Submitted by Dr. GP
” THE NECESSITY TO STUDY BACKGROUND HISTORY OF THE BIBLE & BIBLE LANDS
FOR A BETTER APPRECIATION OF THE BIBLE.”
Although the Bible does not claim to be a history book, even a serious superficial survey of the Scriptures show the Word of God is a book of history. The Bible contains the only sensible or sane story of the origin of man and the history of the first 2000 years of man’s existence, narratives of the history of Israel- the chosen people of God, and interesting accounts of the contiguous countries that interacted with them.
As a book of history, the Bible is unique in one particular aspect. It records PREDICTIVE HISTORY. This is perhaps the best definition of prophecy, since as prophecy unfolds history is created, and most remarkably, because once a thing has been said by God it is just as if it has already come to pass and become history. In this regard the future history of the world is reported in the Word of God. This statement though sounding at first like an oxymoron is most profound, and will be seen to be so as the days ( not years go by) as the events of the current civilizations clearly leads to the conclusion that mankind is preparing, even if unwittingly for the “ last days”- a time that is fast approaching.
The historical narratives of the Bible are not just something of the past, nor are the events to come just future myths that scoffers reject. The historical accounts of Bible narratives impacts daily on the lives of even the ungodly in all contemporary literate communities. People who are impatient are reminded to “ Be like Job”. The phrase to “ have a whale of a time” reflects a knowledge of the story of Jonah. Those who find things incredible are “ Doubting Thomases.” When you are facing a seemingly insurmountable difficulty, the advice is to recall that David slew the giant Goliath. In Sports and any circumstance, as is often the case in business events where “ a Goliath” has been tackled successfully by a smaller opponent are reported with flair and flavor. The fact that we don’t suffer fools gladly is an idiom copied from Paul.
Other favorite quotations from the Old Testament alone, which show that the historical narratives have impacted on the lives of secular society include phrases like “ Lesser lights ( Gen 1:16), “ The breath of Life ( Gen 2:7), “ Helpmate” ( Gen 2:18), “ Dust to Dust” ( Gen 3:17-19), Being your “ brother’s keeper” ( Gen 4:9-10), when we refer to those who sleep through boring sermons on Sunday mornings and otherwise as in “ The Land of Nod” ( Gen 4:15-16), “He is as old as Methuselah!” ( Gen 5:25-27) is a favorite in Barbados, as safe as the Ark ( Gen 6:13-16ff), “ Fire & Brimstone” ( Gen 19:24-26), to live of the “ fat of the land” ( Gen 45;17-18). “ A land of milk and honey”( Exodus 3:8), “ To harden your heart ( Ex 4:21), “ An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth Ex 21:23-25), a “ scapegoat” (Lev 16:5, 7-10) , “ Love thy neigbour” ( Lev 19:17-18), “ Jubilee” ( Lev 25:8-10), “ A thorn in the side” ( Num 33:50-52,55), “ Man does not live by bread alone” ( Deut 8:2-3), “ To heap [up] mischief” ( Deut 32:22-23), “ God save the King” ( 1 Sam: 10:24), “ One of these days” or “ One day”– very very popular in Barbados ( 1 Sam 27:1), “ To put words in one’s mouth” (2 Sam 14:1-3), “ A Jezebel” ( I Kings 16:30-31), “ To gird your loins” ( I Kings 18:45-46), “ The still small voice used often to refer to one’s conscience ( 1 Kings 19:11-12), “ To take root” ( 2 Kings 19:29-30), “ To Put your house in order” in preparation for death ( 2 Kings 20:1), “ The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away” ( Job 1:20-21 ), “ By the skin of your teeth” ( Job 19:18-21), “ The root of the matter” ( Job 19:28-29), “ A two edged sword” ( Prov 5-6), “Spare the rod and spoil the child (Prov 13:24), “ Pride goeth before a fall” ( Prov 16:18-19), “ Eat , drink and be merry for tomorrow you die,” and “ There is nothing new under the sun” ( Eccle 2:14; 3:13; 8:15; and 1:9), “ Theres a time for everything” ( Eccl 3:1-3), “ Two heads are better than one” is a corruption of “ Two are better than one” as given in Eccl 4 :8-11, “ A fly in the ointment” ( Eccl 10:1), “ Cast your bread upon the waters” ( Eccl 11:1-2), “ White as snow” ( Isaiah 1:18-20), “ A voice crying in the wilderness” ( Isa 40:1-3), “ A drop in the bucket” ( Isa 40:15-17), “ To see eye to eye” (Isa 50:7-8), “ A lamb to the slaughter” ( Isa 53:6-7), “ Holier than thou” ( Isa 65 : 2-3, 5), “ A leopard cant change its spots” ( Jer 13:22-23), “ Set your teeth on edge” ( Jer 31:27-30), “ Feet of clay” ( Daniel 2:31-33), “ The wrting’s on the wall”, and “ Weighed in the balance” ( Daniel 5:5-7).
