by Rev Joel Yong
And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel.
This is not the first time, God has said this.
He said it earlier when He wrestled Jacob.
Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[a] for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
And it’s not the first time God repeats phrases and instructions either.
Look at what He said to Joshua –
Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a]wherever you go.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
In a teenager’s terms, they would call this “nagging”.
To a Singaporean Chinese, he may say its “loh soh”.
But John Wesley knew better.
Here is what he believed about teaching-
“And finally, if teaching is to bear any fruit, teach patiently. You must tell them the same thing ten times over or you do nothing.” – John Wesley
(from ‘The Works of the Reverend John Wesley, Vol. II, cited by Elmer L. Towns in his work ‘John Wesley and Religious Education’)
After all, he remembered his own father saying to his mother about raising him-
Why do you tell that blockhead the same thing twenty times over?” asked John Wesley’s father. “Because,” replied his mother, “if I had told him but nineteen times, all my labor would have been lost, …”
We are all prone to forgetfulness- kids and adults alike.
God our Father knows this.
That is why much of Scripture contains instructions from Him to institute reminders for ourselves, about what God has done:
For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
1 Corinthians 11:24-25
and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
What deliberate reminders do you follow on a daily, weekly and even monthly basis to remind yourself of who you are, whom you serve and what you exist to do?