The smell of old leather consumed me almost to the point of nausea.
I was still a teenager, visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and staring at a massive pile of children’s shoes. These were shoes left behind by numerous children taken to concentration camps during World War ii. I also remember walking through a dark, windowless, musty cattle car—the means by which many were hauled off to these death camps.
The word “history” doesn’t sound electrifying to some; maybe “museum” evokes images of quiet boredom; and perhaps “artifact” makes you think of something dull and lifeless. But that day, I was quite literally breathing in the past—making it seem more current than what was happening in my present world.
Maybe you have had an experience like that looking at a piece of history, which is all the more amplified if you are viewing something in person with your own eyes. Armstrong Auditorium here in Edmond, Oklahoma, has been home to two groundbreaking, exclusive exhibits, showing literal proof from Bible history—objects bearing the names of biblical personalities.
While these exhibits were in our lobby, our staff made sure those attending summer camps had in-depth guided tours of these astonishing antiquities that these biblical figures once held in their hands.
With that in mind, think about this passage in Jeremiah 3:16-17—which is clearly talking about a time yet to occur: “And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it ….”
As editor in chief Gerald Flurry pointed out in his December 2013 Trumpet article “Finding the Ark of the Covenant,” people will visit the ark of the covenant before the end of this age, but that activity will be useless after Christ returns. After all, that artifact represents God’s presence, and the ark will be far less significant when God’s actual presence is finally here!
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God’s government will change so much about the future. For one, it will diminish the importance of the physical ark of the covenant. It will even change the way we describe God.
Notice this in Jeremiah 23, which describes that future time. Verses 7-8 read: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land” (see also Jeremiah 16:14-15).
In about 55 verses in the Old Testament, your Creator is referenced as the God who brought Israel out of Egypt. But soon there will be a different emphasis in how we talk about God—and what dramatic event He is most known for!
The way history is discussed will be radically updated and reshaped by the events just ahead of us. And yet, because of the establishment of God’s Kingdom, history will take on a more prominent role in the educational system.
Let’s explore how history will be taught and emphasized in the future. Class is about to begin!
The ‘Most Effective Teacher’ Award Goes to …
At this time, the ruling Jesus Christ will emphasize history, as He always has. It will be a historical renaissance, or a rebirth!
First consider the emphasis He places on it today. A great treatise on this subject is our Former Prophets book. It mentions how part of many modern nations’ downfall has to do with rejecting history as a fundamental part of our educational system—what Mr. Flurry calls “an educational plague.”
In the World Tomorrow, history will not be marginalized or have a negative stigma. As the book points out, history becomes prophecy, which is a “law of history.” Because of this law, you could call history a time machine that goes in two directions at once. By seeing into the past, we see how events almost certainly will play out. The book attributes Winston Churchill’s keen foresight to his understanding that “history was both memory and prophecy—that it followed great cycles ….”
Isaiah—the great prophet, partly due to his being an avid historian—penned this: “Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come” (Isaiah 41:22).
The Former Prophets book states: “Many authorities call history our most effective teacher. There is a lot of truth to that statement.” In a world where education is of supreme importance, we will make plenty of use of our “most effective teacher”!
Those prophets who helped pen the Bible under God’s inspiration were well-educated men who thoroughly researched the history they recorded. They didn’t rely on “oral tradition.” Neither did God simply dictate words to them. They were reading, studying and researching! The Former Prophets book says this: “These men kept building their history because of how important it is! Clearly this history was extremely critical and meaningful to the righteous scholars of ancient Israel! If only modern Israel valued it so highly!”
Under Christ’s rule, the nations of Israel will prize history. Those called out of this world today will be ruling with Christ, and we will help Him teach it.
God constantly used historical events as a way to teach His people. He ensures the significant events are written down. For example, in Exodus 17:12-14 after the victory Israel achieved when Moses’s arms were raised during the battle, God commanded Moses to record it in a book. Psalm 135 discusses some of God’s past exploits, and verse 13 states: “Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations.” These history lessons will endure forever (see also Psalm 145:5-7).
