Why History Is Important a - RR160A1a
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Let us begin with prayer. Almighty God our Heavenly Father who with thy grace and mercy hath called us to be thy people. And has given us Thy word that we may have a way wherein to walk. We come into Thy presence mindful of all thy past and present mercy. To study the past and present in terms of Thy love. We thank Thee that according to Thy word in Thy light shall we see Thine. And life in our hearts and our understanding that we may walk in Thy wisdom and mold our todays and our tomorrows in terms of Thy power and Thy grace and Thy love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As we begin this study of history it is important for us to know what history is about. We have to do with the past, the present and the future whenever we talk about history. We shall see in a few minutes why history is so important with respect to the future. The surprising fact at first glance is that those who are most interested in the future are the ones who study the past most. Thus the first thing that can be said about every one of you who are here tonight is this: you are very intensely concerned about the future. This is why you are interested in the past. We shall see why this is the case. As against the biblical perspective, the biblical faith concerning history, we have throughout the ages the humanistic approach. Humanism has been ambivalent with regards to history and that is it has been of two minds. The Greeks for example were very much disinterested in history. The Egyptians on the other hand who were just as humanistic were very intensely interested in history. The renaissance and the enlightenment despised history. As a matter of fact Voltaire said there wasn’t anything in history that could even be ascertained before 1600. [00:03:08]
During the last century men suddenly became intensely...
During the last century men suddenly became intensely interested in history, humanists. Humanism thus has had a peculiar ambivalence; it has gone from one extreme to the other. It has either regarded history as unimportant, or as all important. It has had very briefly an all or nothing expectation of history. Why? There is a good reason for this: if you deny God, if you say there is no God out there above and beyond history and no absolute law from God, then all your hope has to be from history and from man. You cannot expect any judgment of God to govern history, nor any act of God to overrule the follies of men. Therefore all your hope is pinned therefore on man, on history, on time. You will then either be disillusioned with history and say as Oriental cultures finally did, it is meaningless, it is worthless, ultimately nothingness is all there is and the best man can hope for is to die…a great many moderns have said the same thing. Or else you can say man’s hope is in history. He’s got to create a paradise on earth; he’s got to lick death through medicine, because he has no hope except history. [00:05:07]
One scientist recently, writing on history, has said...
One scientist recently, writing on history, has said that there is some hope in history if anyone is under fifty, because we have a fighting chance of abolishing death and all human problems within the foreseeable future. So those under fifty have a fighting chance. And those who are in their teens, oh by the time they’re matured certainly we’ll have overcome all problems. Now if you have that kind of awe or nothing expectation of history you’re either going to expect history to deliver everything that the Christians believed God could deliver except that you expect it here and now, immediately, or else you’re going to be disillusioned and say, as people did in Saint Paul’s day, let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. This then is the humanistic dilemma concerning history. It has an all or nothing attitude. It expects everything or it turns in total pessimism and says there is no hope in history. I said the humanists about a century or so ago began to be tremendously interested in history, especially after Hagel, and particularly after Darwin. The reason was the doctrine of evolution and the belief that history was seeing the evolution of man from ameba to a kind of a God. Spencer who was the great philosopher of evolution said and I quote:
“Progress is not an accident but a necessity. As surely as a blacksmiths arm grows large and the skin of a laborers hands become thick so surely must the things we call evil and immorality disappear, so surely must man become perfect.” Unquote.
In other words whether you like it or not, no matter what man does, perfection is ahead of us. The whole universe and man are evolving to perfection. This faith however began to shatter with World War 1. Now man says now nature and evolution are not moving to perfection but man can make himself, man can guide his evolution, man through the scientific socialist state, through science, can remake himself and become perfect. [00:08:24]
But pessimism in spite of these scientists haunts modern...
