History. I know it can be a boring subject for many, but bear with me for a moment.
I just got done reading through the Bible chronologically. I love reading in that order because I love putting the pieces together, seeing the timeline, understanding how everything fits. One of the things that stood out to me as I finished this time was how often renewal of interest in the things of the Lord in Israel began with the recounting of their history. In fact, the instructions to the Israelites when they entered the Promised Land was to tell the story of all God did for them to their children throughout their generations forever. They failed to do that. And when they failed to do that, it wasn’t long before they strayed into idolatry and sin.
There were several things recently that made me think about how if we look at history as a whole, it makes it very difficult to deny the existence of God, the fact that Israel is a special and chosen nation, and the presence of evil in this world. Knowing history also lets us catch a glimpse of our failures, which is often unpleasant, but reminds us not to repeat those things.
Our personal history helps us to see the direct intervention of God into the details of our lives; it establishes us in the certainty of His sovereignty and love. World history helps us to see that as God works in the nitty gritty details, He also causes great things to happen in our world. Looking back at what He has done allows us to better grasp hold of the future hope we have. We see better not only the bad direction our world is headed but also the fulfillment of promises over time such that we can be completely assured of the fulfillment of any promises which have yet to come to fruition.
We get bogged down in history though. We think of history only as specific dates, places, and names. These are important, yes. But I had a history teacher I very much appreciated because her focus wasn’t on those details so much as understanding how bits and pieces of our history fit into the greater narrative of God’s story. I honestly struggle to remember dates. I’m not good at remembering my own anniversary let alone what year the Great Depression began. But I can tell you how my anniversary fits into the narrative of my own life and how the Great Depression fits into the narrative of US history. I can also tell you ways God has used both.
You don’t have to be good at dates or times or places to be able to recount the history of what God has done and give Him all of the praise, honor, and glory for it. Knowing that the Holocaust happened is not about knowing the exact date Hitler took power or when the Allies defeated the Axis powers. It’s about seeing God’s hand in the protection of Israel and the bringing together of a national people group who were so dispersed they no longer spoke their own language. It’s about knowing that a nation can be defeated by degrees and that we cannot simply sit back and say, “It’s not my problem,” when we see evil happening to those around us. It’s about remembering lives lost that didn’t have to be. It’s about praising God that we can be assured He hasn’t forgotten a single one of His promises.
History is full of amazing examples of God’s promises, His intervention, and His grace. And you don’t have to be a history buff to get on board with eagerly recounting what He has done. You just have to be willing. The examples are endless, so latch onto the ones you know and share them. Don’t let people forget them. When we forget our history, we forget God’s greatness throughout it and we are so prone to neglect worship of Him.