Memorial Day is just a week away.
A memorial is an object which serves as a focus for memory of something, usually a person (who has died) or an event. The most common type of memorial is the gravestone or the memorial plaque. Also common are war memorials commemorating those who have died in wars.
God has given us many memorials. This week we will look at five of them.
The Lord’s Supper, the Rainbow, the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Purim.
1. The Lord’s Supper
The first memorial we are considering in this list is found in Luke 22:19-20.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20)
Of course the greatest memorial of them all is the Lord’s Supper which is a reminder of the broken body and shed blood of Christ.
The Communion service is a service of remembrance. It is the equivalent of the Passover feast under the Law of Moses. The Communion 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.
2. The Rainbow
The second memorial can be found in Genesis chapter 9:12-17.
“And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon 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. 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.
3. The Passover
The third memorial is found in Exodus 12:11-14. 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.
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite 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.13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”
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.
4. Feast of the Tabernacles
The fourth memorial is found in found in Leviticus 23:39-43.
“Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 23:39-43)
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 This is talking about the Feast of the Tabernacles.
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. The feast of Purim
The fifth memorial can be found in Esther 9:28.
“And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.” (Esther 9:28)
In the book of Esther you may remember that Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, who was the king’s favorite. 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.
Memorials are for:
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain, 907 715-4001