The ten memorials are...
When God designed and created our bodies, he put one of the most important parts of our body in our head. He created a organ that was responsible for coordinating and controlling our bodily activities, and also exercising our emotions and thought.
Soft and wrinkled like your fingertips would be after a long, hot bath, the average human brain contains some 100 billion neurons. These neurons are the nerve cells that conduct the chemical and electrical traffic inside our bodies. At any given moment, like right now, millions of impulses are streaking along the neurons and synapses in our skulls. These streaking impulses cause our nerve cells to fire and this is the basis of all our perceptions, thoughts, emotions and memories.
Until recently, scientists believed that the brain stored memories in just one part of the brain, which acted like a warehouse full of rows and rows of neatly ordered filing cabinets. But they now know that memories are not stored in one part of the brain. Rather the brain stores memories like a maze full of twists and turns. Each time a particular memory is recalled, the twists and turns rearrange themselves to bring that particular memory into focus.
So it is impossible to say which part of the brain stores memories, as the whole brain stores memories. The whole brain rearranges the electrical impulses running through it, into a particular pattern when it recalls a memory. The brain is not a computer, where we just click on the proper icon to call up the desired document from the brain’s hard disk. Rather memory depends on several brain systems working in concert across many levels of neural organisation.
So when God designed the memory function in our brains, he created two complementary processes :
As we all know, memory in our brains is not always impeccable. Memory is in fact very unreliable. We tend to perceive and remember only what we consider as novel or important. The rest is dumped and forgotten.
So why did God design our brains in such a way that memories could be forgotten even when they are forgotten temporarily. Wouldn’t it have been better to have memories that would stay permanently with us.
Well there was a case in Argentina in the late 1800’s where a young man fell off a horse, and was from then on unable to forget any experience. As an example, he knew by heart the forms of the southern clouds at dawn on the 30th of April, 1882, and could compare them in his memory with the mottled streaks, which looked like clouds, on the cover of a book he had only seen once.
For this poor man, he was driven almost to the point of insanity, with his inability to forget everything that he experienced - all these experiences kept on accumulating on top of each other never being forgotten to the point where it became completely intolerable.
That is why God designed us so that we would forget memories and have to be reminded of them to bring them back into sharp focus.
So the Great Creator knowing that his creation was designed with this ability to forget things, set about at various stages in history creating events that were called memorials. Memorials were something that was designed or established to serve as a remembrance of a person or an event.
This commentary reviews ten memorials in the Bible. Ten things that were designed, so that the electrical impulses in our minds would rearrange themselves to bring back into sharp focus a particular person or event.
God saw that these people or events were so important that he felt men and women should be continually reminded about them, and he did this through the memorial.
1. The Lord’s supper
The first memorial we are considering in this list is found in Luke chapter 22 and verse nineteen and twenty.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20)
Ofcourse the greatest memorial of them all is the Lord’s supper which is a reminder of the broken body and shed blood of Christ. Out of all the memorials this is the one you must actively take part in each week if you are a baptised believer.
The breaking of bread service each week is a service of remembrance. It is the equivalent of the Passover feast under the law of Moses. The breaking of bread service takes us back to our salvation from sin through Christ, which was made possible on the cross and to which we became related by baptism. Keeping this commandment is therefore something we naturally want to do.
To take the emblems of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice is therefore, the highest honour which a man or woman could have.
2. 2. The Rainbow
The second memorial can be found in Genesis chapter 9 and verses 12 to 17.
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth." (Genesis 9:12-17)
The memorial is the rainbow, and it is a reminder that God would never again destroy the world by a flood.
In the verses in the above quote, the rainbow is described as a token of the covenant. The word token comes from the Hebrew word “owth” which means a signal or a monument or evidence of the covenant between God and all life on the earth. So God is saying that whenever he sees this sign or monument in the sky, it will remind him of the covenant between him and every living creature on the earth. In other words, it is a memorial not only for God but also for us. Whenever we see the rainbow it is to remind us of the covenant, that never again will there be a flood to destroy all life on the earth.
