Does History Repeat?
Does History Repeat?
I want to start this discussion today a little different than normal, we are experiencing some very trying and difficult times in our country and in our world. I have given this discussion the title “Does History Repeat?” I believe the answer to this question is “Yes”: “Those that do not study history are doomed to repeat history”. There are many statements in the Old Testament that warned us of this fact. When we look at the Israelites in the years just before they were exiled to Babylon in 586 BC we see them going through some very troubling times.
The book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament reveals a lot about the years prior to the exile of the Israelites to Babylon. The book of Jeremiah is not written in chronological order. It is a collection of the sermons that Jeremiah presented to the people to warn them about the conditions of their country at that particular time and the coming exile. All throughout the book of Jeremiah he warns the people that the things that they were doing in their society was not pleasing to God. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, Jeremiah gives the Israelites a warning that reveals a tremendous amount that applies to us today about God’s nature and the things that God dislikes, as Jeremiah quotes God. Jeremiah 9:23–24 (ESV) 23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
When a nation abandons God (voids God’s laws), violence, perversion, and all kinds of corruption will replace God in the life of that country’s citizens – Hosea 4:1-6. In Hosea God tells us that He had a controversy with Israel. God further states that Israel will be destroyed for lack of knowledge of God. God holds a special place for individuals that are helpless, he repeats this many times in Scripture. God repeats the thought that the people had not provided justice for the fatherless and the widows many times in His Word. For example: Isaiah 1:23 (ESV) 23 Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them. Our nation sheds innocent blood, by allowing it to be lawful, simply because of selfishness and convenience.
When a nation’s abominations reach heaven, that nation is in trouble with God. We are shedding innocent blood (abortion) and parading our nation’s sins like Sodom did in, Genesis chapter 19. It is very important to note that for years men of God have warned us of these things. Paul warns us of these things in: Galatians 6:7–8 (ESV) 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
I want to repeat a statement that I made last week: God cannot be over us in one thing, and under us in another, but we must yield to him in every part of our lives. We must completely trust, depend, and obey him in all things.
For the Christian the idea of sovereignty is an encouraging one. For it assures us that nothing is out of God’s control, and that His plans will triumph. The God of the Bible is not a god of man’s own making or thinking or choosing. He is the God of His own Revelation. Colossians 1:17 (ESV) 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. This Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ existed before the universe and that Jesus Christ holds all things together. The will of God keeps this world organized, instead of allowing it to become chaotic. All things are sustained by the actions of God through his son Jesus Christ. Nothing in all creation stands or acts independently of God’s will.
The idea of God’s providence runs throughout Scripture. Providence comes from a Latin expression that means “foresight”. It refers to God’s knowledge of the future, coupled with His response in taking care of His creation and caring for His people. Some of the characteristics of God’s providence defy our comprehension. Nobody has an explanation of why so much human misery persists in this world. Why is suffering so indiscriminate? Why isn’t suffering mete out only to those who deserve it? Why do the innocent suffer from actions and events over which they have no control and often cannot foresee? Why doesn’t God intervene to prevent suffering? These are questions that can only be answered when we look into God’s Word. I can’t answer these questions. What I am attempting to do is to increase your trust in God. Our trust in God depends upon our faith.
As we remember what happened in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were in direct communion with God as He walked in the garden, before they ate of the forbidden tree. The second Adam (Jesus Christ in: 1 Corinthians 15:42-49) came to this earth to restore mankind into that same relationship that Adam and Eve had before they committed sin.
While in the garden Adam and Eve had a choice. Their choice was whether to stay in communion with God or to have a life independent of God. The two trees symbolize that choice and the choice expresses what their heart truly desired. God acknowledged that they had become like Him and the knowledge of good and evil when He expelled them from the garden – Genesis 3:22.
Adam and Eve received the moral knowledge that it was wrong to eat the forbidden fruit. God has not experienced sin. What humanity is lacking is the power or ability to decide for itself what is in its best interest and what is not. That prerogative belongs to God alone; humanity has become like God in that by “knowing good and evil” – Genesis 3:22. Humanity is now able to decide what is moral and what is not. Adam and Eve became gods when they subverted God’s moral authority. When humanity attempts to act autonomously it is indeed attempting to be godlike. When humanity chooses to serve God it chooses life, joy, and fellowship with the divine community.
When humanity chooses to seek its own way it may appear to be liberating. It is actually the path of death. The choice between the two trees was a choice between life in the garden with God and death in alienation from God outside the garden. They chose autonomy and asserted their own authority.
Adam and Eve were excluded from the garden and God’s communal presence – Genesis 3:22. Adam and Eve chose death by choosing their own autonomy and death is what they passed on to their descendants – Romans 5:12.
All the references in Genesis of death referred to physical death, though spiritual death may be implied as well. Death reigns over humanity because Adam and Eve chose their own way. The phrase “you will surely die” is used in Genesis 20:7; 26:11. God will extract the penalty, other passages outside of Genesis also carry the idea that one had come under some kind of penalty that God has imposed. See 1 Samuel 14:44; 22:16; 1 Kings 2:37, 42; 2 Kings 1:4, 6, 16; Jeremiah 26:8; Ezekiel 3:18; 33:8, 14.
As we live in these troubled times, we should apply our knowledge in order not to be so anxious and concerned about the times we are living in. I will leave you with this thought, God Is My Strength and Portion Forever from: Psalm 73:28 (ESV) 28But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.