We Christians simultaneously inhabit three realities: our past, our present, and the future promised us in God’s Word. Our lives are informed by each of those realities, but we failed to keep them in balance when dwelling on past blunders blights our past perspective; or constant longing for times gone by paralyzes our today; or worry about the future simply incapacitates us for present service to God and our fellow humanity.
The following observations show how past experience and future hope can make us productive members of society and servants of God.—Editors.
The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.
Maya Angelou, twenty-first-century American author.
History is a vast early warning system.
Norman Cousins, twentieth-century American author and essayist.
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, twentieth-century philosopher.
Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, former U.S. president.
History never really says goodbye. History says, “See you later.”
Eduardo Galeano, twentieth-century Latin American journalist and author.
God has wisely kept us in the dark concerning future events and reserved for himself the knowledge of them, that he may train us up in a dependence upon himself and a continued readiness for every event.
Matthew Henry, seventeenth-century Bible commentator.
I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.
Billy Graham, twentieth-century American evangelist.
I know that some are always studying the meaning of the fourth toe of the right foot of some beast in prophecy and have never used either foot to go and bring men to Christ. I do not know who the 666 is in Revelation, but I know the world is sick, sick, sick, and the best way to speed the Lord’s return is to win more souls for Him.
Vance Havner, twentieth-century American evangelist.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 13:2).
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
John the Revelator (Rev. 1:3).
The history of the past is but one long struggle upward to equality.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, nineteenth-century social activist.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr., twentieth-century American civil rights activist.
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:20, 21).
The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.
Abraham Lincoln, former U.S. president.
It is important for all of us to appreciate where we come from and how that history has really shaped us in ways that we might not understand.
Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court justice.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Desmond Tutu, twenty-first century South African cleric and human rights activist.
You will bear me witness, my friends, that it is exceedingly seldom I ever intrude into the mysteries of the future with regard either to the Second Advent, the millennial reign, or the first and second resurrection. As often as we come across it in our expositions, we do not turn aside from the point, but if guilty at all on this point, it is rather in being too silent than saying too much.
—Charles Spurgeon, nineteenth-century American evangelist.
There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.
Harry S. Truman, former U.S. president.
As we see the fulfillment of prophecy, our faith in the final triumph of Christ’s kingdom should strengthen; and we should go forth with renewed courage to do our appointed work.
Ellen G. White, cofounder, Seventh-day Adventist Church (Gospel Workers [Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1915], pp. 26, 27).
Let all who have received the light, who have had the opportunity of reading and hearing the prophecy, “take heed to those things that are written therein; for the time is at hand.”
Ellen G. White (Counsels for the Church [Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1991], p. 342).
In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.
Ellen G. White (Life Sketches of Ellen G. White [Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1915], p. 196).