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On the Wrong Side of History

History records the successes and failures of kings, nations, ideas, and philosophies throughout the ages.  With the advantage of this hindsight, it is now easy for us to see who was right, who was wrong, what was wise, and what was foolish.  However, those who lived history did not always have such a clear understanding.  Many of them lived and fought for what ultimately proved to be lies, foolishness, and error.  Today we see what they could not see or would not see – that they were on the wrong side of history.

The history of religions is characterized in this same way.  Ancient writings and thousands of archaeological relics from all over the world reveal a plethora of religions, many of which no longer exist.  We can assume that most of those who worshipped their now-extinct gods were sincere in their beliefs and thought that their religion was right.  They too were on the wrong side of history.

For example, consider those who worshipped Artemis of the Ephesians.  Artemis, or Diana to the Romans, was the Greek goddess of fertility.  Ephesus was the home of the spectacular temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  When Paul preached the gospel of Christ in Ephesus, the craftsmen who made idols around the temple were threatened by Paul’s message (Acts 19:23-41).  They feared for their trade and threw the city into an uproar, saying, “Not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis be regarded as worthless and that she whom all of Asia and the world worship will even be dethroned from her magnificence” (Acts 19:27).  Today the temple of Artemis lies in ruins and her magnificence in Ephesus has been replaced by a stagnant cesspool.  Yet the message that Paul preached in Ephesus continues to be preached even now.

Likewise, we may consider Pharaoh, who refused to listen to the voice of Moses when he delivered the command of Jehovah, saying, “Let My people go.”  Instead, Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2).  Ultimately, God delivered His people from the Egyptians through ten plagues, and Pharaoh remains humiliated in the pages of the Bible forevermore.

Even God’s own people Israel put themselves on the wrong side of history.  This is the theme of Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin (Acts 7).  After recalling this tendency throughout the history of Israel, Stephen said to his accusers, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.  Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?  They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it” (Acts 7:51-53).  For this, the Jews had no answer.  Their only response was rage as they stoned Stephen to death.  They may have won the day, but Stephen was the only one among them who is justified in history.

All of these examples have the common thread of men rejecting God’s ways for their own.  They all embodied the words of Gamaliel, who said of the preachers of the gospel, “If it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:39).  Opposing God is the height of stupidity and puts one not only on the wrong side of history but also the wrong side of eternity.

These examples have another critical point in common.  In each case, the people involved had sufficient evidence before them to convince them to choose the way of God.  In Ephesus, Paul performed miracles that were known to all of the Ephesians (Acts 19:17), indicating the veracity of his message.  In Egypt, the signs performed by Moses and Aaron and the plagues should have revealed to Pharaoh that the power of God was with them.  In Israel, there were countless events that proved the righteousness of God.  And in the first century, the miracles of Jesus and His apostles as well as His resurrection were abundant signs that He was the Christ.  Therefore, all of these willfully chose to reject God and place themselves on the wrong side of history.

These things are written for our learning (Rom. 15:4).  Therefore, let us learn that modern opposition to God and His Christ will end in the same way that such opposition has always ended.  God will allow them to choose their foolish paths, but in the end their folly will be exposed.  History will show that they were always in the wrong, even when their contemporaries thought they were right.  Do not be swept away by their trendy, self-serving propaganda.  Let us choose God’s way and be right forevermore.

Stacey E. Durham




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