But pessimism in spite of these scientists haunts modern man. Even as men began to talk about how glorious history will be, they were haunted in the last century by pessimism. One of the best examples of this is the poet Tennyson. Tennyson in his poetry spoke in terms of this new faith in science and he say a tremendous future for man, man was going to remake the world, man was preparing the way for a glorious future and yet at the same time he had tremendous doubts. Intense pessimism and despair and his poetry reflects it. For example in one poem he wrote, entitled The Plague, just four lines, he said: “Act first this earth a stage so gloom to it woe, you all but sicken at the shifting scenes, but yet be patient, our playwright may show in some fifth act what this world drama means.” And that poem Tennyson said viewing the world without God he felt nothing but sick, sick at what history was. And yet he told himself, be patient, our playwright which may be God or may be nature may somehow pull a fifth act in which this horrible tragedy turns out to be one with a good ending. [00:10:31]
He concluded in The Morium, with four lines which said...
He concluded in The Morium, with four lines which said: “That God which ever lived and moves, one God, one law, one element, and one thought oft divine event to which the whole creation moves.” He expressed therein a hope that history was going to end in something good inspite of the mess it’s in now. But even as he spoke of God, one God, one element, in other words everything is God. So men are gods and nature is god and the whole thing is evolving into some kind of fifth act which is going to be better then everything that went before. And his real faith came out in the line: “The hills are shadows and they flow from form to form and nothing stands, they melt like mist. The solid lands like clouds, they shape themselves and go.” In those lines he saw the past not as anything solid, not as anything substantial but as a world which had evolved so that the continents and the hills, the mountains and the trees had changed and everything was in a perpetual flux, a perpetual change. And therefore there was no hope in the past, no hope in the presence, only some possible fifth act which was a question mark which somehow would pull rabbits out of a hat and say history is going to wind up beautifully. It is a very interesting fact, but when this kind of view that Tennyson had begun to be popular and infected the churches you had the rise of premillennial thinking. [00:12:34]
Why? Because in effect what premillennial says there...
Why? Because in effect what premillennial says there’s no hope today, there has been no hope in the past, history is a mess but somehow at the end a fifth act is going to save everything. But at the same time you had revolutionary thinking saying the same thing. What is the essence of Marxist thought? All of history is oppression and a horrible mess but a fifth act which man is going to engineer or evolution, is somehow going to pull rabbits out of a hat and you’re going to have instant perfection when you have a worldwide revolution. But this kind of thinking is a despairing one. It surrenders history, it says it’s all meaningless and it’s a fifth act which somehow is going to rescue history. But the Bible says known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world, it says that all things work together for good for them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose. So nothing is a mess. Everything has a glorious purpose. We don’t see it now; Luther said it’s like type that’s being set. You can’t read the type until it’s printed. Turned over and printed. But it has meaning, every letter of it. And so every aspect of history has meaning. History is thus a problem to the humanists. Their faith in man makes it unable for them to see any meaning except that meaning that somehow they’re going to pull off some time in the future. The past is not meaningful, it’s the sorted tale of oppression by the capitalists or by kings or by what have you. And the future is not meaningful; it’s a horrible story again. This is why they can treat man as not meaningful. They can feel that man is nothing today but manure for the future. You’ve got to kill some off in order to make room for growth in the future. You use man as manure. [00:15:15]
Some of the Marxists very gladly put it in that kind...
Some of the Marxists very gladly put it in that kind of language. So man yesterday and history yesterday and man today in history today don’t have much meaning, it’s this revolutionary future. How we view history reveals our faith. In whom do we believe? In what do we believe? Thus Gordon Clark in his book on historiography where he summarizes what the various historians and philosophers of history have to say about history makes this statement and I quote:
“Why did the 19th century deny the existence of the Hittite nation? Certainly it was not because of any new evidence previously unknown. The explanation is simply that the earlier centuries by and large accepted the Old Testament account as correct. Whereby the 19th century assumed that the Old Testament must be judged mistaken unless proved innocent by independent evidence. Then since there was not such evidence it followed that the Hittites never lived.” Unquote.
