One of the fundamental (yes, I used that word “fundamental”) principles of the Christian worldview of history is that all history is linear. In other words, it began somewhere and will end (as we know it) somewhere. All human history began at creation and it will culminate with the return of Jesus Christ on the final day.[i] In the course of this history, God has sovereignly directed all things that shall come to pass (Isaiah 46:8-10). Yet, in the study of history, one often sees patterns that appear to recur. An example of this is found in the history of the Bible. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, there appears to be a series of profound crisis that redound to great victories for the people of God.
The flood in Noah’s day, though a great judgment on the world, was a time of salvation for faithful Noah and his progeny. The Old Testament patriarch Joseph, though despised by his brothers and enslaved by the Egyptians, would be the one who brings salvation to his brothers, the people of Israel and the Egyptians. King David’s exile and “fugitive” status would be his proving ground to test his faithfulness, his perseverance and his ability to rule. The exile of the Jews, while under foreign nations, is the impetus for the entire world to hear and receive the word of God (Esther 9:29-32; here we see that the Jews inhabited the 127 provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus which stretched across the known world from the Atlantic to the Pacific – all of Eurasia). The penultimate example being that of Jesus Christ himself, who was crucified, His influence on earth seemingly ended, only to rise from the dead and be given “all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Someone once wrote, “The Bible is a series of victories profoundly disguised as defeats.”
This brings me back to the importance of the sovereignty of God and His immutable nature (Malachi 3:6). All of history is God’s handiwork that brings glory to His name and blessings to His people. Today is no different because God has not changed. The history of the Church is a series of advances and persecutions which bring about greater advances. Of the increase of the Christ’s government and His peace THERE SHALL BE NO END (Isaiah 9:7). And we know this to be true for that same verse states, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” God is zealous to have His Son’s government and peace to cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. Why else would the Father say to the Son, “Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 1.10:1, Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:43, Acts 2:35, Hebrews 1:13, 10:13)
God is still sovereign and He is still advancing the kingdom of His dear Son. What then should we expect today? Should we expect the unimpeded linear advancing of Christ’s kingdom without struggle or persecution, or should we expect “victories profoundly disguised as defeats”, all the while Christ’s enemies are being exposed and defeated as the Father has promised? I expect the latter and not the former. Why? Because God does not change and He is zealous to perform this.
[i] This is the view of human history in its “fallen state”. Once Jesus returns, all history will be redeemed to that state prior to the fall of Adam where sin and death will be forever destroyed. Life will continue eternally for those who are redeemed. In this sense, the Christian view of history is unending.