But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Revelation 21:8
You may have seen it yourself. It’s the World History Revisions said to have been put together by Richard Lederer, a teacher at St. Paul’s school. Here are a few choice excerpts that his students are said to have written. “Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Jacob, son of Isaac, stole his brother’s birthmark... The inhabitants of Egypt were called mummies. They traveled by Camelot. Moses led the slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients... In the Renaissance, Martin Luther was nailed to the church door at Wittenberg for selling papal indulgences. He died a horrible death, being excommunicated by a bull.”
Then for modern history rewritten, think about these: “Gravity was invented by Isaac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in autumn, when the apples are falling off the trees.
“Bach and Handel were famous composers. Handel was half German, half Italian and half English. He was very large. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Beethoven was so deaf that he wrote loud music. He expired in 1827 and later died from this.” And so forth.
History rewritten. A more sober type is when individuals with purpose and intent decide to rewrite the sordid records of the past. In spite of the fact that Hitler sent 6 million Jews to their deaths in the infamous concentration camps of Europe, along with 8 million gentiles, some people yet strive to deny the holocaust or to minimize its hideous reality. Nothing is more chilling, more sobering than to visit Yad Vasham in Jerusalem that vividly chronicles what took place.
For years the history books in Japan were completely silent about Japan’s invasion of China, which eventually led to World War 2. I’m also thinking of a contemporary comedian who wanted to include a very funny story in his autobiography. The only problem, however, is that he was not the person involved in the story, which was, in fact, about another comedian; so he gave the other person a sum of money and told the incident in the first person as though it had really happened to him. I guess you would say that’s buying a small chunk of history.
Twisting the truth, or fabricating it, isn’t new at all. For centuries, men and women have tried to rewrite the record, making themselves appear to be bolder, more courageous, more important than they really are. I’m thinking of the annals of old King Sennacherib, whose army was trounced when the force came against the Angel of the Lord and 185,000 died overnight. He omits that encounter when Assyrian historians wrote their chronicles. He does, however, leave us a relief on the wall of his palace showing himself as the great conqueror.
On a personal note, have you ever tried to rewrite the history book of your life? Perhaps you do it by what you tell your wife, or don’t tell her. What you include on your expense account which makes your check fatter. Perhaps you rewrite history when it is time to pay taxes and you would prefer that the government didn’t know about those cash transactions.
What’s wrong with rewriting history? Everybody does it. The same thing that’s wrong with a doctor’s cheating in med school, or a husband’s lying to his wife, or yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater because you want a better seat. When God says, “Enough!” and you stand in His presence as the books are opened, the record will be straight, unadulterated, and exactly as things are. When people try to rewrite history, they are kidding themselves. As Jesus put it, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). It’s still true.
Resource reading: Revelation 20:11-15