The Bible Lights Up History
FEW history books today really shed much light on history. They may state what happened at a certain time, but the reasons why this or that happened are often pure guesses of men. What is wrong? Worldly historians too often ignore the Word of God; without a knowledge of the inspired Word they are unable to understand history.
When worldly historians ignore the Holy Bible, the result of their works is to put too much emphasis on man, to glorify man and his accomplishments. History, when illuminated by the Bible, really glorifies God and not man.
Though few historians today illuminate their history with rays of light from the Word of God, there have been historians in the past that gave full credit to God. One of them was Charles Rollin, who in the eighteenth century published a four-volume set generally called “Rollin’s Ancient History.” In the introduction he writes the following:
“Although profane history treats only of nations who had imbibed all the chimeras of a superstitious worship, and abandoned themselves to all the irregularities of which human nature, after the fall of the first man, became capable; it nevertheless proclaims universally the greatness of the Almighty, his power, his justice. . . . We must therefore consider as an indisputable principle, and as the basis and foundation to the study of profane history, that the province of the Almighty has, from all eternity, appointed the establishment, duration, and destruction of kingdoms and empires. . . .
“God has vouchsafed to discover to us in holy Scripture, a part of the relation of the several nations of the earth to his own people; and [it] diffuses great light over the history of those nations, of whom we shall have but a very imperfect idea, unless we have recourse to the inspired writers. They alone display, and bring to light, the secret thoughts of princes, their incoherent projects, their foolish pride, their impious and cruel ambition; they reveal the true causes and hidden springs of victories and overthrows; of the grandeur and declension of nations; the rise and ruin of states; and teach us what judgment the Almighty forms both of princes and empires, and consequently, what idea we ourselves ought to entertain of them. . . .
“Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, appears . . . visibly governed by a Providence. . . . Being come at the head of his army to two highways, the one of which led to Jerusalem, and the other to Rabbah, the chief city of the Ammonites, this king, not knowing which of them would be best for him to strike into, debates for sometime with himself, and at last casts lots. God makes the lot fall on Jerusalem, to fulfill the menaces he had pronounced against that city; viz.: to destroy it, to burn the temple, and lead its inhabitants into captivity.
“One would imagine, at first sight, that this king had been prompted to besiege Tyre, merely from a political view, viz.: that he might not leave behind him so powerful and well fortified a city; nevertheless, a superior will had decreed the siege of Tyre. . . .
“When we take a view of the grandeur of empires, the majesty of princes, the glorious actions of great men, the order of civil societies, and the harmony of the different members of which they are composed, the wisdom of legislators, and the learning of philosophers, the earth seems to exhibit nothing to the eye of man but what is great and resplendent; nevertheless, in the eye of God . . . it was wholly polluted and impure. . . . Since it is certain, that all these great men, who were so much boasted of in profane history, were so unhappy as not to know the true God, and to displease him; we should therefore be particularly careful not to extol them too much.”
So the study of history without guidance from God’s Word leads one into many pitfalls, including hero worship and false conclusions as to the reasons for the fall of cities and kingdoms. The wise person lets the Bible light up history not only that he might discern the truth but that God may be glorified.