Even the holy days themselves show the importance of history to God. So many were designated as a “memorial.” The seventh-day Sabbath is a weekly memorial of God’s creation. The Passover season is a memorial of coming out of Egypt. The bread and wine partaken of by baptized members of God’s Church on Passover is an activity done “in remembrance” of Christ’s sacrifice.
Though the fall holy days largely look forward, the Feast of Trumpets is noted as a memorial in Leviticus 23:24. Even the future-focusing Feast of Tabernacles is also a history lesson: “Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (verses 42-43).
Yes, some of these holy days are a “shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17), but even the feasts that point forward also point backward.
And what happens when all those future events are fulfilled—thus becoming history? Those prophetic feasts will also become memorials of the past. We won’t stop observing the Feast of Tabernacles just because the time it pictures is upon us. Zechariah 14:16 is clear about that. And it says that those assigned to Jerusalem to keep the Feast are of “every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem.” Their Feast site will remind them of the negative history they had in that city.
Likewise the Day of Atonement, picturing Satan’s coming removal from influencing mankind (Revelation 20:1-3), will be history during the World Tomorrow and will turn more into a “memorial” day.
The Bible says history is especially important for people who turned away from God. Thus Moses instructed the Israelites (Deuteronomy 32:7-9), Paul admonished the Hebrews (Hebrews 5:12-14), and Christ reproved the brethren of the Ephesus and Sardis eras (Revelation 2:5; 3:3). But how necessary will this be in the World Tomorrow?
Here is a stunning prophecy specifically about the World Tomorrow—the 1,000-year-rule of the glorified Christ. This specifically mentions how history will be emphasized and taught. Some time will be spent building the “old wastes” (Isaiah 61:4), and these rebuilding projects will serve as a teaching tool. The Prophet Ezekiel states this outright in the context of God converting humanity (Ezekiel 36:26-28).
“Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel. Thus saith the Lord God; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by” (verses 31-34).
Teachers in the Millennium will ensure that people learn from their past mistakes. Then, these people will rebuild ruined areas and cultivate once desolate lands.
Notice why! “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it” (verses 35-36).
This verse almost reads like the script of a tour guide, a history teacher on a school field trip, or a curator at a museum. This land that you see here … it used to be a wasteland, but now it is a paradise!
This reminds me of a second visit I made to the Holocaust Memorial Museum—this time as an adult, with my own family (our oldest son was a teenager himself then). What struck me about this visit was not the pile of shoes. It was camera footage of a concentration camp after its liberation. The Allied troops were escorting neighbors through the camp to see what was going on right outside their backyards. To watch these locals have their eyes opened to the atrocities in their community was profound. I couldn’t help but think of how we will “tour” people through the desolations of the Great Tribulation—and how moving and powerful our lessons will be with such vivid visual aids.
Verse 38 continues: “As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the Lord.”
Once desolate cities will be thriving with “flocks” of humanity observing God’s memorial days—His feasts—all so they can know Him!
God’s teachers will ensure that once ruined areas serve as an education. A passage in Isaiah also reinforces this: “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations” (Isaiah 61:4; see also Isaiah 58:12). The wording here emphasizes the “old,” the “former,” and the “desolations of many generations.” Much of the Millennium will involve these kinds of ruin-raising projects.
Even the word “old” in the Hebrew can mean what is concealed or hidden; the phrase could even be translated “erect the hidden ruins.” This implies a component of exploration, archaeology and unveiling long-buried history—and raising monuments in their memory.
Tomorrow’s Monuments and Museums
Wouldn’t you think there would be plenty of monuments, museums and memorials in the World Tomorrow? The Bible tells us that God often set up monuments to His people mindful of history: You’ve probably heard a lot about the stones placed as a monument both in the Jordan River and other stones brought out of the riverbed to be placed within Israel’s new borders for future generations to remember God’s miracles (see Joshua 4:5-8, 20-24).
