When most of us think about teaching students Bible history and ancient history, we picture them in two different classrooms. For Bible, we see kids in a Sunday school class at church; for a course in ancient world history, we see them in a traditional classroom on a secular campus. Can you see them? It’s hard not to because most of us grew up with a great wall separating sacred and secular history. Today let’s talk about 5 reasons why you would benefit from combining bible history and ancient history.
It was a common experience that looked something like this: In the Sunday school classroom, there was probably a poster of Noah on the wall with dozens of paired-off animals leaving the ark under a beautiful rainbow. There was also a map on the wall of the “Divided Kingdoms of Israel” or “Jerusalem at the Time of Christ.” And, if it was a fun classroom, there was a costume of Esther for the girls to try on and a costume of Moses for the boys.
In the public school history class, that most of us attended, there was probably a colorful poster of King Tut’s golden funeral mask on the wall, which shows up almost everywhere in world history! Also on the wall was a set of maps that included the Battle of Marathon and Alexander the Great’s extensive empire. And, if it was a classroom for children, there was hopefully a costume of Cleopatra for the girls to try on and a Spartan helmet for the boys.
These are both good classrooms. But I propose that to make them better, we push these classrooms together to make one large learning center! Move the classrooms side by side; knock down the wall that divides them; and display all the posters, all the maps, and all the costumes in one place! For those that hold to the Bible as God’s inspired Word, Bible history and ancient world history should be one overlapping subject in one classroom—never to be divided. We could also call that having a Christian worldview of history, which is recognizing God’s hand in all history and interpreting it through a biblical lens.
Though this kind of integrated classroom will not exist in public institutions (for concern of the separation of church and state), it can be created in the privacy of your own homeschool and in Christian based co-ops. Imagine if you will, arranging Bible characters on the same timeline with historical figures from ancient times! Who would meet “face to face” on this one extraordinary timeline? Here are a few famous figures, with Bible characters listed first.
- Joshua (1451 BC) and King Tut (1333 BC)
- Daniel (604 BC) and Aesop (c. 600 BC)
- Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego (Mid-sixth century BC) and Buddha (c. 563 BC)
- Belshazzar (539 BC) and Confucius (547 BC)
- Ezra (467 BC) and Socrates (c. 469 BC)
- Malachi (c. 400 BC) and Plato (c. 427 BC)
- Herod the Great (37 BC) and Cleopatra (37 BC)
- Jesus Christ (c. 4 BC) and Augustus Caesar (27 BC)
Do you think Christian families would benefit from seeing Bible history and ancient history meet face to face in one classroom? I think so! Besides that it’s cool and interesting, I have five reasons to consider this approach to teaching.
First, I believe historical facts, especially as they overlap with Bible stories, help support the reliability and veracity of the scriptures. Take for example the names of the kings of Assyria, like Tiglath-Pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sargon. You can find their names in the Old Testament (or references to them) and in secular sources on the Internet, showing us that the Bible is full of verifiable information.
Second, I think the integration of sacred stories and secular stories helps strengthen our faith in the Bible because it is a great history book. Consider the genealogies contained in Genesis and Luke that give us lineages as far back as Adam. Only God would know the history that far back!
Third, I believe that seeing Bible history in the context of world events helps us see the sovereignty of God in the affairs of mankind. For example, though God allowed Judah to be taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC, we see 70 years later (as prophesied) that He returned the Jews to their homeland through Cyrus the Great of Persia. Yes, it was a king from Persia, which is modern-day Iran, who freed the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity. That was the work of God!
Fourth, I feel when we broaden our children’s education, as described here, we are being good stewards of our resources and the precious little time we have with our kids. As a retired homeschool mom, I’m happy to report that good stewardship of your time, your talent, and your teaching will reap years of reward! Though our homeschool days are behind us, I’m still seeing fruit from the seeds I sowed into the lives of my children when they were young. (Keep going, homeschool parents!)
And, fifth, I think seeing God’s hand in history inspires us to hold fast—with hope—to God’s ultimate plan for mankind and the grand story of redemption. Were it not for the promises of the prophets, the grace of the Gospel, and the hope of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord, it would be difficult to study world history at all! Thank God for the promise in Revelation 22:2-3, which, as a student of history, brings me tears of joy:
The leaves of the tree [of life] were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse . . . (Revelation 22:2-3. Brackets and bolding added for clarity and emphasis.)
In closing, I encourage you to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity you have at home to bring Bible history and ancient history into the same classroom—to meet face to face. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss!
For the Sake of the Mystery!
Linda Lacour Hobar
Psst! You might also enjoy my workshop When Bible History and Ancient History Meet Face to Face.