It was that simple. The only evidence for the Hittites, and you could also say the Assyrians, was the Bible. Now nobody had ever doubted this for centuries that the Assyrians lived and the Hittites lived. But beginning even earlier in the 18th century and the latter part of the 19th century and the latter part of the 18th century historians began to say the stories about a great Assyrian empire that ruled the civilized world of ancient times are myths. And the stories about a Hittite empire. There’s no evidence for it. No new evidence as Clark said had been uncovered. What happened was that they disbelieved the Bible so they ruled it out as evidence. Of course subsequently they uncovered Nineveh and they found the Bible was true. They uncovered the capitol that was [unintelligible] of the Hittites and found that here too was a great empire. They uncovered [Unintelligible] and found indeed that Abraham had come from a highly civilized country. They uncovered other civilizations and found that way back there before Abraham’s day and in Abraham’s day they had hot and cold running water and flush toilets. Of course they don’t like to mention that because it doesn’t fit in with evolution very well. [00:18:27]
You see, what they did and what they still do is to...
You see, what they did and what they still do is to rule out the basic textbook in history, the Bible. Their whole chronology of the ancient world is dependent on the Bible but they will not admit it. It is not evidence to them because it is a book that talks about God and declares that God governs history. In other words they are ruled by a faith, they’ll tell you oh well, people who believe in the Bible, they aren’t governed by facts, they’re governed by faith. But are not these people governed by faith when they say ‘because I don’t believe in God and I believe in man therefore the Bible is not true when it talks about the Assyrians or the Hittites and it’s not true today any more than it was yesterday even though it was proven right on those points because I do not believe in such a God. Well that’s an act of faith. It’s a religious presupposition. Every historian begins with a faith and also with expectations. If you have a faith you also have an expectation of hope. This is why people who study the past are those who are interested in the future. This is why as I said earlier you are here because you are interested in the future and you’re studying the past for that reason. [00:20:22]
A humanistic scientist and scholar has written and...
A humanistic scientist and scholar has written and I quote:
“That the future is what man chooses to make it. The future of the future is therefore what we determine it to be, both individually and collectively. The resources of the planet can no longer be possessed by individuals, corporations or national groups any more than these can possess the air we breathe.” Unquote.
Quite a statement isn’t it? He says the future is what we’re going to make it. Now in a sense we can agree with that, if God is included. If what we under God can make it. But he then goes on to say that the future can only be made if we can abandon, and he says emphatically a little later that the moralities of the past are the immoralities of today; therefore we have to abandon Christian faith and Christian morality. And he says we have a new perspective since the French Revolution. And this must govern the future. As a result the idea that anything in the world can be owned by individuals or corporations is nonsense. In other words everything must be owned by the state. Now he has an expectation about the future. As a result he and other scientists because what he has to say is very influential and it reflects the thinking of the modern university world, of our modern scientific world, and our officials in civil government. He is a man who is highly placed on strategic committees and commissions. What he has to say therefore is a plan for the future, is it not? [00:22:38]
A plan for the future in which Christian morality must...
A plan for the future in which Christian morality must be regarded as immorality. What does this tell you? Marriage as we know it, private ownership as we know it, the idea of property and theft as we know it, and you can go on down the line. All these things are immorality. And they must be regarded as such. Now this is a plan for the future, is it not? Where does he get this plan? By reading the past without God, without the Bible. It’s an evolving thing, and what is a roadblock to that evolution today, why it is Christian faith. Everything that man does is a plan for the future. Your home is a plan for the future, now you may not see it that way but your home is a plan for the future because first of all you’re married, you’re faithful. The biblical standard of marriage and of chastity, that’s a plan for the future, you believe that God blesses certain ways of life. You bring up your children in terms of the nurture and the admonition of the Lord; it’s a plan for the future. Every Christian marriage, every kind of life represents a plan for the future in terms of the faith concerning the past and the present. Thus a home is a plan for the future. Every book written is a plan for the future. Because it gives certain ideas, even if it’s a novel, the purpose of which is to guide men’s thinking about life. Every school is a plan for the future and that is why we as Christians cannot have any part in public schools as far as our children are concerned. Because the plan for the future implicit in the curriculum of the modern public school leaves out God. [00:25:34]
Every institution, every association has its purpose...
