The purpose of this timeline is to show that the story of the Bible is a real story. Not a feel-good story or religious fantasy, but a reliable story. It is nothing less than the story of our lives.
World history proceeds from A to B. There are many beautiful and important things to tell both about A and B and about everything in between. Nevertheless, there are developments and events that stand out. They have had a special impact on the course of things. What are the main landmarks? In books, films, documentaries and museums, choices are made about what is put in the spotlight: these are the most important developments, these people set the tone and then it all happened. However, the Bible gives a different cross-section on many points. There are other events, people and tipping points that deserve attention. They provide us with the framework to think about our world. On the timeline you will find the events that are decisive from a Biblical perspective. Travel thru the timeline, click on each of the tiles and discover what world history looks like through the lens of the Bible.
If history goes from A to B, there must have been an A. That in itself is very special. The universe and the history we live in has a beginning. Because this is difficult to imagine, many traditions assume that the world is eternal. But that idea is completely foreign to the Bible. Remarkably enough, modern science has again concluded that it all started somewhere. Aside from the explanations and times usually associated with it, it is consistent with the Bible: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
Once you know that there has been a beginning, the question arises as to what was there before. The answer the Bible gives to this is that there was no 'what', but a 'who'. Only God Himself is eternal.
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:2).
God's personal name in Bible, therefore, is Yahweh , meaning He who is. We cannot imagine that anything or anyone exists eternally and infinitely. Our mind functions with material it has at hand, and it can bring order within this material, but it has no absolute hold on those things. Our mind therefore starts to squeak and creak as soon as we think about infinity. For where does God Himself come from? You can sing and talk about it, but it is impossible to fully understand it.
Yet God's eternal existence is not illogical. If you ask what was at the very beginning, you could give an answer. But the question will always arise as to what was before that beginning. To think that something comes from nothing at all is contrary to logic. So, you can go on endlessly, looking for an ultimate beginning. In fact, the only meaningful conclusion is that there must be an infinite beginning. Understanding that there is Someone who has always existed is beyond our grasp, but it is not illogical.
Atheist cannot explain this secret code in Creation – Dr. Jason Lisle
Chapter 3 | The design of our mind
§ 3.1 A beautiful instrument
§ 3.4 The detour of a reflective process
God made a decision before the beginning of our world history. It’s the most important decision ever made. To understand it, we zoom in on an event that preceded creation.
Before God made humans, He created other beings: angels. Angels have different qualities than humans. For example, Jesus says that angels, unlike humans, cannot reproduce (Mark 12:25, marriage and sexual intercourse are inseparable in the eyes of God). There are also similarities. Angels are intelligent and can communicate. They are always located in certain places and are in their element when they serve. Like humans, angels are not immortal in themselves. Angels play an important role in the Bible, both positively and negatively. But before our time began, something happened. There has been a spiritual rebellion in the heavenly places.
We get more information about this in a few parts of the Bible. Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 write about the princes of Tire and Babylon. But over their heads there is reference to the spiritual power working through these kingdoms. For example, Isaiah says,
“How you are fallen from heaven, o Lucifer, son of the morning!” (Isaiah 14:12).
"You were the anointed cherub who covers;" (Ezekiel 28:14).
Behind the ancient powers of Babylon and Tire lurks another reality. We are dealing, as Paul would later say, not primarily with human interests, but with a spiritual battle. So, he advises the Christians in Ephesus:
“Put on the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
Isaiah and Ezekiel describe the fall of a great angel, known in history as Lucifer, because of the term "morning star" (in Isaiah). He becomes Satan, the adversary of God. Part of the angels joined in this rebellion and degenerated into what we now call demons (Jude 6). The book of Revelation describes a battle between the angels who remained faithful to God against the fallen angels (Revelation 12:7 onwards). So, there has been a spiritual battle and it is still going on.
The existence of these spiritual powers according to most Western people is imagination of the past. In (medieval) art the devil is often depicted in a somewhat ridiculous way, so that many people refer his existence to the realm of fairy tales. Yet throughout history there have been many experiences with supernatural forces and powers. Also, in the western world more and more people are involved in the occult world. The existence of spiritual powers is not a fairy tale. The devil and his anti-divine team are a reality and they have been impacting our lives since the beginning.
The existence of such a spiritual battle raises a difficult question. It is the question of the origin of evil. If only God is eternal and He is perfectly good, how could evil and injustice ever come into the world? Isaiah and Ezekiel give us directions.
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor” says Ezekiel (28:17).
The devil is described as a very intelligent and beautiful creature. God made only good things. Yet it is said of this angel that one day ‘iniquity was found in you’ (Ezekiel 28:15). Isaiah explains what that iniquity was:
“For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Isaiah 14:12-15).
The essence, the source of iniquity was the choice to withdrew from to the Most High and to ascribe to oneself the good that God had made. Lucifer questioned God's good intention and wanted to be equal to God himself. So, God did not create evil, on the contrary, but He did create beautiful and free creatures, allowing the possibility that evil would come into existence in this way. Pride is the source of all evil.
By the way, the fact that the devil was (and is) so talented explains his influence. Over time, he has "helped" numerous people to produce beautiful music, films, military strategies, books, philosophical systems, art and financial success. But it always has an underlying, pernicious purpose. What is beautiful can still be morally objectionable. The real question is, how do you use the good that God has given you? If it for your own glory, or out of love towards God and your fellow people?
This brings us to the start of world history. Creation was all right, but apparently a spiritual battle had already started in the background. In the Garden of Eden there was a symbolic tree associated with that story. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The devil comes to disturb the peace. He does exactly what he himself did before: to question God's intentions and tempt man to become like God himself. Through the choice of our earliest ancestors to go along with this, these evil forces got a foothold in our history. We follow this line through [a spiritual battle behind the scenes] and onwards. Pride also settled in our own human hearts. The rift between God and man would have profound consequences.
Photo by Marisa Ranieri Panetta.
Should God have started it all? Should He have started world history if He knew things could go wrong? After all, there had already been a spiritual revolt in the heavenly places. Amid the good creation stood a tree that implicitly referred to that evil. In the fact that God has proceeded, we see the depth of His love.
God's ultimate purpose is to share His goodness and love in an everlasting covenant of love. Therefore, He created free beings, both angels and humans. Without freedom there is no love. And yes, this created the unheard-of possibility that evil, and injustice could arise. God Himself only makes very good things, but His free creatures would have the ability to withdraw from Him and begin to ascribe all the good to themselves. God was willing to take that consequence. This was the high price to be able to realize the covenant of love. God knew that before He even started.
Given these parameters He already made a decision before the start of world history. It is the most important decision there has ever been. The Father, the Son and the Spirit decided together that They would be willing to take upon themselves the debt and guild of humanity, to guarantee the wonderful project They wanted to start.
The fate of the fallen angels, who were already in God's presence, was sealed. They had chosen explicitly and definitively against God. But humanity got the perspective of a whole new start. Immediately after the fall of Adam and Eve, God laid out the promise and His plan (Genesis 3:15). Right through that great history which followed, God would definitively neutralize any possible doubt about His intentions, by serving humanity Himself, robbing the lie of its power once and for all. In this way God has laid the foundation for the eternal, sure, and perfect covenant of love. Read more about it in [the risk of love].