Being interested in the history which has shaped the present-day world and in historical events which are of significance to all people, I have compiled a brief list of significant events to which all would do well to give heed. They are events about which most — at least in my generation — have heard but which many seem to ignore.
The most significant events in human history are not the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman Empires. They do not include the discovery of the Americas or the formation of the United States. Important inventions or major medical breakthroughs are not on my list, either. Though certainly important, these and other significant events in human history rank small in comparison to the five events which I share with you in the following paragraphs.
The first event, of course, is man’s creation. All else is hinged to this event. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And on the sixth day, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).
Genesis, chapter two, describes man’s creation in more detail: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (v. 7).
God created man in His own image and likeness. He gave man life, not only physical but spiritual. Man was created knowing God and God’s perfect will, loving God, trusting Him and seeking God’s honor and glory. Man was perfect and without sin.
And, because the LORD God created man, every one of us is responsible to the God who made us and all things. It is a fact we cannot escape even if we deny it.
The second significant event is the fall of man recorded in Genesis, chapter three. This event, too, affects everything. When Adam and Eve doubted God’s Word and disobeyed God’s command, all was changed. Read Genesis three.
Adam and Eve lost their perfect relationship with God. They were afraid of Him, hid from Him and sought to excuse themselves of responsibility for their sin by passing the blame. As a result of their sin, death came into the world — spiritual, physical and eternal. Adam and Eve lost the image of their Maker. Their knowledge of God and His will was darkened. Their love for God, trust in Him and desire to honor Him was gone. Instead, their thoughts and desires were turned in upon themselves and upon their own sinful longings — evil continually (Genesis 6:5; 8:21).
And, of course, this sin infects us all. The Bible tells us: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12; cf. Psalm 51:5). Each of us, from conception and birth onward, is sinful in that we are self-centered and self-seeking rather than loving God, trusting Him and seeking His will and glory. Indeed, our lives, our families and the world in which we live are in ruins because of our selfishness and sin. Instead of listening to God, we by nature seek our own way and path. And what a mess we’ve made of things! All of creation suffers and is under a curse because of mankind’s sin (cf. Romans 8:19-22).
Life, which was meant to be lived without end in fellowship with God our Maker, ends in death. “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). And, as the Bible says, the ultimate end of sinful man is everlasting punishment in the fires of hell prepared for the devil and his evil angels (Matthew 25:41).
The third significant event in man’s history is God’s intervention on our behalf by coming into this world as a man to redeem lost and condemned sinners. God Himself took on human flesh and blood and became true man through the incarnation of the Son of God in the Virgin Mary. God the Son, Jesus Christ, became true man, fulfilled all righteousness for us and suffered and died upon the cross, bearing the just penalty for the sins of all mankind, and rose again.
How amazing it is that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3:16)! “Our Lord Jesus Christ … gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:3,4). “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures … He was buried … He rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “He hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6,7).
Because Jesus Christ came into the world, suffered and died for mankind’s sin and rose again, God is gracious toward us and reaches out to us with love and mercy, offering us forgiveness and life everlasting in fellowship with Him! Through faith in Jesus, we can have forgiveness for all our sins and a place in God’s everlasting kingdom!
The fourth history-changing event is the outpouring of God’s Spirit and His gracious working through the Gospel to bring people to true and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from God’s Spirit, none of us would understand and take hold of the message of the Bible. None of us would see and acknowledge our sinfulness or place our hope and faith in the perfect redemption accomplished for us by Christ Jesus. From the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) to His regenerative work yet today through the preaching and hearing of God’s Word, through the waters of Baptism and through the word and promises connected with the Lord’s Supper, the Spirit of God awakens sinners from spiritual darkness and death to faith in Jesus Christ.
“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
“And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Colossians 2:10-14).
As man’s fall into sin shaped the history of the world, with nations rising and falling, and people living for themselves and carrying out their own sinful longings, so also the working of the Holy Spirit shaped much in human history, with Christianity spreading around the globe and casting its influence upon governments, thinking and society in general. And, of course, it has shaped for many of us, our history after this world is done.
The fifth and final significant event in history is yet to come but will come just as surely as the first have come. I speak of the end of this world as we know it and the day of judgment. It is the day “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
It is the day when all who have turned from their unbelief and sin to faith in Jesus Christ will be received into God’s everlasting kingdom of glory, the day when this world and all the works of it are burned up, and the day when all who have not repented of their evil ways and turned to Christ Jesus will be condemned to everlasting torment in the lake of fire, which is the second death (cf. 2 Peter 3:7-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13 — 5:11).
This final event will shape all of human history from then forward, for all the impenitent and unbelieving will be forever cast out of God’s kingdom to suffer in hell, and all who have turned to Christ Jesus will dwell forever with the LORD God in a new and perfect creation, never to sin or fall again (Isaiah 65:17ff.; Revelation 20-22).
And what do these significant events mean for us today? Quite simply, it’s time to believe the witness of God’s Word, the Bible, and take it to heart. It’s time to repent and look to Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life! The very reason this sinful world goes on is God’s patience with you and with me. He does not want us to be condemned with the world but to repent and be saved through faith in His Son.
As the Bible says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come …” (2 Peter 3:9,10).
And since the Day of the Lord is coming — perhaps much sooner than most expect — we would be wise to consider these significant historical events recorded for us in the pages of the Bible and place our hope and confidence in the Son! On that day, the rest of human history will matter little.