Monday, April 2, 2012

Forgetting the Past

There are several versions of a common phrase "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." or "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." or "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." Some credit Winston Churchill for this phrase, others credit George Santayana and some say the phrase goes back to the 1700's when British Statesman Edmund Burke mentioned it. Regardless of who coined it the phrase is a very true one. Along the same lines is a quote attributed to George Orwell that says “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” The essence of these statements is that our past is vitally important to our current state of affairs, not only as a nation but as a family. If we do not study our past and teach it to our children we will find ourselves in a mess.

As I was reading this morning I came across this idea of a lack of knowing about someone's past having a very negative impact on their present circumstances.
Judges 2: 6-15 -  6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.

 8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

 10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They provoked the LORD to anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
Look at what happened. In verse 7 there was a group of people who saw all the great things the LORD had done for Israel. In verse 10 we see where the very next generation grew up not knowing what the LORD had done for Israel. They had not been taught about their past, their history had been ignored. As a result we see where they found themselves at the very end of verse 15 - "They were in great distress." I think this describes where we as a society are finding ourselves, in great distress. Our world is in distress, our country is in distress, our churches are in distress and our families are in distress.

So what do we do? Do we go to our local college and sign up for a history course. I believe we need to pull out our Bibles, dust them off and start reading. Take a look at this information from the website:

Readership of the Bible has declined from the 1980s overall, from 73% to 59% today. The percentage of frequent readers, that is, those who read the Bible at least once a week, has decreased slightly over the last decade, from 40% in 1990 to 37% today. About one American in seven reports an involvement that goes beyond reading the Bible. Fourteen percent currently belong to a Bible study group. In terms of frequency of readership, 16% of Americans say that they read the Bible every day, 21% say they read it weekly, 12% say they read the Bible monthly, 10% say less than monthly and 41% say that they rarely or never read the Bible.

The nation of Israel was in great distress because they forgot the their history and how God moved and provided and took care of them. They forgot the commands of God and why he gave Moses the commands. We seem to be heading down the same path that the nation of Israel was headed down. We seem to be distressed but there is hope if we do what God has instructed us to do.
Deuteronomy 11: 18-21 - 18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Psalm 119: 9-16
9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
   By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word. 

Acts 17: 11 - Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
We cannot forget the past, we cannot ignore the word of God without falling into the same state of distress others have found themselves in. Start today, pick up your Bible and ask God to speak to you as you read, ask him to show you how he wants you to live, ask him to help you learn from the past so you don't make the same mistakes as those who have gone before you. Don't forget the past, don't ignore the past, learn from it.

No comments:

Post a Comment