The book of Revelation takes this idea even further. In Revelation it is used to as a symbol of God’s purpose to establish peace on earth.
It is a symbol of the time when there will be seen glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and goodwill towards men.
So the rainbow is a memorial that states that not only will God guarantee that there would never again be utter destruction, but also that instead of utter destruction there would be a kingdom of God set up under immortal rulers who would reign over the nations. This would be a great kingdom where God’s glory will fill the earth and there will be peace throughout the earth.
3. The Passover
The third memorial is found in Exodus chapter 12 and verses 11 to 14. In the verse leading up to these verse the Israelites are told to take an unblemished lamb and kill it. They shall take the blood from it and place it on the side and tops of the door frames of the houses where they should eat the lamb.
And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.
‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. (Exodus 12:11-14)
So here the members of each family must keep within the doors. They were to be fully dressed, staff in hand, ready to go on the journey when God called them. No bone of the lamb was to be broken. During the night, the lamb, roasted with fire, was to be eaten in haste with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The reason behind this was that God was going to pass through during the evening and kill all the firstborn. This is the first occurrence of the word “Passover” in the scriptures. The word means “to step over” and tells us of God’s merciful provision in the “Passing over” of our sins.
In verse 13 it says that the blood on the door frames was to be a token. So there is that word token again, which we saw being used in the case of the Rainbow. It means a sign or a monument. In this case, the blood is the sign or monument used to remind the people. And what are they being reminded of? They are being reminded that the blood of a lamb saved sinners from judgment. So in these verses the memorial is the Passover and the lamb’s blood which is the central part of it. So that they might never forget its lessons, the Jews were commanded to keep it every year and to teach its significance to their children. The eating of the Passover lamb prepared Israel to go out from Egypt to a new life of freedom and holiness.
So the Passover was important as a memorial to the Israelites as it reminded them :
1. God’s separation of His people from the Gentiles.
2. God’s protection of His people.
3. God’s deliverance of His people.
4. God’s requirements of His people, that is, dedication to Him.
5. God’s commandment to them to keep the feast annually to remind them of all God had done for them.
And as we shall see later on in this commentary, the Passover pointed towards another memorial.
4. Feast of the Tabernacles
The fourth memorial is found in found in Leviticus chapter 23 and verses 39 to 43.
Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
This is talking about the Feast of the Tabernacles. It fell in the Autumn when the full harvest of corn, wine and oil had been gathered in. It was the last great feast of the year. It was a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving when Israel showed their gratitude to God and remembered that He had delivered them from Egyptian bondage and brought them into a land which produced so many good things. It came five days after the Day of Atonement when the sin of the people had been removed.
During the seven days of the feast Israel dwelt in booths or tents made from the boughs of trees. It would remind them of the 40 years in the wilderness when they dwelt in tents, the only practical method of accommodation which started when they left Egypt.
The feast pointed forward to the full harvest and the result of Christ’s work during the Millennium. It will be at this time that the whole earth will rejoice with Israel and keep the feast of Tabernacles.
5. Brass censer beaten into a cover for the altar
The fifth memorial is found in Numbers chapter 16 and verses 36 to 40. Before we look at these verses let’s look briefly at what had happened leading up to these verses.
Israel had been condemned to spend 40 years in the wilderness. During this time the unrest mounted, and the disappointment of the people at not being able to enter the Promised Land, became a ground for rebellion to develop.
The opportunity was seized by Korah, Dathan and Abiram to rebel against the order of priesthood which had been ordained by God at Sinai. Korah was dissatisfied with this high honour and together with Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben and 250 princes rose up in rebellion against Moses and Aaron and accused them of taking too much upon themselves. Korah, with the 250 princes, came as directed to the Tabernacle carrying censers having fire in them. Dathan and Abiram with their families stood at their tents. God sent fire and an earthquake that completely destroyed the arch rebels and their followers.
