While the usual means of overland travel in the biblical world were walking or riding a donkey, horse, or camel, today we live in an age where getting around obstacles, traveling across great distances, and finding something to drink no longer prove a challenge. Our transportation system requires little more than a basic understanding of road signs and airline gates!
Teaching the Bible begins with studying and understanding the Bible. And within this discipline, evangelicals strongly believe in interpreting a passage in its context—a discipline that also includes its historical and geographical context. (Sometimes we forget that.)
Ministering in an age of images and sound-bytes, we often find ourselves following a marketing approach to the Great Commission. With an emphasis on communication over content—on methods over message—the church can succumb to expediency and miss many essentials needed for proper understanding and teaching of the Bible. Making disciples includes not only creatively introducing people to Jesus Christ, but teaching them all of God’s Word and obedience to it.
I have found that biblical geography provides a wonderful contribution to our understanding of Scripture. The more someone understands the land of the Bible, the more one understands the Bible itself. Its message is enabled to have a more profound impact on one’s spiritual life and ministry. It helps the passage come alive to a reader in a way he or she can see, feel, hear, and thus, more properly understand and apply. An even greater benefit can occur when one uses his or her understanding of historical geography to experience the land of the Bible first-hand through a trip to Israel. I have seen this proven true many times.
Some years ago I did an extensive study of the benefits of understanding and experiencing biblical geography. I discovered some startling results:
- 98% of survey respondents noted that historical geography helps their memory of biblical events and applications.
- 87% agreed that the study better directs them toward biblical application.
- 96% have increased in their love for God and the Bible through the study of geography.
- 99% agree that experiencing the land of Israel has strengthened their spiritual life.
If you’re interested, you can read my complete study.
Need a quicker read? You can learn more about Bible lands study here, particularly on traveling to Israel, getting started with Bible lands study, and some recommended resources on Bible lands.