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A Lesson from History

(Romans 11:1–6 / 1 Kings 19:9–18)

In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill said, "Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” It comes from a George Santayana quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Combine the two quotes and you get, if you forget what happened in the past or failed to learn lessons from what happened in the past you are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. This is a warning. However, the value of history is not just to warn you of what not to do, but also to inspire you, to encourage you, to help you to see that there is nothing new under the sun. In dark and dismal times, when all seems hopeless, when the will to forge ahead is beginning to flag, in times when it would be easy to give up – in the past, others who faced similar obstacles with a comparable sense of foreboding and seemingly without strength to go on, somehow, someway persisted and made it through. They faced the adversity head on, and God pulled them through.

I recently read of the despair of Malcom Muggeridge, who was overcome with dark and depressing thoughts one night, as a spy in World War II. He wrote, “I lay on my bed full of stale liquor and despair, alone in the universe, in eternity, with no glimmer of light.” He decided to end his life, so he drove to the Madagascar coast, and began to swim out to sea. He would swim until he was exhausted and not be able to make it back to shore. However, looking back he saw the distant lights upon the shore and decided to swim back. Despite fatigue, he made it back and was overcome with a sense of “overwhelming joy.” He perceived that in that dark hour, God was the one who pulled him back. Muggeridge in time became a Christian, and he used his extraordinary literary talents to make Christ known. That memorable night was a moment in his personal history to remind himself of God’s presence and help in his life. Lessons from history, whether one’s own personal history, or on a larger national scale, can remind us of God’s presence and care. (Muggeridge’s story was taken from a piece written by Tim Gustafson, in Our Daily Bread, Thursday, July 23, 2020).

In today’s passage from Romans, Paul has been writing of unfulfilled expectations. He had preached about Christ to people of his own Jewish ethnicity, but they had turned a deaf ear. They did not want to hear it and he realized that such was also the case for that famous Old Testament prophet. Elijah. He experienced a similar discouragement. Looking back into history, Elijah’s story had a lesson, a lesson of encouragement. It was a lesson from the past, that Paul wanted his hearers to understand. Would you like to hear what it was? Then come and join us for worship this Sunday, July 26, 2020, at the Bible Baptist Church of Galway, 2095 East Street, Galway, NY at 11 AM. For the sake of others, please wear a mask coming as you enter and leave. Once seated you may remove it in designated areas.

You will not only learn the lesson Paul understood from the Elijah story, but also the value and importance of knowing history for our own well-being. There will be a biblical feast for all who come. Bring your appetite for learning and do not miss out! We hope to see you there.

Sermon Handout


The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32)

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