Ordinance of Memory


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Ordinance of Memory

Psalm 81

God’s Appeal to Stubborn Israel

To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of Asaph.

Sing aloud to God our strength;

shout for joy to the God of Jacob.

Raise a song, sound the tambourine,

the sweet lyre with the harp.

Blow the trumpet at the new moon,

at the full moon, on our festal day.

For it is a statute for Israel,

an ordinance of the God of Jacob.

He made it a decree in Joseph,

when he went out over the land of Egypt.

I hear a voice I had not known:

“I relieved your shoulder of the burden;

your hands were freed from the basket.

In distress you called, and I rescued you;

I answered you in the secret place of thunder;

I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah

Hear, O my people, while I admonish you;

O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

There shall be no strange god among you;

you shall not bow down to a foreign god.

I am the Lord your God,

who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

But my people did not listen to my voice;

Israel would not submit to me.

So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,

to follow their own counsels.

O that my people would listen to me,

that Israel would walk in my ways!

Then I would quickly subdue their enemies,

and turn my hand against their foes.

Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,

and their doom would last forever.

I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,

and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

An ordinance is a command given by an authority – whether political, spiritual, or both. It tends to be actions that are repeated on a regular basis. For Israel, the majority of these ordinances were feasts the communities celebrated together.

I’ve always find it kind of awesome that God actually commanded His people to throw parties. I think He did it because God is not just the Good Physician, He is also the Good Psychologist. God not only wants us to be happy, as the beer slogan misquotes and exploits, God also wants us to be holy. Holiness might be a loaded term for you, so perhaps it would be simpler to think good, grateful, truthful, and of a quality that leaves our world better than we found it. That is a bit more than just happy or high. It shows greater value and expectation on our lives.

God accomplishes this by centering those celebrations around the gratitude to God for His past favor and to remind us of the consequences for turning away and disobeying God. While enjoying the fruit of their partnership with God, the people were invited to think about whether it was worth giving up for the sake of going their own way instead if following God. It concludes with a reminder that God would much rather bless us if it were left entirely up to Him… and a reminder that the choice is not just up to God. It is left up to us.

What kind of ordinances do you have in your life?

What kind of traditions remind you of God’s favor and our need to be led by Him?


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