Let’s now read Numbers chapter 16 and verses 36 to 40 which followed immediately after these events.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, to pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy, and scatter the fire some distance away. The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar. Because they presented them before the LORD, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel.” So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned up had presented, and they were hammered out as a covering on the altar, to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no outsider, who is not a descendant of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the LORD, that he might not become like Korah and his companions, just as the LORD had said to him through Moses.
So in these verses we see the brass censers were beaten into a covering for the altar as a memorial that only Aaron’s seed was appointed to the priesthood and Tabernacle services.
So, firstly, what is a brass censer ? It was a small portable vessel of brass designed to take burning coals from the altar, and on which the incense for burning was sprinkled.
Why was the brass censer beaten into a cover for the altar and then used as a memorial ? Well, the metal brass is used in the scriptures to represent the origin of man’s sin.
And what was the origin of man’s sin ? His flesh. Given that all lust is of the flesh, then brass is used to represent sin in the flesh.
In the verse we just read, God commanded Eleazar, Aaron’s son, to melt these brass censers and roll them into ‘broad plates for a covering of the altar;’ and also for ‘a sign to the children of Israel.’ Now we know that the altar represents the purity of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, with this act of melting the brass in fire and then beating and rolling it into a plate to cover the altar, we are being shown that flesh of sin can only ever become one with the altar by being purified by fiery trial.
Only the gold, the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, everything that can endure fire, you shall put through the fire, and it shall be clean; and it shall be purified with the water of purification (Numbers 31:22-23)
So this is the third memorial we have looked at. These brass censers made into brass plates for a covering of the altar was to be memorial that only those who have taken on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ through baptism and have passed through the fiery trials of life will become one with the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. 12 stones from the Jordan River
The sixth memorial is found in Joshua chapter 4 and verses four to seven.
Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7)
So here we see that Israel had reached the western bank of the Jordan. Joshua had commanded a chosen man from each tribe to take a stone from the bed of the Jordan. These twelve stones were set up at Gilgal as a memorial to future generations to teach them that God had dried up the waters of the Jordan, as He had the Red Sea, for His people. It was to speak of God’s might and power to all nations of the earth.
Later in Joshua chapter four we read of a second memorial of 12 stones being set up in the midst of the river where the priests had stood. These memorials were a witness and a lasting testimony to the fact that they were God’s people who should fear the Lord forever. For he indeed held mighty power. But on a deeper level, that it is only through baptism that we can enter the promised land.
7. The Sabbath day
The seventh memorial is found in Deuteronomy chapter 5 and 15.
And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15)
The memorial in this verse is the Sabbath day, which the children of Israel were being asked to keep. It was designed to remind them that God had in six days created the heaven, earth and the sea and all that was in them. On the seventh day he rested from His labours. In other words, it was reminding them of a complete creation.
Jesus of course came and replaced the law of Moses and made it no longer necessary to observe the Sabbath day in order to be acceptable to God. Salvation is through the keeping the law of Christ rather than that of Moses.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
The Lord Jesus invites those who follow Him to accept the “rest” which He gives. The word “rest” is from the Greek word, “anapausis”. It is this same Greek word that is used in the Septuagint for the Old Testament Sabbath rest. So Jesus is offering a life of Sabbath, of rest from trust in our own works. A person may be carrying a heavy burden from sin, or day to day trials or even persecution. Jesus frees people from all these burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing and peace with God, not the end of all labour. Ultimately we will receive rest from the sin which each one of us is currently afflicted with. We shouldn’t, therefore, keep a Sabbath one day per week, but rather live our whole lives in the spirit of the Sabbath.
8. Manna in the Ark of the Covenant
The eighth memorial is found in Exodus chapter 16 and verse 31 and 33.
And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.” (Exodus 16:31-33)
As the people traveled through the wilderness they found that the food supplies brought from Egypt were exhausted and as a result they started murmuring against their leaders. God promised to rain bread from heaven that the Israelites might gather it at a certain rate every day. Manna was the bread God provided.
Manna was round and white. The people were to gather an omer (nearly one gallon) for each person, which was enough for the day’s needs. If it was kept overnight it bred worms and corrupted. God instructed Aaron to put some in a golden pot to be placed in the Ark of the Covenant. Despite most of the manna decomposing over night, the manna kept in the ark of the covenant stayed miraculously preserved.
