HIStory: The Importance of History

History. Almost every year a massive history book is handed to you. And every year someone asks themselves, ‘why am I learning about a bunch of dead people?’ It’s a legitimate question.

Why are we learning about a bunch of dead people? It’s all pretty depressing anyway. Wouldn’t it be easier to just forget about them all?

There’s a saying ‘Ignorance is bliss.’ To some degree, that’s true. Sometimes we’re happier  ignorant of bad news rather than having full knowledge of the news. But not everything that feels good is good. I may enjoy drinking a latte but that doesn’t mean the latte is good for me.

In the same way, ignorance may feel nice, but it causes more issues than knowledge would.

  1. History is HIStory – To be ignorant of history is to ignore the story that God, in His providence, has allowed to play out. By having a knowledge and understanding of the past we can have a clearer knowledge and understanding of God’s providence over the course of human history.
  2. Israel – The Bible is full of Israel’s history. It tells of God’s providence, plan, and love for His chosen people. Ultimately if one had never been informed of the promised Messiah, the one promised throughout Israel’s history, one never would have known that Jesus was this promised Messiah. And if no one ever recored Jesus’s death on the cross, then no one would ever have known that He had died to save us for our sins.
  3. We Learn From History – When I make mistakes I can only ask God for forgiveness and grace to learn from them. When we look at the actions of people throughout history we can learn from their choices: good or bad. If we were to forget World War One and Two, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, the slavery of black people, how the Native Americans have been treated throughout US history, etc. we would be in a terrible place. Because, by forgetting these events it allows room for such atrocities to occur again. If, supposedly, none of these events ever took place, it’s easy for people to get swept away by crazy ideals. You see, one of the reasons the Holocaust was allowed to happen was because Hitler brainwashed many of the Germans into thinking killing a whole race of people was acceptable. Today if someone were to propose such ideals, many of us would be shocked and horrified because we would remember what happened when those ideals were accepted. Just as we know the consequences of the atomic bomb, no one ever wants to have to drop one again.
  4. History is Inspiring – Looking at the amazing faith, hope, joy, and perseverance the people before us had inspires us to act in the same way. Just think of all the amazing people in history who have inspired us for the better. Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Einstein, Galileo, Washington, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Elizabeth I, the Brontes, etc, etc.

Below I’ve included some quotes that explain why history is important in a clear and concise way.

  1. “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana
  2. “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Maya Angelou
  3. “What you have striven for will not end in nothing, all that you have done and been will not be wasted, for it will be a part of me as long as I live, and I shall remember, always.” Vera Brittain
  4. “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You’re like a leaf that doesn’t know it’s part of a tree.” Michael Crichton

Not only can we learn about our mistakes and such from history… But we also learn how God has worked in people’s lives. He’s done marvelous things throughout history! And the most wonderful is what He’s done for us by dying on the cross! I hope that by looking at history through the lens of God’s word, we might appreciate and learn from the past. After all history is HIS story.

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