I believe God is forgetful. In fact, I’m extremely thankful God is forgetful.
It is true that the phrase “And God remembered” (or something similar) is common throughout the Scriptures. When theologians speak of God’s “omnipresence,” they don’t mean God is everywhere; they mean all things are in the presence of God. Of course, God observes, knows, remembers. His “remembering” is especially important when people are in distress.
There are two “remembering” texts that I love - Psalm 103:14 says God remembers we are created from dust, and Isaiah 49:15 says that even if a nursing mom were to forget her child - impossible - He will never forget us.
Yet God is forgetful.
For those who worship Him and are reconciled to Him, God forgets their sins, He forgets our failures. Once God forgives, He truly does forget. He is the only one who does. God is not forgetful because He is loving. God is not forgetful because He is gracious. God is not forgetful because He is merciful. God is forgetful because He is forgiving - of those who ask.
The author of Hebrews put it this way:
"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more." (Heb. 10:16-17 ESV)
The covenant to which Hebrews refers is the New Covenant, initiated with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. It is comforting to know that God forgives and forgets - those who ask.
That is the caveat. Divine forgiveness isn’t meted out like so many blank cheques. No, forgiveness is extended only to those who ask for it (obviously with sincerity). Those who ask are also those who worship. Those who worship are those who have repented (GASP - such an old fashioned concept). And those who embrace this free gift of forgiveness through Christ are those who are reconciled to God.
The author of Hebrews goes on to explain there are other “benefits” to this new covenant/forgiveness relationship with God:
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:18-22 ESV)
That’s a lot of Old Testament language for a simple idea: those who are forgiven have their sins forgotten by God. Because sin has been forgotten, the forgiven can boldly approach God in prayer with everything and anything. Literally, everything and anything.
But it doesn’t end there. Because God forgives and forgets, because we can participate in this new covenant initiated by Jesus Christ, because we are reconciled to God through Christ, we can also enjoy new relationship with other worshippers of God:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (Heb. 10:24 ESV)
God’s work of grace - of forgetting - is so amazing it not only initiates a new relationship with Him, it initiates new relationship with one another!
God’s forgetting is not like forgetting where you left your glasses, or your watch, or your car keys. It is the beginning of something new. We are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) with a new hope (1 Pet. 1:13), and a new unity with others (Eph. 4:1-6), a new understanding of our purpose and function in God’s created order (Col. 3:9-10), a new heart (Eze. 11:19), and a new set of priorities and passions (Col. 3:1-4). All things have become new.
All because God is forgetful.