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THE HISTORY OF MAN

BIBLE READING: GENESIS 3.14,15

What History is All About

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel'. (Genesis 3.15) This divine announcement is very important in understanding the history of man. As soon as we begin to read world history we find that much of it has to do with fighting and war. The earth appears as a battleground and so it is. Behind the power struggles of men there is a spiritual warfare in which evil angels are in conflict with the true God. The apostle Paul says that believers 'wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places'. (Ephesians 6.12) It is in this light that we can understand what history is all about.

After Adam as covenant head and representative failed to obey God and brought all of his descendants into sin, misery, condemnation and death, God promised another covenant head, the seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom God would build an eternal kingdom and bring about a new heavens and a new earth. Believers in Christ would be reconciled to God, enjoy his paternal favour and experience everlasting life. The world, the flesh and the Devil seek the overthrow of this kingdom and do what they can to destroy it. In this attempt they will fail. God has already made known the final result. Jesus will reign until all his enemies are made his footstool and he, the promised seed of the women, will prevail.

The Kingdom of God in its Preparatory Form.

The Old Testament records all that took place leading up to the coming of the eternal Son of God in the flesh to establish the Kingdom. In Genesis chapters four to eleven we read how men had become so wicked that the true religion and the promise of life in Christ would be lost. To stop this from happening God called Abraham and promised to make his children a great nation giving them a land and being known among them. In this way the promise of a Redeemer and Saviour would be handed down from generation to generation until the Saviour came. You can read how this began to happen in Genesis chapters twelve to fifty which record the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and his brethren.

Following this period of beginnings God formed the children of Israel (Jacob), Abraham's grandson, into a nation. This is recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges. Although the Egyptians tried to destroy the Israelites God delivered them. He organised them into a nation with civil and religious laws. He led them through the wilderness and planted them in the promised land of Canaan. He gave them leaders and if the people had obeyed God they would have continued to enjoy God's blessing and the knowledge of the true God would have grown among them. But many fell away from Jehovah.

The people's unfaithfulness and the attacks of Philistine enemies led to the establishment of a monarchy. The great king was David, a man after God's own heart. Before him Saul proved a failure. After him his son Solomon reigned but then the kingdom was divided and both parts, Israel in the North and Judah in the South, declined politically and spiritually. There were good kings but more bad ones and in time Assyrians and Babylonians came into the land and carried away the people as captives. During these years of decline God through his prophets made known more clearly the spiritual and heavenly nature of His kingdom. (See the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah, Hosea and Amos).

Though the captured Israelites had many enemies God did not leave true believers. Through the dark years of captivity and afterwards God kept telling the people that his Saviour and kingdom would come. Daniel 2.44 is one example: 'And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed'. The people's hopes were further revived by being able to go back to the promised land and although later the great empires of Greece and Rome held sway, devout Israelites waited 'for the consolation of Israel' and the Light 'to lighten the Gentiles'. (See Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi).

The Foundation of the Kingdom.

The faithful in Israel did not wait in vain: 'But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law ' (Galatians 4.4,5a) An angel announced concerning Jesus: 'He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end'. (Luke 1.32,33) In the Gospels we read of the Saviour's perfect life and teachings. We also read about his death instead of those for whom he was covenant head. On the third day he rose from the dead and is alive for evermore, the glorious King of kings. While he lived the ancient Roman Empire was very great. Now it is gone but the Saviour's kingdom goes on. We learn about the character of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven throughout the Scriptures but particularly in the New Testament and especially in such chapters as Matthew five, six and seven.

The Extension of the Kingdom.

The Acts of the Apostles gives an inspired record of the initial expansion of the Church Universal according to the Saviour's command, 'in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth'. (Acts 1.8) We read of the witnessing of Peter, John, Stephen and Philip in the early chapters of the Acts and the initial extension of the Church among those who were not Jews. The later chapters deal with the missionary labours of the Apostle Paul and his eventual testimony in Rome the capital of the Empire. For developments after this we must turn to the writings of uninspired men many of which are highly reliable, but are not part of the rule of faith and practice that we have in the Word of God written.

Activities

WORDS TO LEARN

Announcement, principalities, paternal, generation, civil, monarchy, revived, ancient, missionary.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

1. What has much of human history been connected with?

2. What lies behind the struggles of men for power?

3. Why did Jesus Christ come into the world?

4. What is the Devil seeking to do?

5. Why did God call Abraham?

6. List the main stages by which the children of Israel became a nation.

7. Why was David a special king?

8. What has been more clearly revealed through the prophets?

9. What had first place in the hearts of devout Israelites after the exile?

10. What had God promised to the Lord Jesus Christ?

11. What do we read about in The Acts of the Apostles?

THINGS TO DO

1. Draw pictures and maps of parts of the ancient world

2. Make models of ancient buildings.

3. Visit museums and ancient ruins and record what you have seen.

BOOKS TO READ

You can learn more about God's people by reading parts of the Bible books mentioned in this lesson. Your teacher will tell you where you can read about Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and his brethren, Moses and Pharaoh, Joshua and Jericho, Samson, Gideon, David and Jonathan, Solomon and the Temple, Elijah the prophet, Hezekiah the king, and Nehemiah and Ezra. As you learn more about these men you will increase in knowledge about the history of God's people in a hostile world.

Make your own study of women of the Bible.

Your teacher will be able to tell you which chapters of the Acts of the Apostles to read in order to learn about important events in the church.

A TABLE TO COMPLETE

Use Genesis 5 to complete the following table:

                            THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM

Verse

Name

Age at End of Life

5

A

 

8

S

 

11

E

 

14

C

 

17

M

 

20

J

 

23

E

 

27

M

 

31

L

 

What was special about Enoch? (verse 24)