“Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof.
Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces;
That ye may tell it to the generation following.
For this God is our God for ever and ever.
He will be our guide even unto death.
With these words does the Psalmist inconclude his song of praise to God. And that most beautifully expresses the calling of the Christian school as well as of the church. While the Christian school is dealing with the history of the world, the above truth cannot be ignored without that school losing the first six letters of its name. And we care not at all for an “Ian school”. If we cannot put the Christ there and make it a Christian school, we must not be so deceptive as still to call it a Christian school. Christ and His Church are inseparable. Therefore in the history class must nations and men be judged according to the position they have taken against Christ and His Church, as we remarked last time, but ever and again must the child also be shown in the history class whenever possible that all history is for the benefit of the church. The covenant child in the Christian school must never be left in doubt as to how and where the history of the world will end. He must not be deceived into expecting the Utopia of which the world formerly spoke so enthusiastically and still does but now with feeble hope. Nor must he be terror-struck with the present day pessimism of unbelief according to which man is resigned to the end of civilization and to oblivion. Oblivion is a mighty strange word for the glorious kingdom of Christ which is the real end of the history of this world. And even in the midst of that last terrible battle of Armageddon, which must yet come, the child of God should be taken for a walk about Zion, should have her towers counted, the strength of her bulwarks pointed out to him and the beauty of her palaces declared.
The way history is taught in the worldly schools there is and can be no room for the return of Christ as the climax of all history. And if there ever was a time when that fact of the return of Christ, not only in judgment but also for the glory of His church should be emphasized, that time is now. There is now, as never before, so much that would tend and is used to turn our minds from that blessed truth. God forbid that when our children are taught the history of this world they should receive the impression that the nations of the world which hate Christ and His Church should be extolled and lauded and that they are after all anything more than the chaff which serves the wheat, the scaffold which serves the erection of that glorious temple of God, His Church. But that is repeatedly done in that which calls itself “Christian school”. But properly, the purpose of God, the plan of God should ever be kept before the mind of God’s covenant child in the history class and whenever possible the particular event should be shown in its relation to that end.
This, of course, does not mean that the history class in a Christian school becomes a course in Ecclesiology or Eschatology. It does not and must not become a dogmatics class which specializes in teaching the doctrine of the church and of the last things. But the thing that is required is that somewhere in the history class a few choice remarks in regard to these things should be made. In some historical events a direct bearing can be seen on the Church of God. Always, of course, the Church is benefited by historical events, but not always in the same way. Note point “b” under “2” of the principles we submitted before. We quote it here again, “Nations are born, they rise up, develop and fall at the word of God’s power. They are given power by God (). They live out of the principle of sin ( ), attain many-sided developments and come to great riches, as for example Babylon and Greece and the Antichristian kingdom of . Through all these God also sets forth and forward the cause of His Church in this world, but along that way comes also the fulfilled power of the Antichristian kingdom.” We repeat and underscore the first part of that last sentence, “Through all these God sets forth and forward the cause of His Church.” The towers and bulwarks of Zion are always intact, and that is how history ought to be taught in the Christian school. The purpose and plan of God revealed in the Scriptures must be shown in connection with the history lesson, but the absolute certainty of its realization should also be stressed at every opportunity.
