There’s a cliché that states that “those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.” Many clichés become clichés because they are true, and so it is with this one. When we fail to grasp how we have arrived where we are, we will be less prepared to deal with the events over the next horizon. However, when we have some semblance of where we’ve been, we will be better prepared to get to the place we’re going.
Referring to Israel’s history and its importance for the church, the apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.” In fact, a helpful way of understanding the entire Bible is to see it as one big story – God’s story. From Genesis 1:1 – Revelation 22:21 we see one unified, it not diverse narrative. From creation to new creation is the story of God and his people.
The Biblical scholar, NT Wright, sees the Bible as a 5 act drama which is still unfolding. It began with the creation in Genesis 1-2 and then the next act of un-creation in Genesis 3-11. At Genesis 12, God calls Abraham which flows into the third act, the people of Israel. The gospels are the climax and 4th act of the narrative. We are still living in act 5, the church. In a sense we have a glimpse of the curtain call (the beginning of a new drama, perhaps), but we are presently living between the times in the midst of the fifth act. We know where the plot has been and where it is going, so it is up to us to play our parts faithfully and remain true to the story. Church history is the record of the story up to our day.