Verse 32:11 stood out to me in this Torah portion, as a reminder not only of God’s trustworthiness, but also of the fact that we can bring God to task by reminding him of His promises.
Not that God ever forgets promises. He does forget something, though: He forgets the sins He forgives. Much better than humans, who say we forgive, and I think most of the time really want to, but we still relive the hurt. Sometimes we don’t want to forgive.
Silly Rabbit! Hatred is for losers! The only way to make the hurt go away is to forgive, then forget. We tend to think forgive and forget means never let them forget what we forgive.
In any event, this verse is where Jacob, soon to be Israel, prays to God to protect him from Esau, who is coming with 400 men to greet his brother. Jacob reminds God of the covenant God made, in essence, calling God’s hand and saying, “You promised my descendants would be numberless, so if Esau destroys me your promise will be broken.”
Of course, he didn’t say it that way, but that’s what he is saying, isn’t it?
We see this a number of times in the Bible, where God is called upon to remember His promises. Apparently this isn’t a problem for the Almighty. I would suggest a respectful reminder, but still, even though God never forgets we are allowed to remind Him.
How many times did Moses (almost) remand God when He wanted to destroy the rebellious people, telling God it is isn’t a good idea because it would make God look less than all-powerful to the nations? Here is a human telling the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, “Hey, ya’ know…that’s not a good idea. I think we should revisit that plan.”
The fact that we, little more than worms compared to God, are allowed to remind and, to a point, even remand God shows His merciful, compassionate nature.
Maybe he allows this because He is testing us? Maybe He wants to see if we remember what He says. That makes sense to me, since I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning. Pretty soon I won’t even remember if I had breakfast, let alone what it was. So to make sure that we remember His promises is just s step away from making sure we remember His commandments.
The point here is that we need to not just listen to God, but remember what He tells us. When the fecal matter hits the air circulation device we will need to know God’s word, His promises and His commandments. More than that, we will need to know the other parts of the Bible, too: Shaul’s advice, what the Prophets tell us to expect, and what John tells us about the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.) All this needs to be read and remembered.
And when we are in the midst of troubles, there is nothing wrong with kvetching to God. He can handle it, and (I like to think) He actually likes it when we call out to Him, even if it is to remind Him of his promises.
I pray for my wife and children every day, and I remind God that His son said whatever I ask, if I ask it in His name, will be given. Then I remind God that He, Himself, said He doesn’t want anyone to die in their sin, so it certainly is in His will when I ask for the salvation of my loved ones. I remind God of these things every time I pray.
There is the parable of the woman who asks justice from the unjust judge. Eventually he grants her justice, if for no other reason than to get rid of her.
God is a totally righteous judge, so how much more will He do for us when we continually ask, and respectfully remind, Him to do what He has told us He would.