I was asking my grandchildren what their favorite school subjects are as another year marches closer. Their answers give me clues about who they are and their interests. (I confess that as a former teacher I am also just plain curious.) Even within the same family, no two children give me the same answer.
One of my favorite subjects was and is history. I caught it from my dad. He had so many tidbits of information beyond a list of dates or facts. He read the stories of the people, places, and events to learn about those time periods not only to pass a test, but also to learn about the stories behind those things. He had a marvelous sentence to remember the last names of the presidents of the United States. (My daughter learned it and taught it to her children who are home schooled.)
It seems that the subject of history has slipped into a catchall subject of social studies for some time now. It combines the old subjects of geography and history. Too often it can leave out the very stories and information my father knew and shared with me that I love to this very day.
I know when I mention the word history more than a few people may groan, is it because they don’t have the whole picture? One modern example that helps the interest come alive is a recent book entitled George Washington’s Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade. Modern students get a glimpse into a piece of history that will surprise them. Of course there are other fascinating stories out there as well.
History has such a value to us. From it we can learn not only what happened, but also what the actions of those who lived then produced. It gives us the bonus of what they learned from their mistakes as well as their successes. That helps us equip ourselves to benefit from those who came before us in many ways. We often hear that “hindsight is 20/20” and it’s true. If we had known what we learned after a situation or event before these occurred, wisdom and discernment might have guided us to better choices.
Esther Meek made this observation in her thought-provoking book, Learning to Know:
“Every age in history is especially blind to its own assumptions. When you read books from a different era, you will be helped to see what your own age over-looks. For while they will exhibit the characteristic blindness of their own age, their blindness falls in different areas from yours.”
She also says:
“We can be especially blind to the things that we rely on that are close to us, whether they are bodily behaviors or philosophical assumptions.”
I can attest to the truth in that as I look back over my lifetime, but I also see it in the Bible as well. How often we see Jesus speaking from the book of Isaiah and other Old Testament passages when He ministered on the earth. He was pointing back to truths those He spoke to should already know and yet they didn’t know them. He reminded those who believed in Him that what had happened and been written before was given to help them with now.
If they had known and understood passages in Isaiah, how could they have missed that the hoped for Messiah stood in front of them? Do we make the same mistake by not reading what God has told us to guide us toward the return of Jesus? There is much to learn and see beyond the passages about the “signs of the times” many know in the book of Matthew.
There is a great deal of evidence that mankind is very dense. The causes are varied and include not learning from our mistakes, avoiding truth because we prefer a fantasy version, and also because as Esther Meek says, “our character is bent”. With all the modern devices at hand to gain knowledge, the truth is that we still suffer from the same issues.
We do not need to stay stuck in that place, however.
“Not only are we inexplicably dense; we are also disastrously stuck in our density. But that is the point of the life-giving message of the good news of Jesus Christ. The one to whom we are resistantly blind is perfectly positioned to cure our blindness.” Esther Meek