History is a very good and worthy subject to study and appreciate. We can learn many things and start to understand our own era from its similarities and differences. Yet many would say there are apparently two types of history: providential and secular history. But is that true: are there two types of history, or is it all one? God is the one who created history, he is the one who rules it, and history takes place according to His sovereign plan. There are no two different types of history – all of history is providential history, with believing and unbelieving nations and people each having their own part in it, all to the glory and praise of God who rules the universe.
History, by definition, is “the branch of knowledge dealing with past events,” and “the record of past events and times, especially in connection with the human race.” When we study history, we should be amazed at the complexity of events that take place, and how they are all related to each other in some way. All events in the course of history focus around one central point: the life and death of Jesus Christ. From the Garden of Eden to the Exodus from Egypt, from the exile in Assyria to the Roman occupation, all of that History looks forward to Christ. And then on from there, from Paul the Apostle’s missionary journeys to the spread of the early Church, and from the Reformation to the Revolutions, all of this History looks back to Christ.
Some might say that all of the above events are religious – and they are correct. But they would be wrong if they tried to explain that so called ‘secular history’ is not religious. Secularism is a religion: the religion of secular humanism. The definition of religion is that it is “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.” All people are religious, whether they acknowledge it or not, and just because they don’t believe in a God does not mean that people are not religious. Therefore, since all people are religious, those who study history will study it according to their “set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe.”
But what is the meaning of history? We, in our innermost being, know that there must be some reason, and a good reason, for history. Those who wrote history in earlier days knew the answer. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all wrote about the One who is the meaning of history. In their books they point out that God controls all of history, and nowhere is this more manifest then in the wonderful plan of salvation He has given us through his Son. Sinclair Ferguson writes about how Christ is the meaning of History in the book, These Last Days:
“Of course, though we may find out many things in this world, if we leave out Jesus Christ, we will ultimately be left in a state of frustration because we lack the world’s unifying principle… …Jesus Christ is the meaning of the cosmos, and Jesus Christ is the meaning of History.”
Now we can start to see that there are actually not two different types of history: providential and secular history. Those who say that are looking through different glass than we are. We know that God has written history according to his plan. All of history is under his lordship and his rule. All history is providential in that God ordains it all – including the so-called ‘secular’ side.
History is not an old and dusty study which only regards ancient kings. True history is a glorious adventure to understand the way God works throughout time, and to explore times and places we can never actually get to. And as the hymn says, “God moves in a mysterious way – His wonders to perform.” That mysterious way is those parts of history we cannot at this time fathom, but we know that in it all God will perform his works. God created us for His glory, to live in this world according to His providential plan for history.
Written by William A Moore
 Dictionary.com, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/history?s=t, © 2013
 Sinclair Ferguson, These Last Days, (P&R Publishing, 2011), Page 8.
 William Cowper, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, 1774, http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/g/m/gmovesmw.htm.