“The Greatest Historian in History”

     Presenter: Dick Stetler – July 2021


    Is there such a thing as a flawless historian?  Readers might be intrigued to learn that the answer is “Yes!”  Consider the news being reported these days.  The days of investigative reporting have faded. Today, the headlines fall by the wayside when the urgency passes.  The idea is not to share vital information; it is about gains being made in the ratings.

    Most of the news we receive is provincial.  How can we gather accurate history when we know so very little of what is happening in China, India, Russia, and Brazil? In spite of the history in the Bible, we have to recognize that all the drama on which we base our religious faith took place in a relatively obscure area of the world that was populated by people who could not read or write. Most written words were recorded by Scribes.   

    How can there be a master reporter that is the best in the world?  Everyone knows that person. That recorder of meaningful information is the face that looks at us in a mirror.  YOU are the greatest historian in history that you will ever know intimately.  How can that be?  We are the ones who must accept or reject what we see and hear.  We are the ones who must trust those who have their fingers on the pulse of where life is taking us.  How does that work?

    The ancient Israelites passed information among themselves that they were God’s chosen people.  Further, they knew that the first five books of the Bible, The Torah, were written by Moses. They trusted what they were taught.  God fought on their side.  God loved them when they were obedient and God turned away from them when they were not. 

    Are any of these historical events true?  Yes, absolutely they are true! Historical facts were not strong enough to supplant the faith of the Hebrews.  Their history was true for them because of their beliefs and not because of the accuracy of recorded events by secular historians. 

    For example, there is little or no archaeological evidence to support that a Hebrew slave named Joseph, rose to be second in command of Egypt during the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine.  But the Joseph story was recorded as one of the first saviors of Jacob’s family.

    The ten plagues that God inflicted on the Egyptians, including God’s sending the angel of death to murder the first-born child among the families of Egypt were true events.  So that the angel would pass over the homes of the Hebrews, the Hebrews were directed to smear blood of a young goat on their doorposts and on the beam above their door.  This was God’s design to soften the hardened heart of Pharaoh who refused to give freedom to the Hebrews.

    The history from Egypt’s historians, written during the same period of time, never mentioned the Hebrews nor the loss of a sizable part of its military when the walls of water from the Red Sea collapsed on Egypt’s charioteers.  In fact, the extensive history by Egypt’s historians indicates that their nation was at a peak of its power during those years and was respected by bordering nations.

    Historically, such a catastrophe did not occur during 1440-1415 B.C. when the Exodus allegedly took place.  The plagues actually happened in 1642 B.C. two hundred years before the Exodus. The entire region for hundreds of miles experienced the most powerful volcanic eruption ever experienced by human beings.

    Thera was a small island in the Aegean Sea, roughly the size of Bermuda.  It was a caldera, the mouth of a super-volcano. Today, the same island is called Santorini. When Thera exploded, it brought an instant end to the Minoan empire headquartered on the island of Crete in 1642 BC.  This disaster that affected the entire Middle East region was borrowed for use in the Exodus narrative. 

    What makes these and many other Hebrew stories absolutely true is that most of the history of the Hebrews was written with the understanding that God was totally in charge of the unfolding of their tribal fellowship.  Regardless of what secular historians have written, the Hebrews saw their history differently, through the eyes of faith. In their eyes, they were God’s chosen people.

    Today, there are countless Christians who have borrowed this point-of-view of the Hebrews.  Their lives are completely being guided by The Lord.  Their personal history is a blanket trust in their loyalty to their concept of The Lord guiding life’s events. The history that people who understand their lives in this manner, is flawlessly accurate for them. Each person is the greatest historian in their history.

    A man very close to me celebrated the life of his wife who, after several years, experienced her death from pancreatic cancer.  Who could find fault or be frustrated by the Lord’s design for all human beings? He was comforted by his understanding that his wife is with Jesus. Because of the alignment of certain clues, he feels that the Lord wants him to sell his home and move to a continuing care retirement community.

    He is acting on that calling as he has done all his life.  For decades his life has been in the hands of the Lord.  For him, there is no other logic, no other planning, no other reading the tea of leaves, or casting lots.  He is totally at peace, without a single worry.  He is the greatest historian his world has ever seen, a history that has unfolded due to his trust in the Lord for every major decision.

    Who can argue with him when his life has resulted in having joy, faithfulness, patience, service to the community, and being a loved pillar in his church? His life has happened because it was and is God’s will.  What will be will be. He is also a millionaire. His deep beliefs and trust in the Lord have been his highest priority, exactly like the evolution of the history of the Hebrews.

    We can better understand why history is so nebulous and often a point-of-view or a system of beliefs rather than the facts that may tell a different story.  Equally, we can understand how people can arrive at a very different way of understanding the unfolding of their lives.  They may think, “I am a victim of racism, of poverty, of having an alcoholic father, of being economically forced out of my job, or of a cyclical theme of bad luck

    One person loves the Lord and another person can curse God as being an absentee landlord.  Both are correct due to their assumptions.  One lives with a spirit of praise and gratitude while the other blames God for a life condemned to hardship and victimhood.  As odd as this appears, we create our own reality.  Doing this makes us the greatest historian in the world.  Jesus recognized this when he said, “Those who sow sparingly, will reap sparingly. Those who sow bountifully, will reap bountifully.”  Life is a matter of attitude.

    We need to ask ourselves, “What are we creating with our thoughts, emotions, and spirit?”  After all, we are the greatest historian that our lives will ever know.  The only history that matters to us is our personal story-line that becomes the judge of how creative we have been.