Memory and the Sacraments 

According to Aristotle, man thinks in terms of visual images, and his memory is prompted or "cued," by signs and symbols. If this is true, visible images, such as the rainbow, would trigger man's memory of God’s covenant and mercy. Luther also comments regarding the value of the physical sign of the Sacrament of Baptism, “Certainly, it should and must be external so that the senses can perceive and grasp it and it thus can be brought into the heart.” As created beings, God has chosen to work through physical means, namely the Sacraments.

While the Sacraments are most certainly not only symbols but efficacious means of grace, God in His loving condescension to man’s physicality has given the gift of a physical, visible sacrament that can be grasped by man’s senses. For example, in witnessing another’s baptism, we recall (our memories are "cued" by this outward sign) our own baptism and its meaning. We are told explicitly by Jesus Christ that the Sacrament of His body and blood is to bring us into remembrance of Himself: “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25).

Circumcision Brings to Remembrance 

In the Old Testament, the Sacrament of circumcision was a sign cut into the flesh that would certainly bring the covenant Hebrew into remembrance. Circumcision was a sign that could not be overlooked and was seen daily – it was a sign that became part of the man receiving it. Through this mark of circumcision, the Hebrew was daily brought to remembrance by a permanent outward symbol that cued his memory of God’s covenant with him.

Ceremonial Laws Bring God into Memory 

The Hebrews used other God-appointed means to prompt their memory of God's word. One such method was for the Hebrew to weave tassels into their clothes. “And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined” (Num.15:39).

Ritual Sacrifice Reminds of God's Covenant Of course the ritual actions of sacrifice and the Hebrew religious festivals, especially the Passover, would prompt their memory of God’s "hesed" to His covenant people. Morris notes, “Throughout his life, from birth to death, the Jew was surrounded by an endless succession of sign and symbol ceaselessly exhorting him ‘to remember.' ”

Memory Looks Forward to the Messiah 

The last mention of remembrance is given in Malachi 4:4-6. In this text, memory both looks back and forward to the coming of the Messiah. “Remember the law of Moses. … Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children …”

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