Eric and I have talked about it and it seems studying and reading history does have merit. In the Bible, there is an ever-present looking back at what God has done, for His glory. It points to His love for His people and His rescue of them, for His name sake. What God has done throughout the Old Testament gives context for what is in the New Testament. Though we don't look back on history quite the same way as the Israelites would have there is a definite need to look back and see the hand of God on history, on the rise and fall of kingdoms and rulers. It gives context to the world we live in now and the forces of change we experience. It should be a guide to keep us from going down the same wrong roads individually and as a nation and world.
Here's a quote I came across just today in a very odd place - quoted in a Christian homeschooling book. It is in a chapter about how to teach history and it's importance! I thought it was very fitting for what I've been pondering.
If we look familiarly into the daily life of our fellow-men thousands of years ago, it is to find them toiling at the same problems which perplex us; suffering the same conflict of passion and principle; failing, it may be, for our warning, or winning for our encouragement; in any case, reaching results which ought to prevent our repeating their mistakes. The national questions which fill our newspapers were discussed long ago in the Grove, the Agora, and the Forum... and no man whose vote...may sway in ever so small a degree the destinies of our Republic, can afford to be ignorant of what has already been so wisely and fully accomplished. Present tasks can only be clearly seen and worthily performed in light of long experience; and that liberal acquaintance with history which, under a monarchical government, might safely be left as an ornament and privilege of the few, is here (in the US) the duty of the many. Preface to Thalmeier's Ancient History
We are citizens of the nations in which we were born or reside, by God's design. We should be good citizens and good stewards of the responsibility we are given to be good citizens, especially in our own country (the US) where its existence stands on the informed vote of its citizens. And much of that hinges on knowing the history, the "long experience" of our nation and of the thousands of years past. "No man... can afford to be ignorant of what has already been so wisely and fully accomplished."
And when the government in which we participate fails morally on an issue, we can be used of God as a light to bring about change, by being well-informed of the past which sheds light on the present wrong. For instance, William Wilberforce, a man who passionately loved the Lord, fought a hard battle to eventually end the long history of the slave trade in the British Empire.
Most importantly, history points directly at our very definite need for a Savior. Man has tried through the ages, through all kinds of changing philosophies to make his own way and always it is a failure. Even in the US, though our nation has been a great one, and it's founding causes and virtues are noble and good and somewhat founded on the basis of God's law, it was/is still an effort by man to make life better through man's invention. Our satisfaction and hope does not lie in our national freedom and individual political liberty. It comes from freedom in Christ. As followers of Christ, we are free from the burden, not of an empirical monarch, but from our own heavy, tyrannical sin. He has fought the hard battle for us and won, once and for all. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, with Christ and His bride the church.