History is one of my favourite subjects to teach because it is just so interesting. I have always been fascinated by tales of bygone years; from the major events on the world stage to the humbler happenings in a small corner of the globe. It is exactly this narrative side to history that compels our interest. Perhaps you have had a boring lecture that was precise on each and every date given. Compare that with a teacher that can bring history to life – like my teacher who used an overhead projector as a prop as she told us about the Spanish Armada!
But there is a more foundational reason why I love teaching history: the old adage is true that history is “His story”. Without Jesus at the centre of our history curriculum all the occurrences of old and the possibilities of tomorrow remain meaningless and abstract. Nevertheless, with Jesus in His rightful place as Lord of history there is a new-found significance. Our God is not that of the Deists who creates the world and leaves it alone to go whichever way it will. No, our God is a personal God that works about all things in this world for His own glory and that through Jesus Christ, building for Himself a bride in this world. Thus history has been, and forever should be, marked by B.C. and A.D., giving Jesus His place at the centre of it all.
When we study different time periods of history we must keep our eyes open for what God is doing at that time for His Church. When we study cultures and civilizations we must ask how they relate to God who demands worship from all. When we see past faults and weaknesses we must ask how we can avoid them in the present to God’s honour. When we see the successes and triumphs of yesterday’s cloud of witnesses we push forward to emulate them.
History requires evaluation, otherwise lessons cannot be learned. But that necessitates the question: by what standard will we assess an event or person? The Word of God gives us the answer. It contains vast numbers of chapters of historical narrative without the author’s explicit evaluation. You, as the reader, are left to evaluate each Bible story. What do you use? The Law of God as our ultimate rule. Why only use it for Biblical history? The Law of God is the right rule to hold up to analyse all world events.
As a teacher, it is not my job to evaluate these events for my pupils, but they must be trained how to do so responsibly using the tools God has given. History classes are not just storytelling; instead they are to help young minds wrestle with the big questions of life that repeat themselves over and over so that they might do the right thing. History is training for life!