In Joshua’s day, Jacob’s pillar stone was to “be a witness unto us” (Joshua 24:25-27)—a stone connected with David’s dynasty for about 3,000 years. What about the new stone of destiny—the prayer rock of God’s end-time Elijah? What a history lesson that will be for those in the coming world!
Other stones will serve as monuments in the next world. This prophecy is found in Isaiah 19: “In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them” (verses 19-20). Here, in Egypt, will be an altar and some kind of stone monument.
If that’s the case in Egypt, how many monuments and museums might there be elsewhere?
Imagine, perhaps, a museum depicting the pre-“World Tomorrow” world so that people a few generations into the Millennium can see what life was like before Christ’s return. Imagine a family walking through and seeing eyeglasses, a wheelchair, a prison cell, a dietary supplement pill, a bicycle lock, a campaign poster, a canteen for “desert” travel (when there will be no more deserts). You can probably think of a number of other things from this world that will be obsolete in the World Tomorrow, which will make great museum mementos and teaching tools.
Perhaps there will be museums detailing the history of God’s Church. After all, this history is important: It’s in the book of Revelation, and it’s the legacy of the Bride of Jesus Christ! Proverbs 10:7 says “the memory of the just is blessed.” Psalm 112 tells us that “the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance” (verse 6).
You can be certain our history will be avidly discussed. People will wonder what it was like to be a youth in the Church age. Perhaps specific museums will spread around the world—some in what was once Oregon, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, just to name a few major locations important to the development of God’s Church in America. Perhaps some in what was formerly called England, France, Italy and Romania—to show the major areas where the Church migrated through the Middle Ages. They probably won’t be hidden in obscure places any more. The locals will know exactly where the significant Church sites are (unlike most of the locals in, say, Newport, Rhode Island). Even with some places burned down or destroyed in the end-time cataclysm, memorials can still be erected in these sites—like the Brahms Museum in Hamburg, Germany, which is housed in a residence across the street from Brahms’s childhood home which was destroyed in World War ii. Perhaps there may be a major Church History Museum in Jerusalem. Perhaps it will have a detailed exhibit for each era, with resurrected spirit representatives from those eras to give guided tours!
Imagine that! With resurrected firstfruits alive, what an amazing resource that will be for the subject of history. Nothing will be left to the interpretation of biased scholars. No more confusion over conflicting accounts and translations of what actually happened. And the ultimate consultant and fact-checker will be God Himself, who has personally witnessed all history!
Christ’s Second Coming will change a lot about how we teach history: His presence makes the ark of the covenant an unnecessary artifact; miracles at His return will change the way we generally describe God; other things will take on new names and descriptions.
What will not change, however, is the emphasis on remembering the past, or the method of remembering events annually, or the method of remembering events through landmarks.
Finally, think of how the emphasis on history will be enhanced. With great figures of Bible history alive and ruling as members in God’s Kingdom, portions of history on which the Bible is now silent will be able to be openly discussed and taught.
What we have been discussing applies specifically to the 1,000-year rule of Jesus Christ. Additionally, all this will aid how we teach people resurrected in the Great White Throne Judgment to follow (Revelation 20:11-12)—those who lived and died during the first 6,000 years of humanity’s existence under Satan’s sway. Beyond that, when New Jerusalem descends and the “former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4), these new heavens and new earth will more dramatically alter the way history is remembered (see Isaiah 65:17).
Certain memories will last forever though. Psalm 45 contains a stunning prophecy about how we are making this kind of history. In this passage, Christ sings to His Bride—those saints of this age ruling with Him in the future: “I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever” (verse 17). The ruling firstfruits of the Family of God—this Bride of Christ—are about to be immortalized: Not just in the literal, eternal-life sense, but in a historical sense. Christ will see to it that we make it into the historical record—moreover, that we will be remembered and praised forever.
Prepare earnestly and diligently to be able to educate this world. Prepare to help bring about this unprecedented renaissance in history, so you can take your permanent place in history!