So what does this mean to us ?
The two main facts in relation to the manna is that firstly it came from heaven, and secondly that the children of Israel were so situated that if they had not received it, they must have perished. These two facts of course tells us of eternal life through Christ. This meaning becomes absolutely certain when you consider Christ’s promise in Revelation where he says that “to him that overcometh will I give eat of the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:17). And this same point is made when Christ makes the declaration during a conversation on the Mosaic manna that he is the living bread that came down from heaven, whereof if a man eat, he shall not die (John 6:51). This is telling us that man is mortal, and he will die if he is apart from Christ.
So true Israelites eat of this manna when they absorb the Word, for the Lord was the Word made flesh. In the wilderness, the manna could not be stored up, but had to be collected fresh each morning; for that which remained after eating, corrupted and had to be destroyed. True Israelites, likewise, should gather their manna day by day for their eating should be continual and consistent.
What about the manna gathered into the pot which was concealed in the ark of the covenant where it didn’t corrupt? Well this points towards the Lord Jesus Christ, who is represented by the ark. Concealed in the Lord Jesus Christ is the golden pot containing a full measure of manna which doesn’t corrupt. And this manna or life that doesn’t corrupt will be given to those who overcome. The eating of the manna at the Lord’s return will confer immortality on the eater.
So this is why a omer of manna was placed into the pot inside the ark of the covenant as a memorial. It pointed towards the life giving powers of Jesus.
9. The feast of Purim
The ninth memorial can be found in Esther chapter 9 and verse 28.
that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, that these days of Purim should not fail to be observed among the Jews, and that the memory of them should not perish among their descendants. (Esther 9:28)
In the book of Esther you may remember that Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, who was the king’s favourite. As a result, Haman made plans to massacre the Jews on a fixed date. Mordecai went to Esther and persuaded her to intercede with the king. Esther invited the king and Haman to a banquet. At the banquet Esther reveals Haman’s plans to massacre the Jews, and Haman is hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Since the edict for the massacre cannot be revoked, the king sends a edict allowing the Jews to defend themselves. The Jews take advantage of this to kill their enemies. The deliverance is commemorated at the feast of Purim.
The special feast continues to be celebrated by Jews to this day to celebrate their deliverance from Haman’s destruction through queen Esther’s actions. So it is a self-proclaimed memorial to the Jews to this very day. During the Purim, the Esther scroll is read aloud in the synagogues.
Other festivals were ordained by Divine authority this one was initiated by Mordecai and Esther. Yet its commemoration was undoubtedly sanctioned by God whose merciful interposition it records.
So what we can learn from this is not so much the memorial that the Jews proclaimed, but rather the fact that God is a protector and deliverer of those who look to him and trust in him. It is a memorial to illustrate the Graciousness of God.
10. The anointing of Jesus head by Mary
The tenth memorial is found in Matthew chapter 26 and verses 6 to 13.
And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”
But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
So in Bethany, six days before the Passover, Mary anointed Jesus in the house of Simon. The anointing of Jesus with costly ointment, filled the house with the odour. In honour of the tender action Mary had taken, Jesus said that she would be spoken of wherever the Gospel shall be preached. In other words, there would be a memorial of her actions whenever the gospel is preached.
This reminds us of the devotion each one of us must have for the Lord Jesus Christ. But this same love must also be expressed to each one of our fellow believers.
We have looked briefly at ten memorials in the Bible.
As we saw in the introduction to this commentary, our minds were designed so that we would forget things. So these ten memorials were created, so that the electrical impulses in our minds would rearrange themselves to bring back into sharp focus a particular person or event.
God saw that these people or events were so important that he felt men and women should be continually reminded about them, and he did this through the memorial. These memorials were there so that we can be reminded about the great themes running through the Bible.
Some of these memorials are still observed and others aren't. But each memorial still has a important lesson behind it which can help each one of us as we head towards the Kingdom.
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Last Updated: Sunday, 08 March 2015