Israel: The Focal Point of History
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12: 2-3
In this prophecy, God tells Abraham that all of the world will be blessed as a result of Abraham (and by extension, his descendants). One might say that this is not a very specific prophecy; however, there’s good reason for this lack of precision. You see, this may be one of the most expansive prophecies given in the Bible.
The impact of the Jews and, by extension, the Christians who believe in a Jewish Messiah may be the most profound way of studying the progress of human history. What follows here is a listing of the more prominent influences and pragmatic ways that the Judeo-Christian Faith has had on the world. Much of the information that follows is sourced from D. James Kennedy’s fine work, “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born”.
Modern Hospital System:
The Church in Europe (chiefly in Austria) first started hospitals in response to the Bubonic Plague. Before that, there was no such thing as a hospital system. Organized study of medicine on a wide scale began shortly after that.
The Great Centers of Learning we have today owe themselves to the Christian Faith as well. Manyschools and universities were founded as seminaries and places to learn Bible doctrine:
* John Calvin established the Academy at Geneva in 1558 to teach the Bible. This formed the basis of the modern university system.
* One Christian group or another set up the first 123 colleges and universities established inthe Americas.
* Each Ivy League college save for the University of Pennsylvania was founded originally as a seminary (even there, the evangelist George Whitefield played a prominent role).
Christian missionaries are responsible for the codifying or setting to writing most of the world’s languages. Some examples should suffice:
* Ulfilas (311 to 381AD) as a missionary to the Goths and also to the Germanic tribes was the first to take the Germanic language and set it to writing so that he could translate the Bible. His work became the basis for the written German language and its cousin tongue, English.
* Two Christian missionaries, Cyril and Methodius, became known as the “Missionaries to the Slavs” in the 800s. To translate the Bible, they developed the “Cyril Alphabet”. Today more than a quarter of a billion people use the Cyril alphabet including Russia and a number ofEastern European nations.
* Let’s not forget that Johann Gutenberg (the man that Time Magazine rated as the man of the Millennium) invented the movable type printing press in the 15th Century with the hope of being able to mass produce Bibles.
* This says nothing of the 2,000-year-old tradition of the Christian missionaries learning the tongue of some un-reached people group and then setting the language to writing. This is so thatthe Bible can be translated into the language of those trying to be reached
The establishment of the economic system of Capitalism (and therefore, the Free Enterprise System) is birthed out of the Judeo-Christian ethic and the notion that all men have the right to private property. Note the following from the aforementioned D. James Kennedy work:
“What does the Bible say about economics? In the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) alone, we have a sound endorsement of private property, the foundation for all good economics. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not steal’ (Exodus 20: 15), as virtually every theologian for twenty centuries has declared, is a divine guarantee of private property. I cannot steal something from you if you do not own it. Furthermore, in the Decalogue, we even have the command, ‘Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s houseâ¦nor anything that is thy neighbor’s’ (Exodus 20: 17). Again, a clear teaching of private property. This is a critical point because private property is the foundation of capitalism.”
– D. James Kennedy, “What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?” (pg. 109)
Many would attribute the origins of capitalism (certainly as our society knows it) to the greattheologian John Calvin. The notion of the Protestant Work Ethic was birthed out of his influence in Holland, Switzerland, England and France.
Make no mistake about it! The standard of living for the entire world has dramatically improvedas a result of the expansion of capitalism.
Representative Form of Government/Advancement of Civil Liberties:
Some would have us believe that democracy and a republican form of government are owing to a Greek and Roman stamp on the world. While there is an element of truth in this, it should be remembered that both Rome and Athens were slave states with only a small elite grouphaving any rights at all.
No – rather, the establishment of a representative form of government is founded on Judeo-Christian principles and the notion that all men are created equal. Such a statement at its core is a theological one. Equality of men is based upon the premise that we are all created in God’s image – ‘imago dei’ (Genesis 1: 26).
There is a reason that democracy flourishes in those lands where Christianity has draped the backdrop of the culture.
Separation of Political Powers:
American Democracy is grounded upon the ideals of separating political powers. This extends to the branches of the federal government, the delineation of power between the federal and state governments, and the demarcation of power between the state and local governments.This is the best way to ensure that freedom rings in a society.
If you read the writings of the founders of this nation, the separation of powers was viewed as essential. Inherent with this was an understanding of the sinful nature of man. The Jewish model of segregating the offices of prophet, priest and king became the prototype.
Abolition of Slavery:
The abolition of slavery in the Western World (whether it was Great Britain or the United States),began in the pulpits of both powers. Many a British and American minister followed in the steps of Moses as found in Leviticus 25: 10 and proclaimed, “liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
Advancing of Civilization:
Wherever the Christian Message has gone forth – civilization has advanced and the quality of life for all concerned has improved!
Art and Architectural History:
* Romanesque Period (1000 to 1200 AD): 1000 Cathedrals were built all over Europe (from northern Spain to the Rhineland and from Scotland to Italy).
* Gothic Period (1200 to 1400 AD): Classic Cathedrals of Europe were built including the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Paris.
* Renaissance: Michelangelo was a believer and did some of the most profound paintings and sculpture known to man on biblical themes. Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci (although possibly not Christians) certainly filled their works with Christian and biblical themes.
See our link on Math, Science and Engineering for a list of Bible-believing Christians and the branches of science they founded.
Indeed all of the families of the world have been blessed as a result of the Abraham (and more importantly, as a result of his offspring – the Lord Jesus Christ)!