This list has purposely been elongated to stress the fact that even though many profess not to take the Bible seriously, the historical narratives of the Scriptures have nevertheless so impacted on their minds, that even if subconsciously, it has so profound an effect, that they must utter these phrase from the Word in their daily lives. The universal impact of the historical Biblical narratives is so great that the Bible has consistently been, since first printed, the number one seller among books of all categories, and is quoted more than any other book. In addition it is the only book that thousands have read more than once. Not many other books- even best sellers-are read twice.
When we take these factors in to consideration, it is clear to see that there is a need to study the history of Bible lands and Bible times to both better appreciate the Bible, as well as to derive even greater pleasure therefrom as we are presented with information which brings out certain nuances not readily apparent in the common translations that we currently enjoy.
I have found that the best way to approach serious systematic study of the scriptures is to try to divide the Bible into sections, and arrange one’s thoughts around these divisions. One such useful classification which I found recently in The Visualized Bible is copied below. It is wise to use these division to compartmentalize one’s gleanings from each segments of the Bible, as we read it through. In this paper we will apply this idea to one of these divisions as we seek to demonstrate how study of parallel historical events advances our appreciation of the Bible as History and of the Bible as a whole.
Wilmington writes : “Most Bible students soon realize that many of the books in the Word of God, especially those found in the Old Testament, are grouped together by subject matter and therefore do not always appear in chronological order (that is, in the exact order in which the events they describe actually occurred). As an example, in the biblical listing, Nehemiah is the sixteenth book, but historically his book closes out the Old Testament. Another example is Esther (the seventeenth book), which is placed before Job (the eighteenth book), although the events in Job occurred well over a thousand years before the birth of Esther.
To fully grasp the message of each book in God’s Word, it is very important to know not only what the book is saying, but also when it was said! What has been attempted by this chronological and analytical scriptural outline is to present the hundreds of events described by the sixty-six books in their proper historical context. Each biblical book has been listed under one of twelve basic historical stages. The stages and the books they include are as follows:
1. THE CREATION STAGE
Genesis 1 -I I
11. THE PATRIARCHAL STAGE
Genesis 12-50,- Job
111. THE EXODUS STAGE
Exodus,- Leviticus,- Numbers,- Deuteronomy
IV. THE CONQUEST STAGE
V. THE JUDGES STAGE
Judges,- Ruth,- 1 Samuel 1-7
VI. THE UNITED KINGDOM STAGE
1 Samuel 8-311- 2 Samuel,- 1 Kings 1 -I 1 I- 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1-9; Psalms; Proverbs; Ecclesiastes; Song of Solomon
VII. THE CHAOTIC KINGDOM STAGE
1 Kings 12-22; 2 Kings; 2 Chronicles 10-36; Obadiah; Jonah; Joel; Amos; Hosea; Isaiah; Micah; Nahum; Zephaniah; Habakkuk; Jeremiah; Lamentations
VIII. THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY STAGE
IX. THE RETURN STAGE
Ezra,- Esther; Nehemiah Haggai,- Zechariah,- Malachi
X. THE GOSPEL STAGE
Matthew,- Mark,- Luke- John
XI. THE EARLY CHURCH STAGE
XII. THE EPISTLES STAGE
Romans through Revelation ” (1)
1- The Visualized Bible (KJV), Supplementary material by H.L Wilmington, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton Illinois –Notes at back of Bible.