Those of us who live in Christian circles hear the word “worldview” frequently. Our worldview is the filter we use to interpret the world around us. To put it another way, our worldview is the lens through which we see reality. Having a biblical worldview is especially important when studying history, including not just past events but also current and future events. Seeing history through biblical eyes means seeing the spiritual significance of events around us, and not just the physical. The physical events around us are connected to the spiritual realm, and in fact the spiritual drives the physical. Most people only see the physical and do not see the real issues, which are the spiritual issues. They interpret events in terms of physical cause and effect, and miss the real reason why things are happening, and the direction in which they are going. Most people in the world do not recognize God’s sovereignty in directing history according to His plan, and they do not understand how present events fit into that plan.
What, specifically, does a biblical view of history consist of? First, the Bible presents a teleological (goal-oriented) view of history. There is purpose and direction in history, not just undirected occurrence or a meaningless cycle of events. History began in purpose, and it is heading toward ultimate goals and ends. The Bible teaches that the objective of history is the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth, an event which is initiated by the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. When this final purpose, and all it entails, is entirely fulfilled, history itself will end, so to speak, as an unchanging and eternal state of affairs is established. God created purposefully, unfolds history purposefully, and ends history purposefully. This is a very, very different worldview than all other views of history.
Second, history consists not just of undirected human action, but also supernatural intervention. History does not happen by accident, but according to God’s plan and purpose. Yet within that plan and purpose are men making free choices according to their own plans and purposes and Satan acting in opposition to God according to his own plans and purposes. It is always a challenge for the Christian historian to know how much of history to attribute to divine (or Satanic) action, and how much to attribute to human action. Most events involve a combination of both.
Third, history can only be understood properly when it is cast in terms of the conflict between the serpent and his seed and the woman and her seed as described in Genesis 3:15. Satan acts in history as the enemy of the human race and of its Redeemer, yet his opposition is used by God to bring about his own destruction in accordance with God’s purposes, for the death blow to the serpent is the direct result of his own attack on the woman’s seed. Ultimately, all of history after the fall must be viewed in terms of a spiritual conflict between God, as man’s friend, and Satan, as man’s foe, that is centered on the fate of the human race. Therefore two questions should be asked of every era of history: how is God working, and how is Satan working? Further, Genesis 3:15 can be viewed as the organizing principle of history, for all of the pivotal events in history are also the pivotal events in this conflict—the fall, the incarnation, the cross, the second advent, and the final judgment. To these could be added the call of Abraham and the covenants made with Abraham and the Jewish people. In short, it is impossible to understand history correctly without interpreting it in terms of the conflict described in Genesis 3:15.
To be continued . . .