Every institution, every association has its purpose the prediction and control of the future. We are here tonight because we believe something about the past and the present and therefore are interested in the future in terms of it. Every position thus presupposes the faith and by us it is in the sovereign God. Non-Christian education, government, science, family life, all have a faith concerning the past and a plan for the future of man. Now for us man makes his future under God as a secondary class. And therefore we do what we do in our home and in our work because we believe there is a plan for the future declared by God and his word and which in terms of His law we must obey. And if we do not follow His law plan which governs the future then we are on a collision course. Deuteronomy twenty eight will then be fulfilled against us either as curses or if we obey as blessing. To see what difference it makes let us examine two textbooks, both for high school. One a humanistic one from 1928 which is more conservative than some of the more recent ones. In 1928, it was actually written in 1921, Elson wrote a textbook for junior and senior high entitled Modern Times and the Living Past, Henry W. Elson. In the beginning of the book he said and I quote:
“Again with respect to man’s economic progress, his methods of getting a living, we may divide his career into five stages. First the hunting and fishing stage, two the pastoral or shepherd stage, third the agriculture stage, four the handicraft stage and five the industrial stage.” Unquote.
Is there any evidence for this? No. The first time we meet man in history we find him as highly developed and civilized. In fact the first cultures we have encountered in India and in the Mediterranean world show modern urban life with hot and cold running water, a very modern kind of life. Flush toilets at Crete. We don’t have any earlier knowledge of man really. [00:29:02]
Do we first meet him as a cave man hunting and fishing...
Do we first meet him as a cave man hunting and fishing? No. In fact there really is no evidence for cave men. Just they found a few things in a few caves. And what they found in a few caves in Europe indicated that the people who were there were thoroughly advanced. So they weren’t half ape. Why does Elson say what he does? He then goes on to make a big deal out of these things as though he as a historian knew all about it. But actually what he is saying is since I believe in evolution and evolution means evolving from something primitive to something that is complex, obviously that which is primitive past or most backward has to come first. First of all man was living just by hunting and fishing. But when you study the so called primitive societies, whether in Africa or in the Artic circles, say the Eskimos, you find that if you go back you find those people were once far more advanced than they are now. As a matter of fact they’ve gone downhill over the centuries. Not too long ago a book was published about the Eskimos and the Arctic Circle. Excavations had indicated that once they lived in settled houses and had corrals and were ranchers. But instead of an evolution upward they had deteriorated over the ages. The Eskimo today thus is a far more primitive person than the Eskimo of centuries and centuries ago. That doesn’t fit in with the evolutionary view. But Elson begins with this. And behind that what does he have? Millions and millions of years in which man evolved out of the animals, of some ape relative, and gradually became semi half human, developed a language out of grunting, where’s the evidence for this? He says it’s pre-history, before history. [00:31:37]
All this pre-history before history, how does he know...
All this pre-history before history, how does he know? It’s a faith, is it not? If you begin with such a perspective, evolutionary, it’s going to color your view of the world, is it not. Now let’s turn to another textbook. Again a high school textbook, this time from 1847, so it’s well over a hundred years old. My high school. And it’s a chronological view of the world; it’s a supplementary history text. And the first page, this is the way it begins:
“B.C. Four thousand and four. The world created near the [unintelligible] on Sunday, October the twenty third according to Arch Bishop Usher’s annals of the Old and New Testaments. Five thousand, eight hundred and seventy two according to the [unintelligible]. Four thousand, seven hundred B.C. according to the Samaritan text. Adam and Eve created on Friday, October twenty eighth. The chronology here followed is that of the Hebrews scripture which is generally regarded as the most correct. The difference between this and the Samaritan text and that of the [unintelligible] relates only to the different lengths assigned to the lives of the different patriarchs. And it’s productive of no change in regard to other events.” Unquote. [00:33:10]
Now I’m not interested in the differences in the dates...
