Tuesday, April 23 2024 - 10:25 AM

Sharing Scripture — March 9, 2024

Lessons of the Past

 

For use: March 3 – 9, 2024
Texts: Psalm 78; 80; 105; 106; 135; Galatians 3:29; Numbers 6:22-27

 

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”
— Edmund Burke

During the Antarctic summer of 1911-1912, two teams of explorers engaged in a race to be the first to plant their nation’s flag at the geographic South Pole.

Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian crew arrived at the pole on December 14, 1911, 34 days ahead of Robert Falcon Scott’s British team. When the British team arrived on January 17, they found the Norwegian flag already planted.

The Norwegians’ story ended in triumph. Amundsen reached the pole first and brought all of his men home safely (they actually gained weight on the trip). They arrived back at their base camp seven days after Scott reached the pole, and then they returned to civilization.

Scott’s story ended in tragedy: They all perished on their return trip, about 10 miles short of their “One Ton Depot” supply cache.

The difference between the two stories, according to many historians, is that one leader learned lessons from the past, and the other did not.

Amundsen studied the previous experiences of polar explorers like Ernest Shackelton, Admiral Richard Byrd, and Fridtjof Nansen. From their reports he learned that dog sled teams and cross-country skiing were the best forms of transport across the frozen wasteland.

Scott rejected those lessons and relied on ponies (which quickly froze to death), and an early form of snowmobile called motor sledges (which broke down immediately). His favorite form of transport, however, was man hauling, a grueling slog in which he forced his men to physically drag their supply sleds to the pole and back on foot. They unnecessarily worked themselves to death.

Amundsen’s study of history resulted in success; Scott’s neglect of history led to tragic failure.

The psalmists regularly recount Israel’s history as both a form of praise to God and a warning against forgetting those lessons.

Psalm 105:2-5 encourages the reader to “Sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. … Remember the wonders he has done; his miracles and the judgments he pronounced.”

Psalm 106:13-15, however, recalls what happens when God’s people forget those wonderful acts, by recollecting what happened to the ancient Israelites: “They soon forgot what he had done. … They gave in to their craving (and) put God to the test. So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them.”

God blesses us with the Scripture record so we can examine the experiences of those who have gone before us. We can learn from their triumphs and failures … if we will study them.

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: What mistake did you make only once? Disclose to your group any details that you feel comfortable sharing. Why did this episode in your life make such a strong impact on you?

Sharing: The Old Testament record seems to be a tiresome cycle of triumph and failure among God’s ancient people: God blesses them; they forget those blessings and turn from God; God disciplines them; they remember and repent and God blesses them again; they forget and turn from God; and the cycle continues. How can we avoid falling into the same endless cycle?

  1. It helps to regularly reflect on the absolute disaster that results from spiritual failure
  2. Well, we are much smarter today than the ancient Israelites and so we just know better
  3. Human nature is the same today as always, so it’s good that the psalmists encourage us to “remember”
  4. I need to pray and read the Scriptures daily because there are so many distractions that can turn me away from God in an instant
  5. We can learn from observing others, or from our own experiences of trial and error, but either way, we’d better learn to break that cycle in our own lives
  6. Other:

Applying: Do a review of the history of your study group: How did you begin? What have you learned along the way? Where do you see this group going in the future? What successes can you celebrate? What challenges have you overcome? Make a promise among yourselves to live by the lessons from your past.

Valuing: Is there some area of your life where you have determined that failure is not an option? What are your personal strategies for success? In the next few days, do an honest evaluation of how you are doing, and seek God’s guidance to continue on the path to success.

~ Chuck Burkeen


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As One Who Serves

 

Our newest resource, As One Who Serves: Perspectives on Adventist Mission & Ministry to Members, Families, and Communities is now available!

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