The Importance Of History

The Importance Of History

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction.
–1 Corinthians 10:11

Have you seen those late-night comedy programs where they quiz people on the street about history? It always makes me feel better to watch those things. People are really ignorant about history. For example, in one survey, only one in three American citizens could pass the US citizenship test. And 60 percent of respondents could not even name the countries the United States fought against in World War II. People are ignorant of the past. But there is one person who does not think history is unimportant, and that is the Author of history Himself. Over and over again in the Bible, God puts a premium on people remembering their history. In Romans 15:4 Paul said, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The reason we have all of these stories in the Bible is not to entertain us; it is to instruct us so that we can persevere in hope.

The apostle Paul again talked about the importance of history in 1 Corinthians. He wrote this letter to a church that had fallen into immorality, idolatry, bitterness, and back-biting. Yet they comforted themselves by saying, “Our place in heaven is secure, so we can live any way we want to live.” Paul told them, in essence, “Not so fast. If you think God is okay with the way you are living, just look at how He dealt with the Israelites.” The Israelites were God’s own people. They were the recipients of God’s supernatural revelation and His supernatural provision in the wilderness. But God did not look the other way at their disobedience. In 1 Corinthians 10:5 Paul wrote, “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.” In other words, they were struck dead in the wilderness. Their eternal salvation was secure, but they suffered the discipline of God because of their disobedience.

Paul went on in verse 6, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” He said it again in verse 11: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction.” That word “example” is the Greek word “typos,” which literally means “a mark that comes from a blow.” That is where we get our word “type” or “typewriter.” Think about how a typewriter works: you strike a letter key, and it sends a metal bar with that letter on it up toward a ribbon of ink. The metal bar strikes the ribbon of ink, and that blow leaves a mark on the piece of paper. That is what the Israelites were. They bore the blow, the discipline of God, on their lives. Paul told the Corinthians to look at the example of the Israelites so that they would not suffer the same fate. He wrote in verse 12, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” Learn the lessons of the past.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Survival Tip #8: Learn From The Past” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, “National Survey Finds Just 1 In 3 Americans Would Pass Citizenship Test,” news release, October 3, 2018,

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.