We celebrated my son Rowan’s tenth birthday on Saturday. It’s difficult to believe that my youngest is an entire decade old!
At our house, birthday parties include viewing DVD’s and scrapbooks of our kids’ younger days. We laugh and reminisce about all their firsts: first steps, first words, first birthdays, and first public performances, for example.
It’s such a pleasure to be reminded of the history of each child. How thankful I am for modern technology, which has allowed us to record moments I would otherwise have forgotten – like the sound of Rowan’s belly laughs when he was a baby, or the sight of my husband playing on the floor with all three kids.
The history we view reveals how each child has grown and what he or she has learned. We are fortunate that their history brings us great pride and joy as well – no regrets.
The Bible records and reflects upon a great deal of history. I just finished reading the book of Daniel, which includes the tragic tale of King Belshazzar, son of the great Nebuchadnezzar. Belshazzar had the opportunity to learn from his father’s example, so as not to repeat Nebuchadnezzar’s mistakes – but Belshazzar did not.
If you recall, the proud Nebuchadnezzar was brought low by God. For seven years, Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind and lived as an animal.
The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. – Daniel 4:33
But after that time, Nebuchadnezzar’s mind was restored, and he ruled his kingdom once again – this time, with honor and respect for the one true God.
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. – Daniel 4:34, 37
His son, Belshazzar, knew the story, and yet he chose not to live according to that knowledge. Instead, he disrespected items from God’s temple in a celebration involving idol worship. When a disembodied hand appeared at his party and wrote unidentifiable words on the wall, he called in the ever-faithful Daniel to translate. Daniel began his address to the king with a recitation of the history of Nebuchadnezzar’s life and the lessons Belshazzar should have learned from it, but did not.
And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this. – Daniel 5:22
Belshazzar’s doom was sealed. That very night, he was killed, and his kingdom passed into the hands of another empire.
Though the story is familiar to me, I had not considered if I ever act as Belshazzar did. Do I live my life as I please, without considering the lives of those who have gone before me? Do I read biographies of missionaries, yet not change my own level of commitment to seeing others come to know God? Do I study the lives of women in the Bible without trying to incorporate their strength of character into my own?
God gave us plenty of history in his Word, people from whom we can learn.
But knowledge is fruitless unless we act upon it.
Are you a history buff? How do you use lessons from others in your own life? I appreciate your comments and shared wisdom.