One day, about the time I started kindergarten, I walked into the bathroom while my father was shaving and said, “Daddy, tell me a story.” He answered by saying, “I don’t know any stories, but I’ll tell you something that happened to somebody a long time ago.” Thus began an almost daily history lesson until I went off to college.
I could not have asked for a better teacher. My father’s undergraduate degree was in history. He also had a brilliant analytical mind, as one would expect of a person with two doctorial degrees. He felt, and I agree, that studying history is not about memorizing names and dates. Rather it is about answering two questions:
Why is this important?
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (519 BC – 430 B.C.) was born a Roman aristocrat. His long, successful political career ended when his son was executed for a crime he committed. Thereafter Cincinnatus was compelled to live the simple life of a small farmer.
In 458 B.C. Roman forces were defeated by the invading Aequi and Sabines forces. In a near panic the Roman Senate elected Cincinnatus dictator calling upon him to save Rome.
Cincinnatus assembled an army which he led to fight the invaders. He won—and saved Rome.
As dictator Cincinnatus was now in a position to enrich himself. As dictator he was also in a position to “settle old scores.” He did nothing of the kind. Sixteen days after Cincinnatus had been elected dictatorâ€”immediately after he had saved Rome from invasion—Cincinnatus resigned and returned to his farm.
George Washington, like other founding fathers, was heavily influenced by the example of Cincinnatus. After defeating the British, and gaining independence for his nation, Washington was given the opportunity to become king of the United States. Instead, like Cincinnatus, Washington resigned his position and returned to his farm.
When the nation was floundering under the Articles of Confederation, George Washington, following a visit by Benjamin Franklin, returned to public life. Their efforts resulted in the calling of the Continental Congress that wrote the constitution of the United States.
George Washington was elected the first president of the United States of America. He could have served the rest of life as president, but (again inspired by the example of Cincinnatus) after two terms Washington abandoned public life to return to his farm. The twenty-second amendment to the constitution insures that today presidents follow Washington’s example of serving no more than two terms.
Thus because of Cincinnatus’ example approximately 2,400 years ago today the president of the United States is limited to two terms of office.
My parents were also very religious people; they set an example for me that I wish I could replicate. From my youth onward I attended various Bible study classes and studied the scriptures at home with my family. (Again, I could not have had a better teacher. My father’s scriptural and theological knowledge is the equal of his historical knowledge.)
My degree is not in theology, archeology, history, Hebrew, Greek, or Latin. I am merely a student of the scriptures—and of history. These notes are a combination of notes from my personal study and handouts I prepared for various Biblical classes that I have been asked to teach.
I hope you will find my Bible study notes and commentary helpful.