The persecutions the Church has undergone have rid it of dead timber but also have helped to spread the Church geographically to the serving of the gathering of all its elect members from the nations, tongues, and tribes of this earth. The inventions of such things as the printing press, the radio, that swift means of transportation, the plane, hurdling mountains and jungles, (the extensive development of this last mentioned invention occasioned by the last World War) have all served the church. And never forget that both World Wars served the Church. The last one more clearly than the former served the coming of the Antichrist, but also in that very way served the Church of Christ and His glorious return. The printing press served not only for the distribution of the Scriptures but serves also in the multiplication and spread of copies of the truth as the Spirit led the church fathers into the doctrines of God’s Word and serves in the preservation of these thoughts of their study for the ages that followed. The radio, the modern ocean liner, the speedy plane, all serve the feet of them that preach the glad tidings of salvation to the four corners of the earth. The discovery of this country was used by God to set forth and forward the cause of His Church. He provided a haven for the preservation and development of His Church. Certain kings and nations protected the church, and the doctrine developed. Whether they did it in faith or unbelief is beside the point here. Their works must be judged by the Word of God, but regardless of what the motive of their attitude to the church was, in and through it God set forth and forward His Church. And should not the covenant child, who belongs to that church and who is constantly being served by the world, even though the world knows it not and does not deliberately do so, be informed of these things? He should. Take him for a walk around Zion’s towers and bulwarks. Show him Zion’s palaces. There they still stand after all the onslaughts of all the ages! And why should they not? God’s eternal plan calls for a glorious Church in Christ. And all events in history are subservient to that plan. History is not something that God finds and then uses to realize His Church. History is not something against which God must constantly pit His strength and wisdom lest that which He promised in Christ be not fulfilled. He does not use history. He determines it. He planned it eternally, every single event of it, in His eternal counsel. Let the history teacher prepare the lesson in the light of Art. 13 of the Belgic Confession, and the covenant child will not be misled by historical fact. Let me jot down a few of the expressions we read there: “Nothing happens in this world without His appointment. . . . He executes and orders His work in the most excellent and just manner, even then, when devils and wicked men act unjustly. . . .” Historical events have their appointment from God.
And He planned it all for the realization of that glorious Church in Christ. Let the Christian school teacher have this fact in mind when preparing the history lesson. And let the teacher also strive to find the particular way in which an event serves the Church if possible. It will take time and effort, but God’s covenant child requires this presentation. The effort put forth is never vain in the Lord, and the blessedness of teaching in a Christian school is that we behold our works as prospered by the Spirit bearing fruit, and we see our children beginning to observe Zion’s palaces and beginning to count her towers.
By all means, let the Christian school teacher refrain from trying to interest God’s covenant child in the kingdom of the Antichrist. We will indeed have to take our children by the hand in the history class and cause them to stand before that image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. We will have to point out the glory of that kingdom of gold. We will have to show them the kingdoms of silver and brass, iron and clay. We will have to point out where the one exceeds in beauty and wealth in natural things and the other in greater strength of organization and the arm of flesh. But we will have to stand foursquare on the Word of God when we show their culture, art, civilization, organization and all the rest. We will have to remind our children of the truth ofthat “without faith it is impossible to please God”, and that therefore God’s wrath is upon it all even though in and through it all He sets forth and forward cause of His Church. Tubal Cain, that wicked descendant of Cain and of Lamech, had to be the artificer in brass and iron, for the cross of Christ needed the nails which pierced His hands and feet and let forth His precious blood. His work did not proceed from true faith. And without faith he did not please God. But God most surely had the cross of Christ in mind when this historical event of man’s progress in metals and their craft received its appointment from Him. So we could go on. So we must present history to God’s child. We will have to show what men achieved. We will have to take them to stand not only before Babylon the head of gold, Persia, Greece and Rome but also before England, Germany, France, Russia, China, Japan and the United States of America. But we do not fulfill our task unless we remind them that all these perish—as history also has shown—but that there is one kingdom growing quietly and steadily which will presently fill the whole earth according to the purpose of the Almighty God.
Especially today should the child and can the child be taught more clearly than ever before that the kingdoms of this world are heading for the kingdom of the Antichrist. Their culture, wealth, progress in science and industry, just exactly because without faith they cannot in these please God, are employed in the erection of the kingdom of the beast. Let us not try to deceive God’s children. Unbelief and the works apart from faith cannot produce Christ’s kingdom, they must always serve the kingdom of darkness. God’s child must have his attention focused on the temple God is building, and he should be shown as much as is possible in the history class that God is fulfilling His counsel which decrees a glorified Church on the new earth at and through Christ’s return.
Thus we can train our children for life’s calling to seek that kingdom of Christ. Thus we can warn them against the deceptiveness of the Antichristian kingdom. Thus we can instruct them that Jerusalem and Athens must not be united in wedlock. Thus we can train them to be alert for the wolf who comes in sheep’s clothing. Then they can be trained to exercise their heavenly citizenship on this present earth, walking obediently, rendering honor and fear where they are due, but ever looking for the kingdom of Christ.