The Back Page – History


The Back Page

History

“The only thing we learn from history is … that we don’t learn from history.” Sad. If we are
Christians, we need to learn.
Christians are neither Israel nor under the Law, so why bother reading the Old Testament? One
reason: Israel’s history was recorded to keep us from repeating her mistakes (1 Cor 10:6, 11).
Both testaments urge that we celebrate God’s great deeds in history. The annual Passover was
commanded so that “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With
a mighty hand Yahweh brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’” When Israel crossed the
Jordan River, the nation set up twelve stones, so that “In the future when your descendants ask their
parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For Yahweh
your God dried up the Jordan before you….” In the hours before his betrayal Jesus instituted a memorial
celebration that we still observe today. History.
If asked whether Christianity is primarily Views or News, we should answer News. Our faith hinges
on history—on whether the man Jesus of Nazareth physically rose from the dead in time and space. Not
whether his resurrection is a Nice Idea or What Our Church Teaches or What I Believe, but whether or
not it actually happened. If no, we are of all people most to be pitied. If yes….
The longest book in the New Testament is Luke; the second longest, Acts. Together they comprise a
whole, making Luke the most prolific New Testament author. They both deal with history—what Jesus
began to do and teach (Acts 1:1), and what he continued to do and teach, his ascension providing the
hinge. God (and Luke) obviously thought it important that we know something of our own—as well as
Israel’s—history.
In 2020 Second Cape will be 250 years old. We also have a history—a quarter of a millennium’s
worth. We have passed through ups and downs, advances and retreats, highs and lows. Just as the Old
Testament does not whitewash Israel’s past, parading only the nation’s successes, so we also may do well
to contemplate all of our own, so as not to repeat our mistakes. To the extent we accomplish this, we shall
all be … learning from history.

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