Edmund Burke, an eighteenth century British statesman and one who is viewed as the philosophical founder of modern political conservatism, once wrote words that have found their way into the conscious of many. He stated that, "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.” In the same vein of thought, he wrote in the political pamphlet, Reflections on the Revolution in France, ″A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.″
The perspective expressed in Burke’s statement does not find its beginning with the man, for this concept can be seen long before him. Early in the book of Joshua an event is described. God had brought the Israelites to the edge of the Promise Land. As the nation was encamped on the banks of an overflowing Jordan River, God gave the nation a directive. At the direction of Joshua, the priests bearing the ark came to the edge of the water. As they stepped forward, the waters parted allowing the priest and the people to cross over on dry land. After crossing, the Lord instructed Joshua to have a representative from each tribe to choose a stone from the river and with them a monument was built. These stones were to be a memorial and a reminder to future generations that the people of Israel crossed the Jordan because of God and not because of their own ability.
As believers in Christ, Christians should look ahead with great expectancy. Yet, the hope of future success will be built, to a degree, on the triumphs of the past. Let each one look to the movement of God in the past… let us remember how he has moved in our individual lives… and let us look expectantly to what is to tome. As churches, let us each understand the past and allow it spur us forward. Let us not live in the past nor look to return to the “good old days.” On the other hand let us not try to change everything, looking only to the future. Both views cause us to take our view off of God and look to a fantasy of our own creation. Let each one of us and each body of believers look to the truth found in Joshua that the hope of the future… the hope of the past… and the hope of the present is found only in God!