History is not cyclical, history has a point

Often times, without even thinking about it, people say things like “History is cyclical,” meaning that history moves in circles and things are also repeating and recycling.

It sounds plausible. I’ve repeatedly said that at the age of 30 your old high school clothes in the back of your closet become cool again.

Where does Christianity stand on this issue? Does it speak to the development of history? Yes, and it speaks quite clearly that history is not spinning in a circle. History is linear and it has a point.

Photo from Sxc.hu by Leo Cummings

The book of Genesis is a bit of a wild ride. Obviously, most people immediately think of the creation story in connection with the first book of the Bible. This shows us the beginning point of history. We find that history had a definite beginning. Even here, near the introduction of the human race and our history, we find allusions to the reason behind it all.

The other stories of Genesis continue to narrow the focus for the reader. After creation, humanity began to “be fruitful and multiply.” Because of the prevalence of sin, there was a kind of restart with Noah and his family. Then again, humanity began to increase and spread out across the globe (with a little help from God at the Tower of Babel).

But, as if it were a funnel, Genesis flows the reader down to one man in the midst of all of humanity. Abram was chosen by God to be the father of a great nation. His faith in Yahweh was credited to him as righteousness. Still, God’s not done yet.

We go just a few generations from Abraham (after a name change) and arrive at Jacob (or Israel after his name change) and his twelve sons. Is history going to branch off into twelve distinct and equally important stories at this point? Actually, no. It all draws down to one of his sons, Judah. But beyond Judah, there is One of his descendants who will be the focal point of all history.

The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his. Genesis 49:10

There is one who “shall come.” He is the culmination of everything. He is the point of history.

Galatian tells us that Jesus came in the “fullness of time.” All of history was waiting for this moment – the incarnation.

Since Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, history has continued on from this point in a straight line to its final point – the return of Christ.

History is not cyclical. It has advanced since creation until the time Jesus arrived. Since His first coming, history has continued on and will continue on until the culmination of everything. History will follow its line until Jesus comes again and has “the obedience of the nations.”

History has a point. His name is Jesus.


  1. I agree with your point about history having a point. 🙂 but I would say it is cycling toward that point like water circling a drain rather than a straight line. I think about the book of Judges and the cycle of sin, suffering, supplication, salvation…and then inevitably back into ever increasing sin. This is the same pattern we see throughout history and that Jesus says will continue until his return. The purpose for this cycle I think is that God is continually offering an opportunity to those who will follow Him to escape the vortex of sin by the power of Jesus Christ.

  2. Very true. I don’t mean to say that there are absolutely no cycles in history, but rather those cycles move in a direction. Christianity does not teach that history is cyclical like other religions that say everything is one big circle. My comment is more focused on the larger direction – forward, always forward, toward Christ. All of history is rushing toward the moment of Christ’s return. There is no cycle that prevents or deters that.

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Aaron Earls

Christian. Husband. Daddy. Writer. Online editor for Facts & Trends Magazine. Fan of quick wits, magical wardrobes, brave hobbits, time traveling police boxes & Blue Devils.