The Truth about Guilt Meditations: 29. Guilt of Blindness – to the wonder of History
Deut 1:5,6 Moses began to expound this law, saying: The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain.
Acts 7:2 he replied: ‘Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran.
Continuing: Other ways in which we get it wrong, let ourselves down, fail to hold to the truth and be strong in Christ, fail to ‘see’ correctly and thus think incorrectly. That’s where we are now, and I suspect you may find this one surprising. I never enjoyed history when I was as school, learning lots of dates, about kings and queens of the past. That sort of history did little for me and I think it has changed in the way it is now taught. But then I became a Christian and started reading my Bible and it was quite a few years before I realized that I was reading history and it was absolutely essential that I not only read it but believed it. I want us in this study to consider what we think about history.
The Essential Nature of History: The whole of our salvation is based upon historical facts, the Bible is full of it. All we know of God in the Bible comes through historical events, things that happened long ago. For some, the fact that the last things recorded in the Bible happened nearly two thousand years ago comes as a problem to them, but the truth is that these things that happened changed history, changed how we view ourselves, changed our futures and the fact of it having been a long time back is irrelevant.
History Declared: The book of Deuteronomy is a record of Moses reminding Israel of their history while they camped on the Plains of Moab just before entering the Promised Land. That history was vital for them to remember because it came, not only as reminders of events that took place but, and just as importantly, what God had said to them about how they were to take the Land and then live in it. In Acts, in chapter 7, we find Stephen making a defense and it is entirely based on the history of Israel. He not only reminds them of the facts of their journey as a people, but also their failures as a people. It is history, maybe uncomfortable, but history.
Faith, Failure & Hope in History: The whole Bible is full of these three things and they are there to teach us, rebuke us, correct us and train us in righteousness, so that as servants of God we may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16,17). But we need to read and study more than individual verses, we need to catch the big picture (and I’ve done that previously in a series called ‘Big Picture meditations’) so we see the Big Plan of God and recognize that we are part of that.
Reaching Further Afield: Now I am going to do something unusual. Usually I write for the whole congregation but now I want to suggest some things that will not be for everyone. I hope it will be for many, but it will not be for all. I am thinking about those of us who want to be equipped to be as fully prepared as possible to be able to answer the questions of their contemporaries. I am going to say something I never thought I would say: knowing your Bible is not enough.
Learning to see the reality of life: Over the years I have come to see something that may be put very simply: God’s design works, ‘the world’s’ doesn’t. All around us we see the unbelieving godless world pushing its ungodly, unrighteous agenda, and most of us aren’t even aware of that. But here’s the thing, when we look at how life in the West is being lived, we see it isn’t working. Someone has written, “‘It is a remarkable paradox that, at the pinnacle of human material and technical achievement, we find ourselves anxiety-ridden, prone to depression, worried about how others see us, unsure of our friendships, driven to consume and with little or no community life.” That is just one aspect of it. Family life for so many is in tatters. The younger generations are suffering from loneliness, depression and so on. The evidence is there; this is not just negative Christian thinking, this is how the world is not working and there are surveys, reports galore, to prove it. Some of us, at least, need to understand this, see how history has changed in the last hundred years. Yes, we can summarize it as a move away from God but if we are to talk knowledgeably to our non-Christians friends, we need to investigate this history and see its failure.
I read biographies and autobiographies as well as history today. What have they taught me? As human beings we have potential for greatness but every single one of us has what I call ‘feet of clay’ something about us where we fall short. The doctrine of sin that the Bible speaks so much about is out there, visible and able to be seen so clearly. Don’t let your friends mock you that it is an outdated idea. It is real and obvious and the reason we share with them.
And So? In so many ways history reveals the truth. First there is the history of the Bible that reveals the wonder of God and the failures of mankind and thus our need for salvation, and then how that salvation has come and the potential it has for transforming our lives. That is the Bible. But then there is the history of the world that confirms everything the Bible teaches – that mankind is blighted with Sin and needs a Savior. The Bible in one hand and history in the other: we are unassailable!
But now we come to the heart of the matter, the ways we get life wrong. In this context we fail to appreciate the wonder of God’s word and what it reveals through the history it recounts. We fail to appreciate the world in which we live, and by this we mean mankind. It’s amazing potential for good and yet its terrible potential for evil. These things need to be put out there and displayed for they reinforce the truths of the Bible. And yet, as I have listened to sermons over the years, I am not sure that I have ever heard these truths of this study displayed.
We need spiritual and intellectual warriors who hold firmly to the truth so that they can display it to the world which desperately needs it at this time. Whether that is just the ordinary, simple Christian who says to his friend to neighbour as they are talking, “You know I have come to appreciate how the Bible sheds light on history to help us see our needs and what God has done for us,” or whether it be the preacher / teacher who equips his people to understand the days, like those men “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (1 Chron 12:32) We ‘understand the times’ when we take note of and understand history. How many just don’t care. God is looking for those who will care and will equip themselves and others. The more we ‘understand the times’ the more we will pray. May it be so.