Whether we are in high school or college, one subject we study is history. Some of this concerns events in our own country such as the Civil War, the attack on Pearl and 9/11. Another aspect of this subject is world history. We learn about events such as World War II, the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Communism in Russia and all of the other countries that made up the former Soviet Union. As Christians, however, our concern isn’t merely with these happenings and their implications. We also learn about Biblical history. We learn about the Creation of the world, the flood, the reigns of David and Solomon, and Paul’s missionary journeys. The Bible itself recounts the history that happened to the children of Israel in such passages as Psalm 78 and Acts 7. Moses reminded the children of Israel before he died of how God had delivered them from Egypt and had led them through the wilderness. He also made them remember things they would  rather have forgotten such as the sin of the golden calf and the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Why do we as Christians study both secular and sacred history? In part because we want to learn from the past. Hitler, for instance, would have done well to remember that it is a bad idea to try to invade Russia during the summer, under the impression that one can make a quick journey over there and be out by winter. Napoleon thought that this would work and it wound up being a disaster for him and his army. The same thing happened with Hitler. We also study history in order to stay spiritually sharp. In Hosea’s day there were people who were “…destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Part of the reason for that destruction was that parents simply weren’t teaching their children what God had done for them in the past and what He would do for them in the future. As a result they couldn’t explain the significance of the feast days and sacrifices to their children. Sadly, there are many today who can name the All-star lineup of a baseball game 10 years ago but are unable to recall the names of any of the 12 apostles  or any of the 10 Commandments. This is the result of parents who don’t take their kids to church and make sure as much as they are able to that they are receiving solid doctrinal instruction. It is our duty to listen to the history taught us in Bible and church history class so that we know what went on in Biblical times, what the beliefs of Arminianism and common grace are, and how they came into being, and what happened when our denomination split in 1953. This history can also prove to be not only instructive, but also interesting as well. In studying history we praise God for all that He has done for us. “We have heard with our ears, O God, what our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old” (Psalm 44:1). When we study history, we see how God in His providence has a perfect plan for all things. In the American Revolution, for example, God used the colonist’s wicked rebellion against King George III of England to establish a country where we are free to worship God as He has told us. The same thing is true of church history. When the Christian Reformed Churches adopted the three points of common grace in 1924, the Protestant Reformed Churches were established so that today we have a doctrinally solid denomination that stands with others of like faith around the world. May we always remember the importance of history and thank God for revealing Himself to us through the study of this subject!
Kevin Rau

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