Listen To Article
This coming Sunday, I will be preaching the final sermon in a series on the book of Nehemiah. Chapter thirteen is a bit of a downer. After the triumphant dedication of the completed wall in chapter twelve, we get a series of epic fails. The residents of Jerusalem show themselves to be zero-for-three when it comes to fulfilling the commitments they had made to follow the Torah. And Governor Nehemiah seems to have lost the cool and calm disposition so characteristic of his earlier interactions. In this final chapter, he’s throwing people out and beating people up and pulling out hair by the fistful.
Whereas I might call his reactions ‘temper tantrums,’ Nehemiah would probably have called them evidence of his zeal for the Lord. Nehemiah took that zeal and turned it into prayer. Four times in chapter thirteen, Nehemiah prays that God would ‘remember.’
- “Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services” (v. 14).
- “Remember me for this also, my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love” (v. 22).
- “Remember them, my God, because they defiled the priestly office and the covenant of the priesthood and of the Levites” (v. 29).
- “Remember me with favour, my God” (v. 31).
Three calls for God to remember him with favour for his zealous faithfulness. And one call for God to remember others with, presumably, less favour because of their unfaithfulness.
Others in Scripture also prayed the ‘Remember Me’ prayer.
Samson prays that God would remember him by strengthening him one last time, in order that he might exact revenge on the Philistines. (Judges 16:28)
Hannah prays that God would remember her by giving her a son. (1 Samuel 1:11)
Job prays that God would remember him, but only after some time in the grave, away from God’s attention. (Job 14:13)
Jeremiah prays that God would remember him with care. (Jeremiah 15:15)
The psalmists pray that God would remember how they have been mocked (89:50), how they have made sacrifices (20:3) and denied themselves (132:1), how they have been righteous (112:6). And with a refreshing acknowledgement that any single person could be remembered in multiple ways, the author of Psalm 25 prays, “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love, remember me, for you, Lord, are good” (v. 7).
And that’s just it, isn’t it? The deepest prayer is that God would remember according to God’s love. Our faithfulness or unfaithfulness aside, would that we be remembered according to God’s love.
In his best moments, this is what Nehemiah prayed. And this, too, of course, was the request of the man who died next to Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).
Jesus, remember not my worst sins. They do not define me.
Jesus, remember not my best deeds, for they do not define me, either.
Remember me and remember the whole world according to your love. For it is your love that defines us.
When we are remembered according to God’s love, truly, we are with God in paradise.