Let’s pretend that I am a travel agent. You want to travel to 66 cities in Europe and have come to get my help. My job is to plan and organize your trip in such a pleasurable way that you will want to make return visits.
The first thing I will do is to familiarize you with a map of the region, teaching you how to read it, so that you can readily locate any place you wish to visit. For example, to find the city of Corinth and locate the 42nd house on 17th street, you would go to the modern district of the map and look for Corinth 17:42.
I’ll explain how the region is divided up into two distinct districts. A historical district composed of 39 cities; whose residents speak ancient Hebrew and ancient Aramaic. And, a modern district, composed of 27 cities, where Koene Greek is spoken. Since these languages are not used any other place in the world, I will give you the names of some reliable translators that will help you communicate effectively while you’re there. I will also give you a few other resources to help you understand the local culture.
Now take these concepts and apply them to your Bible. The 66 cities of this example are the books of the bible. There are 39 books in the Old Testament, 27 books in the New Testament. The historical district in this example is the Old Testament. The modern district is the New Testament. The cities are the books of the bible, streets are chapters, and houses are verses.
Traveling through the pages of the Christian bible is a lot like visiting a foreign country. It’s easy to get lost when we have limited knowledge regarding the language and customs of the people we are visiting. There are cultural, geographical and historical differences between ancient and modern man that have created an understanding gap that must be bridged in order to fully understand what God wants us to know.
Bridging those differences means getting acquainted with what people wore and ate; how they made their living; how they traveled; what animals and plants lived in the area; how they expressed themselves through art; what religious significance certain objects had for them; how they related to one another socially; whether they were an agricultural or industrial society; the geography and climate of their area, and their political structure. All of these areas impacted their perspective on the world and God.
In order to fully enjoy your visits through biblical times, you have to understand what you are reading. The original books of the bible were written in languages that are not commonly spoken in the world today. Therefore, a means of understanding vocabulary, grammar, figures of speech, and literary style becomes necessary.
No serious Bible traveler would ever go on a trip through time without his ‘translators’:
1. A concordance lists every Bible reference for any word, character, place, or topic mentioned.
2. A Bible dictionary and a Lexicon explain the original meanings of the Hebrew or Aramaic words in the Old Testament and of the Greek words in the New Testament, which were translated into English.
3. An archeology of the Bible lands, Bible atlas, and a Handbook to the Bible describe ancient customs, geography and the history of the Bible.
Whenever reading a chapter or a verse, ask yourself questions like these: To whom is God speaking? Who or what is He talking about? What is the key message? What does the verse teach about Jes us? Does the verse expose personal sin that I need to acknowledge and abandon? Does it contain a command for me to obey? Does it give a promise I could claim? Write down your findings in a journal or notebook. Write down and carry verses that speak to you— memorize them. You will be surprised how they will come to mind when you need them the most.
God has gone to great lengths to communicate His will to us in the bible. Your efforts to seek His will in your life should not be frustrated because you are confused, or bored to tears. If the wording of your bible causes you to lose interest within the first five minutes, then get one that makes sense to you. There are modern translations of the Bible that will appeal to even the least scholarly among us. Choosing a Bible that is easy for you to read stirs up the desire to make many return visits into scripture; which is vital to your spiritual survival.
Believe God’s promises and begin to obey and apply His commands. Learn to open the door to God’s truth so that His Living Word can begin to revitalize your mind and enliven your spirit. Christ himself told us that everyone who puts His words into practice is like a wise man who builds his house on the rock. Matt 7:24
You will need strong faith to withstand the many pressures you will face in this life. Remember, this—faith is as strong as the foundation on which it is built.