Last week I took it upon myself to memorize world history from 10,000 B.C.* to current (as well as American history and Georgia history) in 5 days. Yes, I’m a little crazy. Well, maybe a lot crazy, especially considering everything else going on in my life right now.
During my week hiatus from posting on this blog – which, trust me, I would much rather have preferred to do – I stuffed my brain full of the historical account of humankind’s atrocities over the centuries, both created and endured. The realization of undeniable, inescapable human sin hit me like a ton of bricks whilst sipping my fourth cup of coffee around midnight in the middle of this cram session — which was for the sole purpose of finishing my degree as a secondary education social studies teacher.
I think my newly found awareness occurred somewhere around mile-marker 600 A.D., at which point I looked up from my flash cards and thought, “Good gracious. The history of humankind is literally written in blood.” I felt almost nauseous, and it was not on account of the diet of coffee and dark chocolate that had sustained me over the last few days. After all the rote memorization I had already completed, which was in large part outlined by conquests, invasions, battles and land expansion at the cost of whole civilizations, I realized I hadn’t even made it to the Middle Ages, the Crusades, the Bubonic Plague, the Salem Witch Trials, European Exploration, the American Revolution, Westward Expansion, the Trail of Tears, WWI, America’s Civil War, WWII, The Holocaust or 9/11, just to name a few.
I got up from my hiding place – how else was I going to cram this much information in a short amount of time with three children in the house? – and marched downstairs to inform Bill of my epiphany.
“God must be absolutely disgusted with us,” I blurted out, with no context. “I mean, it’s a wonder He hasn’t put an end to humankind already: wiped us right off the map just like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
I (and Bill) was previously aware of the various empires, dynasties and kingdoms throughout the ages who dominated the next for power, land acquisition and wealth, but lumping it all into my mind over the course of only a few days, human history marked from one death toll to the next, left me incredulous. Still shocked, and now fuming with disgust over the fact that we, as people, can’t seem to go 200 years without keeping the peace, I topped off my coffee cup and went back upstairs.
It was in high school that I first delved into the details of historical genocide, such as the millions of Jews murdered during the Holocaust. As absolutely atrocious as I thought those events were, I never gained a broader perspective of world-wide death over the course of thousands of years for the sake of “gain.” The Holocaust is just the very tip of the iceberg.
Still at the tip of the iceberg.
This infographic doesn’t provide a visual for all those who died during the prior and following wars, conquests and invasions:
- Egyptian Invasion of Asia 1479 bc
- Persia Empire Wars 546 – 539 bc
- Persian-Greek Wars 499 – 401 bc
- Peloponnesian Wars 460 – 404 bc
- Greek City-States Wars 395 – 362 bc
- Alexander & Macedonian Conquests 338 – 322 bc
- Hellenistic Monarchies, Wars of the 318 – 170 bc
- Punic War, First 264 – 241 bc
- Punic War, Second 219 – 202 bc
- Invasion of the Hsiung-nu 203 – 200 bc
- Third Macedonian War 168 bc
- Punic War, Third 149 – 146 bc
- Gallic Wars 58 – 52 bc
- First Triumvirate, Wars of the 53 – 45 bc
- Second Triumvirate, Wars of the 43 – 31 bc
- Roman Empire Wars 27 bc – 476 ad
- Byzantine Empire Wars 395 – 1453
- Muslim Conquests 624 – 982
- Charlemagne, Conquests of 773 – 796
- German States, Wars of the 891 – 1789
- Norman Conquest of England 1066
- Crusades 1096 – 1254
- English-French Wars 1194 – 1337
- Mongol Wars 1214 – 1402
- English Scottish Wars 1314
- Hundred Years War 1337 – 1453
- Venetian-Turkish Wars 1416 – 1573
- Wars of the Roses 1455 – 1487
- Spanish-Moslem Wars 1481 – 1492
- Spanish Conquest of Mexico 1519 – 1521
- Mogul-Afghan War 1526
- Spanish Conquest of Peru 1531 – 1533
- English Spanish Wars 1588
- Thirty Years’ War 1618 – 1648
- English Civil Wars 1642 – 1651
- Spanish-French Wars 1648 – 1659