Now I’m not interested in the differences in the dates, some scholars will agree with Usher and some will say instead of four thousand four, it was four thousand fifty four, give or take a few years. The point is to consider the vast difference between Elson and Haskell. In Elson you have a man coming out of nowhere half ape evolving blindly towards who knows what. In Haskell’s perspective at a particular point in time God created man in terms of a particular purpose and man has a particular calling and destiny under God. For Elson there is no law. You cannot say there’s an absolute law that says thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, etc. Those who’ve been socially convenient think that man has developed in order to make society possible. It may be that the next step will abolish those things. After all we saw that [unintelligible name] says that the old moralities are now the new immoralities. But in Haskell’s point of view there is a law. In terms of which our forefathers lived and which you must live and your children must live or else they will be and their nations will be under the judgment of God. In terms of Elson’s perspective you don’t know where man really came from or where he’s going to go. In terms of Haskell’s perspective which is Scripture, you know that God created man and that God has ordained the direction in which man shall go. Thus history, the past, is important because those who study history study in terms of the faith and a hope concerning the future. We are here, let me repeat, to study the past because we have a hope and a plan for the future. And we want to understand that plan under God. For us history began with God’s creation. Man disobeyed God and you have the fall. But life was still marvelous in terms of the world as God created it. Then because man having a long life span, living hundreds of years, used that long life span, yes to develop a civilization, but also to develop then progressively an apostasy in contempt of God. [00:36:42]
God therefore destroyed the ancient world...
God therefore destroyed the ancient world. The flood. After the flood God singled out a man and made his covenant with him, guided him and created out of him a nation and gave that nation in written form the law He has declared from the beginning. So that man would have a law-plan whereby he was to be governed. He also gave him a sacrificial system which set forth salvation through the coming Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Then in that nation God made clear the meaning and the pattern of history. They tried various forms of government; they tried the government under the judges, men who were chosen from among the people to rule them. It was a free type of government. You might call it a commonwealth or a republic, Albert J. Knox has said it was the closest thing to the dream of the anarchists as you can get. Because there was as little government by state then man has ever had in his history. It produced some good things; it produced a great deal of evil. Why? Because it was not the form of government but the heart of man that determines things. And so under the judges sometimes it was good and very often it was bad. The book of Judges said in those days there was no king in Israel; that is they did not accept God as their king. And every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Then they went into monarchy, a king. Strong centralized government. They had some good kings and some good years and a lot of bad ones. Mostly bad, just as under the judges. Why? It was not the form of government it was their apostasy from God. So that man cannot, the Bible makes clear, have any form of government however ideal it is. And there are differences, and some are better than others and some are no good at all. But it is not a good form of government that preserves a country but regenerate men, godly men. [00:39:35]
And this the history of the Old Testament makes clear...
And this the history of the Old Testament makes clear. Moreover Saint Paul gives us a perspective on all this in Hebrews, the twelfth chapter, when he says that the things that are are being shaken so that the things that cannot be shaken may alone remain. And here again we’re told how to understand history. History is a continual shaking, is it not? And so as we study history in the following weeks and as you read these notes (we will have more copies for those of you who did not get some tonight) we’re going to see that there is a sifting, a shaking, and this is the pattern that we’re going to study. Why? Because we’re concerned with today and tomorrow. And so we go to scripture and in terms of scripture we go to the history of the ancient world and of the medieval world and the modern world to see that pattern that God is working out. To see that sifting, that shaking. So that we might understand what is that unshakable thing that God is working to establish. I said earlier that every institution, every act of man, every product of man expresses a faith concerning the past and a plan for the future. And I said this is why you are here, because you are planning for the future. Remember this too: that day by day whatever you do, wherever you are represents a plan for the future, whether you are at home working or at a shop or a store, an office or a plant or a school. You are a plan for the future in action. And your problem with the people around you is that they have a different plan and in action for the future. This is the problem of history. And this is why the study the history is so important. [00:42:45]
Well, we have time now for questions, but before we...
Well, we have time now for questions, but before we have the questions I would like to know how many of you did not get the set of notes. One, two, three, four…five…
Yes. What we have to- the question is ‘Was not Adam a very special kind of person in that he had so much to cope with and he did cope with it?’ The answer of course is first of all is that Adam was living in an un-fallen world, where creation was totally good. Moreover, Adam being totally good therefore was open entirely to the guidance of God. Thus very quickly he developed. We are told in Genesis that he named the animals, which in Hebrew means to classify. Names are classification in the Hebrew.