(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Deuteronomy 24:18 is the fourth of five times in this last book of the Pentateuch where Moses admonishes the Israelites to “…remember that you were a slave in Egypt….” Here is the whole verse: “But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this thing.” What thing was Moses commanding them to do? In the verses preceding our featured Scripture, there are admonitions given of how to interact with fellow Hebrews concerning…
• …divorce and remarriage (verses 1-4).
• …war and a newly married man (verse 5).
• …what cannot be taken as debt collateral, and how it should be done (verses 6, 10-13,17).
• …kidnapping and its penalty (verse 7).
• …what to do in cases of leprosy (verses 8, 9).
• …treatment of a hired servant and his pay (verses 14, 15).
• …capital punishment applied only to the perpetrator, and not to near relatives (verse 16).
• …“You shall not pervert justice due the stranger or the fatherless…” (verse 17).
And the basis of all this godly conduct? Here is verse 18 from the Easy-To-Read Version: “Remember, you were poor slaves in Egypt. And the LORD your God took you from that place and set you free. That is why I tell you to do these things for the poor.” As they had been harshly treated as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were to remember their slavery and never treat others as they had themselves experienced!
How does it relate to us as Christians? As described in Remember To Remember – I and II:
- Egypt represents the world, all the sinful attractions of the world, and our too-often ungodly choices and actions as a result of still being in the world!
- We are then warned never to return to embrace the things of Egypt/the world!
➔ Egypt (see Exodus 13:17; 14:13; Deuteronomy 17:14-16). ➔ the world (see Colossians 2:20-23; Hebrews 6:4-6; I John 2:15-17).
- …we are told never to forget from where we were redeemed! For we also were in slavery…to sin and Satan! (See John 8:34-36; Romans 6:16-23).
There is a balance we must maintain in this remembering! You see, according to Jeremiah 31:31 through 34, God promised a new covenant He will make with His people:
I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.
So important is this new covenant, which was made available in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, that it is quoted twice in Hebrews, 8:8 through 12, and 10:16 and 17. Because God does not waste space in His Word, to repeat something three times must mean it is vitally important! I wrote about this early on in Gems For Living (see Forgiven And Free – V, April 12, 2013; and The Great Exchange, March 27, 2013). Briefly…
- Jesus so totally paid for our sins that when we accept Him as our Savior, we are declared clean! Our sins are gone, never to be brought up before us by God again!
- Instead of being clothed with the filthy rags of our sins (see Isaiah 64:6; Zechariah 3:3), we as Christians now wear the robe of the very righteousness of Christ Himself! (See Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:4, 5; II Corinthians 5:21).
The balance we must maintain, mentioned above, is that while we are told to remember our ‘Egypt ’ from which we were redeemed, we are not to dwell on our past sinfulness! For God has forever forgotten our past sins and will never again bring them up to accuse us!
Why are we called to remember our past of sinful slavery when God chooses to forget? We, as Christians, still have that sinful nature as well as our new Christ-like nature (see Romans 8:5-11; II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:16, 17). If we do not put down the old nature and live in the new, we will enslave ourselves again to sin, and treat our fellow human beings in that same shameful way!
This is what Moses is emphasizing in the verses preceding our featured Scripture. Remember to Remember your past – not so you will continually beat yourself up with your past sinful failings, but to recall from where you have come, realizing that others need your testimony and example also…
- …to help them escape enslavement to the world, sin, and the devil!
- …to encourage them in living out their Christian lives, treating others as they would want to be treated! It is called ‘The Golden Rule’ (see Matthew 7:12).