Monday 8th June
One of the challenges of our present age is our understanding of history. History is certainly more than remembering dates and names, although if you are a child in school it might seem it is all about the Tudors! The book ‘1066 and All That’ took a sideways glance at British history and in a humorous way tried to make it both memorable and fun. Some historians write from the perspective of a neutral observer, others make no bones of the fact that history is inevitably political.

The Old Testament is written by numerous writers who mostly write through the perspective of not politics but faith and religion. Even the so called history books like Kings and Chronicles are as much about God’s interaction with His people as they are about recording factual events. Although perhaps surprisingly for a religious text much of it fits perfectly with the archaeological record, but even then it is interpreted for an audience of faith. It certainly isn’t history as we would define it now because it is telling the story of salvation.

I love history and I believe we should continually look back to discern the future. It is only when we understand where we have come from that we can truly understand the present and future. The writer of Hebrews understood this only too well as they lay out for their readers and listeners the whole of the history of salvation:

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. … These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

History is never neutral, people will look back in years to come and interpret these days in ways we cannot imagine. Actions which now seem acceptable and normal to us may well be reinterpreted by a new normal seen through the cultural lens of its time. As Christians our anchor and fixed point is the cross, death and resurrection of Jesus and we need to interpret the actions and activities of our time through this lens. Jesus accused the religious people of his time for understanding the environment but missing the spiritual realities.

“He replied, ‘When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

So whether you love history or prefer to think on the future make sure you know how to interpret the times.

As we pray today ask God to give you the spiritual discernment to see our present times as he sees them. Ask Him to allow you to see the spiritual realities not just the earthly ones. Pray too for those who lead our nation at this time that they will speak truth and work for justice and that they might work for the common good and not out of self interest and political expediency. That wisdom to do the right thing in the pandemic might over rule the desire for a popular quick fix.

O God, we thank Thee for Thy Church,
founded upon Thy Word, that challenges
us to do more than sing or pray,
but go out and work as though the very
answer to our prayers depended on us
and not upon Thee.
Help us realize that man was created to
shine like the stars and live on through
all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect peace,
help us to walk together, pray together, sing together,
and live together until that day when all
God’s children, will rejoice in on common band of humanity,
in the kingdom of our Lord and our God.