Revisiting Zakar (Remember)

Today is D-day. My Dad taught me to have the greatest respect for this day. It was the largest sea-born invasion in all of history. Seventy-seven years ago today (6 June 1944) the Canadian troops landed on Juno Beach and successfully secured the Normandy coast for the Allies… but not without heavy and devastating casualties. 961 Canadian soldiers were either wounded, captured, or killed (see Juno Beach Centre). Today we remember the oppression which was overcome, and Canada’s part in the liberation from Nazi domination. We should remember the great sacrifices of men and women in war, for undoubtedly they made substantial personal sacrifices that are worthy of remembering. 

In the Bible, people were to remember times of great oppression and their liberation from it… in particular, God freeing them from enslavement to the Egyptians.

Over and over the Hebrew people were told to remember that they were slaves in Egypt (Exodus 13:3, Deuteronomy 5:15, Deuteronomy 15:15, Deuteronomy 16:12, Deuteronomy 24:18 and Deuteronomy 24:22),  and foreigners in a foreign land (Exodus 22:21, Leviticus 19:34, Deuteronomy 10:19), but rescued by God.

The royal courts even had official rememberers, to recall and record memories.

In David’s court  Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder [rememberer: ma-z’kir] (1 Chronicles 18:15. See also 2 Samuel 8:16 and 2 Samuel 20:24 and 1 Kings 4:3).

In Hezekiah’s court it was Joah son of Asaph the recorder [the rememberer: ha-ma-z’kir] (Isaiah 36:3. See also Isaiah 36:22).

In Josiah’s court it was Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder [the rememberer: ha-ma-z’kir] (2 Chronicles 34:8).

But sadly, regardless of the effort taken to remember, the people still chose to forget. It wasn’t forgetting, per se, it was just choosing not to remember:

Psalm 78:35-53

And they remembered [wai-yi-z’k’ru] that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer. But they flattered Him with their mouth and lied to Him with their tongue. For their heart was not steadfast toward Him, nor were they faithful with His covenant.

But He, being compassionate, forgave their wrongdoing and did not destroy them; and often He restrained His anger and did not stir up all His wrath.

So He remembered [wai-yi-z’kor] that they were only flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.

How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel.

They did not remember [lo-zak’ru] His power, the day when He redeemed them from the enemy, when He performed His signs in Egypt and His marvels in the field of Zoan, and turned their rivers to blood, and their streams, so that they could not drink.

He sent swarms of flies among them that devoured them, and frogs that destroyed them. He also gave their crops to the grasshopper nd the product of their labour to the locust.

He destroyed their vines with hailstones and their sycamore trees with frost. He also turned their cattle over to the hailstones, and their herds to bolts of lightning.

He sent His burning anger upon them, fury and indignation and trouble, a band of destroying angels.

He leveled a path for His anger; He did not spare their souls from death, but turned their lives over to the plague, and struck all the firstborn in Egypt, the first and best of their vigour in the tents of Ham.

But He led His own people out like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock; He led them safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea engulfed their enemies.

They remembered YHWH, but forgot His power. Regardless, He remembered them and saved them.

They forgot the wonderfulness of being freed from slavery; instead, in their desert wandering, they only remembered what they no longer had:

Numbers 11:5-6

We remember [zakar’nu] the fish which we used to eat for free in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna!”

In the desert the Hebrew people turned the memories they had into complaints. Although they had been enslaved, they remembered what they ate but they forgot what it was like to be devoured by dominating foreign powers. How quickly we forget anything good in our lives when we are faced with adversity.

David was faced with overwhelming adversity throughout his life, but he remembered YHWH and he knew he could count on YHWH to remember him:

Psalm 25:4-7

[Psalm of David:] Make me know Yohur ways, YHWH; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.

Remember [Z’kor], YHWH, Your compassion and Your faithfulness, for they have been from of old. Do not remember [al ti-z’kor] the sins of my youth or my wrongdoings; remember me [z’kar li attah] according to Your faithfulness, for Your goodness’ sake, YHWH.

Centuries after David, Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the people were exiled out of Israel and dragged away as captives. But YHWH promised He would bring them back:

Jeremiah 29:10-13

“For this is what YHWH says: ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares YHWH, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Holding onto God’s promise of a return from exile, the distressed author of Lamentations called to YHWH:

Lamentations 3:19-23

[To YHWH:] Remember [z’kar] my misery and my homelessness, the wormwood and bitterness.

My soul certainly remembers [zakor ti-z’kor], and is bent over within me.

I recall this to my mind, therefore I wait. YHWH’s acts of mercy indeed do not end, for His compassions do not fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

The writer was in the depths of despair, but he recalled to mind God’s promise of redemption and God’s compassionate faithfulness to His people. The Psalmist remembered this, and held onto hope.

Let us remember our Creator, the God who loves us and who laid down His life for us so that we could live life abundantly in His presence. Great is His faithfulness!

Today we remember D-Day when the allies fought against the Nazi’s and their message of oppression, racism, patriarchy and power. There are many in this world still living in oppression and suffering under godless leadership, but whatever the circumstance, remember: YHWH is the Creator King and we are His cherished children.

Isaiah 26:8, 13

Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, YHWH, we have waited for You eagerly; Your name, and remembering You [u-l-zik’r’ka], is the desire of our souls…

…YHWH, our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; but through You alone we confess [remember: na-z’kir] Your name.

Remember the name of YHWH: He Is!… He is your Creator, He is your Saviour, and He is your Redeemer. Blessed be His name! For more on the Hebrew word for Remember, click below:



Next week: WORLD

2 thoughts on “Revisiting Zakar (Remember)”

  1. I really enjoyed being reminded of YHWH’s faithfulness—thank you!

    As you brought up the Nazi regime, I thought of governmental oppression and was reminded of a passage I read recently: 1 Timothy 2:1-6
    (ESV) 1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.


    1. Thanks Ronald. High positioned people are at great risk of believing in their own power. Paul makes a good point… we need to pray for world leadership, that they be peaceful, quiet, Godly and dignified… any other kind of leadership is at danger of going astray.


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