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Just dropping by ... Lest we forget

Yevet Tenney Published on 09 October 2012

The Lord commanded the children of Israel to remember that they were bondmen in the land of Egypt.

But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.



—Deuteronomy 24:18

He commanded them to remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. His people built altars to worship Him but also to help them remember the great event that had occurred in that place (Genesis 35:7). Why would the Lord want this generation of people to remember that they had been in bondage?

The people who had really been in bondage had died in the wilderness. This was the generation who had grown up in the wilderness listening to the stories of Egypt. Some of the older generation had forgotten how hard it was in Egypt.

They didn’t remember making bricks without straw.They didn’t remember the aching backs, the chains and the whips. They only remembered the food being brought to them and having a place to sleep at night. Often they complained and wanted to return to the “fleshpots of Egypt.”

Of course there were some who remembered the lack of freedom they had endured and taught their children to value it. These children were taught to look forward to the promised land and followed the prophet who was leading them.


After Moses, Joshua, the prophet, was able to lead them in a march around the walls of Jericho. They were the ones who witnessed miracles of the walls tumbling down. They had walked across the River Jordan on dry ground and built a monument so they could remember (Joshua 4:7).

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

Why would the Lord want them to remember the bondage of Egypt and the miracles? People have short memories. In times of plenty, it is hard to remember what it was like in times of scarcity. After a mother gives birth, she forgets the pain of labor in the joy of her new baby.

After an accident, the teenager forgets that speeding was the cause of his problems and he or she goes back to speeding. The alcoholic forgets the hangover, and the released prisoner forgets what it was like behind bars and goes back to a life of crime.

The philosopher, George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The answer to our question is simple: The Lord wanted His people to remember so they would not repeat the mistakes of their ancestors.

The Bible was written for this purpose. Moses and others painstakingly wrote the words and experiences of the people. It could not have been an easy task tanning hides and writing on the scrolls in the wilderness, but he did it because he knew it was important. How else would we remember the kindnesses and laws of God?


Today, America is teetering on the brink of allowing the Constitution the founders fought and died for, to be rewritten in the form of government that would appall even King George. King George, at least, had a parliament where some decisions were made by the people.

As our history unfolds and I listen to those who think more government is the answer, I can’t help but wonder if we are longing for the “fleshpots of Egypt” when we expect the government to solve our problems.

Have we forgotten the government of Babel whose tower was to reach heaven, and was brought down by God’s decree? Have we forgotten the Egypt who beat and tortured the slaves so they could have the pyramids and the cities of Egypt?

Have we forgotten the glory of the Greeks, who for a brief moment in time knew freedom but lost it to Rome because their morality fell into decay? Do we remember a Rome where people were crucified for their beliefs? Do we remember the hopeful civilization of the Dark Ages, where a king’s tyranny beheaded his wives because they could not bear him sons? Do we remember the power of kings burning people at the stake for disagreeing with them?

Is the plight of the pilgrims fresh in our minds? They fled a brutal society of a tyrannical government to face the harsh physical conditions of a new land because they wanted the rights and privileges we take for granted. The journey was arduous and long.

They left their loved ones lying in water along the way or buried them in icy graves on the shores of the new world. The price they paid was unimaginable to us in our temperature-conditioned rooms with carpeted floors. After a winter of terrible hardship, the captain of the Mayflower asked who of the few survivors wanted to return with him to England.

It is interesting to note that nobody wanted to return. They would rather freeze and suffer starvation in a land where freedom was a possibility than in a land where freedom was only a dream. Have we forgotten?

Do we remember the desolation of Valley Forge and the price the young men paid lying in the snow shivering with only the fire of freedom burning in their hearts? Do we remember Lexington and Concord? Do we remember why the battles were fought?

Freedom from a government that held them hostage. Do we ever think of the red blood of American soldiers and patriots that is mixed with the ink that penned the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Have we forgotten?

Are the words of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ringing in our ears? Does the Star-Spangled Banner yet wave over a land that is free and the home where brave men still live? Do we “still stand between love’s favored land and war’s desolation?”

Do the fireworks on the Fourth of July still remind us of the bombs that burst in the air around a tattered and charred flag held up by those who were wounded atop of those who were already dead, who had fallen bracing the flag? Do we remember?

Do we remember Lincoln standing like a colossus holding the North and the South together amidst the cries of wounded and the mourning widows and fatherless adrift in a torn nation?

Do we remember his words? ... “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” He didn’t speak of a government of kings or dictators. He spoke of a free people who would change the world with the freedom they possessed.

What about World War I and World War II? Don’t we remember American soldiers who stood between the philosophy of tyranny and slaughter and the dignity of a free people? Have we forgotten the gas chambers and the prisons filled with innocent people?

Have we not read the Diary of Anne Frank? Have we forgotten the death marches and the shattered lives and beautiful cities that were turned to rubble? For what? The whim of a would-be dictator!

Don’t we remember the twin towers and a plane of patriots who gave their lives so that freedom might continue to exist? Have we forgotten? Are we so sleepy and content with our daily rituals of cell phone, Internet and television that we have forgotten that freedom is not free?

Do we remember a cross on Calvary’s hill where a man gave his life for the freedom and dignity of all mankind? He was the greatest advocate for freedom of all time. He died so that men and women might walk in newness of life. He taught a new philosophy of freedom that would change the human heart.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself. Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you. If a man takes your coat, give him your cloak also. Love your enemies. Do good to those who despitefully use you and persecute you. Love one another as I have loved you. The truth shall make you free.” Have we forgotten?

It is time to remember! It is time to return to our founding principles. It is time to study the history of the past and not the history that some have carefully altered to change the mindset of America. It is time to live the principles left to us by our prophets and patriots of the past so our children and children’s children may enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

It is time to write a history of honor for ourselves. It is time to be the men and women of God that we were born to be. The government is our protector, not our provider. When the role is switched, it is time to stand with the great Americans of the past against tyranny and suppression. Freedom is a choice, not a gift from the government. PD