- Jacobite Rebellions 1689 – 1745
- Great Northern War 1700 – 1721
- Spanish Succession, War of the 1701 – 1714
- French and Indian War 1754 – 1763
- Seven Years’ War 1756 – 1763
- American Revolution 1775 – 1783
- French Revolutionary Wars 1792 – 1802
- Napoleonic Wars 1803 – 1814
- Indian Wars in United States 1811 – 1887
- War of 1812 1812 – 1815
- Peruvian War of Independence 1824
- Texan War of Independence 1836
- Afghan-British War, First 1839 – 1842
- Mexican War 1846 – 1847
- American Civil War 1861 – 1865
- Seven Weeks’ War 1866
- Franco-Prussian War 1870 – 1871
- Afghan-British War, Second 1878 – 1880
- Zulu-British War 1879
- Sudan, War for the 1881 – 1899
- Spanish-American War 1898
- Boer War, Second 1899 – 1902
- Russo-Japanese War 1904 – 1905
- World War I 1914 – 1918
- Afghan-British War, Third 1919
- Turkish War of Independence 1919 – 1923
- World War II 1939 – 1945
- French Indochina War 1946 – 1954
- Arab-Israeli War 1948 – 1949
- Korean War 1950 – 1953
- Hungarian Uprising 1956
- Vietnam War 1965 – 1975
- Six-Day War 1967
- October War 1973
- Iran-Iraq War 1980 – 1988
- Persian Gulf War 1991
- Terrorism, War on 2001 –
I am horrified.
I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around the total number of people who have died because of political, territorial and economic conflicts; greed; corruption; vanity; threats to status, superiority or standards of living; encroachment on personal or national religious beliefs; or over means of obtaining or growing national wealth.
The leaders of each and every one of these tragic events in human history made the decision that the anticipated gain from conflict, such as resources, power, glory, territory, etc., outweighed the expected costs, which would have included loss of property and life.
How in the world does one come to that conclusion?
Second to my horror, but now first on my list of concerns, is God’s wrath. I imagine the stink of our sinful filth absolutely disgusts Him. He’s taken out whole civilizations before. I see no reason why He wouldn’t do it again. And, God is vengeful.
…leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
He’s probably also quite sad. There will come a day when God will have had enough of our slaughtering of one another, of our trampling on top of whomever we consider inferior, our strife over who will be the last one standing or the one with the privilege to plant a flag at the top of a hill. How silly and futile it all must seem to the eyes of the The Third Party; we’re just squirming and fidgeting like amoebas in a petri dish.
If only we’d put as much effort into the struggle towards eternity.
You have been wasting your time if you have been praying for world peace; it isn’t going to happen. We are far too sinful for that to ever be realized. God tells us point-blank that there will be no peace on Earth until Jesus returns. I knew this, but it’s hard for a person living in the suburbs of America in the 21st century to truly comprehend it. It wasn’t until I spent time studying the numerous, actual historical events that I realized just how factual this point in scripture is.
God also tells us that not only will there always be war, but war and everything that goes with it will just be the start: the “beginning of birth pains.” What’s more, there will be no mercy for Christians, the children of God. They too will be persecuted, hated and killed.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold… Matthew 24: 6-12
However, God does promise that those who keep their faith will be rewarded.
…but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24: 13-14
Make no mistake. This is no heaven on Earth. All around us is anger, fear, resentment, jealousy and insecurity, elements that lead to hostility and instability. I have moments of peace, found on my couch snuggled up with my family, but these moments are not secure. We live and die by the sin that surrounds and embodies each of us.
Change for all cannot happen on account of one person, but one person can change their account. Find your hope and inner peace in a new life, given over to your savior, Jesus Christ.
*For the record, I do not believe that the world is 10,000 years old. For more on this topic, please see Dr. Hovind’s lecture series.