One of the marvels of the human brain is its memory system. Somehow as events happen to us through life, they are stored in the human brain. As we age and events continue to take place, more memories are stored away. I read recently that while we sleep, the brain is like a computer and though we are unconscious, the brain remains active as it stores the events of the day in its file system. Some of those memories are refreshing but others can haunt us for the rest of our lives. We would like to hit the “delete” button and erase them forever, but that is impossible.

Out of this I ask the question, does God have a memory? If God is Omniscient [that is all knowing] does he remember all the deeds of my life? Does God look at me and remember all the sinful things I have done in my life?

To answer this, I turn to a Scripture out of the book of Leviticus 16. Moses is getting instruction for the day of Atonement for the forgiveness of sins for the nation of Israel. In verses 1-6 instructions are given for the sins of the Priests. Beginning in verse 7, Moses is given instruction for the sins of the nation of Israel. Listen as God instructs Moses. “And he shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the Tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell and make it for a sin offering. But the goat on which the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness for a scapegoat.” He continues in verse 20: “When He finishes atoning for the Holy Place and the Tent of Meeting and the altar he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities of the Sons of Israel all their transgressions in regards to their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hands of a man who stands in readiness.”

There are three events that are taking place here on the day of Atonement. First, the Priest offers two bulls for their own sins. They do this before they can deal with the nation’s sins. Then the High priest takes two goats for the people. One of the goats is slain and offered on the altar for the sins of the people. The second goat is kept alive and brought to the Priest. He lays his hands on the head of the goat and confesses all the sins of the Sons of Israel. Then the goat is handed over to a prepared man and led into the wilderness and abandoned there. The man returns to the camp of the Sons of Israel, while the goat is abandoned in the wilderness. This Old Testament teaching shows how our sins are dealt with. They are forgiven [the first goat] and they are abandoned [the second goat].

This brings me back to my original question; does God have a memory? Does God look at us in His Omniscience and remember all the sinful things I have done? If the second goat that is led into the wilderness, upon whose head the priest has confessed all my sins and that goat, carrying my sins is abandoned there, is that not telling me that God has not only forgiven my sins, but He has abandoned them.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” [Psalms 103:12] “For I will forgive their iniquities and their sins I will remember no more.” [Jeremiah 31:34]  “He will again have compassion on us. He will tread down our inequities under foot, yes you will cast their sins in the depths of the sea.” [Micah 7:19] “You have cast all my sins behind your back.” [Isaiah 38:17]

It is an amazing thought that yes, God is Omniscient, but at the same time forgetful. When He forgave my sins, He also remembers them no more and has cast them as far as the east is from the west.

The human memory can torment us. If you are the victim of abuse, rape violence, or you have been addicted to a former lifestyle that Christ has delivered you from, your memory will bring those things back and torment you.

My memory can rob me of peace and can torment me day and night. I ask myself, “how can God love someone like me, how can God forgive me?”

You can ask God for healing of those memories. You can also thank Him for his mercy and His grace for accepting you for who you are. Your sins have been carried by that goat into the wilderness and have been abandoned there.

Carl was a quiet man. He was faithfully in church every Sunday morning. Carl was always in the background and if you wanted to know him you had to seek him out. He was a master mechanic and a master carpenter. He was one of those men who could do anything with his hands.

Carl asked to talk to me. We sat in my office, and I learned that he was a veteran of World War II. He was an infantry man for General McArthur in recapturing the South Pacific. This quiet humble man began to sob uncontrollably as he told of the violence he had been through and of the many who lost their lives because of his machine gun. Like so many veterans, he had buried these experiences deep inside  and he had never talked about them, not even to his wife. This man, so peaceful and quiet on the outside was like a volcano on the inside. He felt that he had committed the unpardonable sin. His memory would not give him any peace.

How do you tell Carl that God has carried his past into the desert and abandoned all of his past there? The Apostle Paul had those same memories. If you know his past you know it was violent, including killing. How did he reconcile it? He tells Timothy that he was the chief of all sinners, but he found grace and mercy from God. That is the only answer to my past. My sins have been carried away by God Himself, but I am left with memories of who and what I was.

Allow His Grace to sustain you.

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