The Failure of Forgetting
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He began with a reminder of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. The Lord’s promise to “deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians” had been fulfilled (Exod. 3:8), and now they found themselves on the other side of a sea that once represented hopelessness and defeat. Pharaoh’s abusive taskmasters and harsh work orders were in the past. Their future, by contrast, held promises of blessing, rest, and provision.
This reminder of deliverance is significant because forgetfulness proved to be one of Israel’s greatest struggles throughout the coming years — just as it is for us. As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 106:21, they soon “forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt.” Even before Moses made it down from Mount Sinai they had created a golden calf to worship!
So why is forgetfulness so dangerous?
God warned against forgetfulness because it’s one of the most common causes of idolatry, which is precisely what the first commandment forbids just two verses later. Tragically, Israel “forgot His works and His wonders that He had shown them” time and time again (Psa. 78:11). This in turn led them to sin “even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness” (Psa. 78:17).
Like the Israelites, we have been delivered by God “from the power of darkness” and brought “into the Kingdom of the son of His love” (Col. 1:13). He has parted the sea of sin and death, leading us safely to the other side. Keeping God first in our hearts and loving Him unreservedly is “the first and great commandment,” and to obey it we must never lose sight of what He has done for us (Matt. 22:37-38).