Remembrance and its opposite - Fifth in a series
There are three persons in the Bible who are called out as remembered by God. The first is Noah: But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided. (Gen 8:1)
The second is Abraham: So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. (Gen 19:29)
The third is Rachel: Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. (Gen 30:22)
We established in the previous posts of this series that God is not in any way forgetful, so is there something to learn from these special passages?
God remembered Noah… (Gen 8:1)
In the first instance we have a man who is preserved from severe judgment but is nevertheless in need of deliverance. Man was not made to live in a ship indefinitely, nor were animals. Thus, after the deluge that poured from above and surged from beneath, the waters slowly decreased, and in the seventh month on the seventeenth day, the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. (Gen 8:4) Nisan* 17 was also the day that Christ was raised from the dead, so as we remember God’s faithfulness to Noah we likewise rejoice in God’s work of salvation for all mankind. That special connection, however, is not the takeaway for this post.
Noah was remembered because he was upright; he walked with God. (Gen 6:8-9). Somehow, amidst the evil that had overtaken the earth so that EVERY imagination of men's hearts was ONLY EVIL CONTINUALLY (Gen 6:5), Noah was above the fray. He was in the line of righteous men; his great-grandfather was Enoch who “walked with” God. (Gen 5:22, 24)
God remembered Abraham … (Gen 19:29)
Abraham, too, walked with the Lord. He was God’s friend. (Isa 41:8) Thus in response to his intercession for his nephew Lot, God remembered Abraham and sent angels to pull and to lead Lot to safety before fire and brimstone were poured from heaven on the totally corrupt cities of the plain.
This is the Bible's first instance of intercession. Lot's deliverance from Sodom depended upon Abraham's faithfulness and prayer. If you would like to read more on this, see God Remembered Abraham, a Bible study on this website, which includes a contemporary application of this truth, about a wife's intercession for her husband.
God remembered Rachel … (Gen 30:22)
Finally, God remembered Rachel. This was a more complex remembrance. We may wonder: Did Rachel walk with God?
At the beginning of Genesis 30 we find that Rachel could not have children so she envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. (Gen 30:1) This made Jacob angry at her, and Rachel's solution was to give Jacob her maid, whose child would be in place of the one Rachel could not bear. Jacob accepted her notion and two sons were born, Dan and Naphtali.
She did not prevail for long. Not to be outdone, Leah then gave her maid to Jacob and Gad and Asher were born. Then Leah had two more sons, Issachar and Zebulun, crediting her good fortune to having been so generous as to give her maid to Jacob! (Gen 30:18)
By now Rachel had had time to consider that her rash suggestion was unwise. Rather than endearing her husband to her, it had served to divide him even further to two other women. It did not increase her stature but rather provoked a new level of competition as Leah turned the tables on her.
Comparing ourselves with others nearly always leads to disaster. Whatever the paths or good fortune of our sisters and brothers, our only directive is to follow Jesus, and to be content. (Heb 13:5)
Then came the time when God remembered Rachel. Jacob felt a new lease on life: it was time to return to his home with his large and extended family. Surely if his first love had born him a son, God was no longer angry and would bless him on his way. (Gen 30:25)
The answer to Rachel's prayer for a child was a sign of God's grace and love. We can safely assume that Rachel had overcome the adversary and had begun to walk with the Lord.
We know from Scripture that the Lord sends both rain and sun on the just and unjust, but for these three special mentions of remembrance, we see a pattern of God's favor to those who are his, who walk with him. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Ch 16:9a)
* Nisan is the first month of the Hebrew year. corresponds to March or April on the Gregorian calendar.