The Glories of Bible Geography
January 27, 2022
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The study of geography is essential to a proper understanding of the Bible, because it is an historical book that describes events in the land of Israel and surrounding territory. The more the student knows about the geography pertaining to a Bible passage, the better he can understand the scene and the teaching.

Bible geography is divine revelation. The land of Israel is God’s classroom. It is the land that He chose for the outworking of His eternal plan. It is the land that He chose to be the land of the Bible. It is the land that He fashioned for this very purpose. It is for this reason that it is called “the pleasant land” (Da. 8:9), “the glorious land’ (Da. 11:16), “the glory of all lands” (Eze. 20:6). When God gave the land to Israel, it flowed with milk and honey (De. 27:3). It was a paradise, and it will be that even more in the future. “... he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD (Isa. 51:3). It is “a land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God
are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (De. 11:12). Israel is a small country, but it has every type of topography: mountains, hills, plains, forests, savannas, deserts, rich pasture land and barren salt flats, lakes, rivers, oceans.

Everywhere you look in Israel and the surrounding territories, there are lessons about God. Every mile has its lesson; sometimes every yard. The land’s very name,
Israel, means “power with God.” Moriah is where Abraham learned that God is Jehovahjireh, “Jehovah who will provide” (Ge. 22:14). Rephidim in Sinai is where Moses learned that God is Jehovahanissi, “Jehovah my banner” (Ex. 17:15). Ophrah is where Gideon learned that God is Jehovahshalom, “God is peace” (Jg. 6:24). Bethel is where Jacob had the vision of the ladder to heaven and named the place “the house of God” (Ge. 13:19). Shechem is where Jacob called God Elelohe-Israel, “the God of the House of God” (Ge. 33:19). Ramah is where Hannah named her son Samuel, “God has heard,” as a reminder that God answers prayer. Jerusalem is “the city of our God ... the city of the great King” (Ps. 48:1, 2). Oh, the infinite lessons of Jerusalem! Penuel is where Jacob wrestled with God and “saw God face to face” (Ge. 32:30). Mahanaim, “two troops,” is where Jacob learned that the angels of God camp with God’s people (Ge. 32:1-2). Consider the lessons of Sinai, Kadesh, Sodom, Marah, Rephidim, Sharon, Gilboa, Carmel, Jezreel, Megiddo, Kishon, Shunam, Harod, Endor, Tabor, Nazareth, Hazor, Hebron, Bethlehem, Beersheba, Shiloh, Nebo, Gilgal, Ai, Shechem, Ebal and Gerizim, Samaria, Elah, Gath, Gaza, Timnath, Ziklag, Lachish, Bethany, and literally a thousand more. Countless books have been written about the lessons God has taught us from the region of Galilee alone, and countless more will be written.

To benefit from Bible geography, the student has to ask questions such as where is the author? Where are the recipients? If the passage describes an event, where does it take place? “What was the terrain like? What topographic features made this region unique? What was the weather like? How far was this place from other places mentioned in this passage? What were the travel routes? What size was this town or city? What was the layout? What was the location known for?” (William Hendrick).

This requires a good knowledge of Bible geography and constant reference to maps. This information can be found in good commentaries, surveys, Bible encyclopedias, and Bible atlases.

We recommend the following three Bible atlases:
NEW MOODY ATLAS OF THE BIBLE, ROSE THEN AND NOW BIBLE MAP ATLAS (not to be confused with the much smaller Deluxe Then and Now Bible Maps), and the SATELLITE BIBLE ATLAS. We also recommend BIBLEATLAS.ORG, an online atlas that is easy to use and has many excellent features.

We recommend INTRODUCTION TO BIBLE GEOGRAPHY, This course is geared for beginning students and older ones. It covers Israel’s divinely-ordained location, an overview of the larger region as far west as the Strait of Gibraltar, the Fertile Crescent, Mesopotamia (Shinar), Egypt and the Nile, Israel’s mountains and rivers, the Negev, the Sea of Galilee and major sites pertaining to Jesus’ ministry, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Jericho, Dan, Beersheba, Bethel, the Philistine cities, Carmel, Sharon, Bashan, Gilead, Shiloh, Samaria, Ebal and Gerizim, Elah Valley (where David killed Goliath), Jerusalem, ancient highways, the division of the tribes, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Jezreel Valley (plain of Megiddo), its history and future. The course consists of a PowerPoint presentation and a PDF. The PowerPoint covers the same material as the PDF, but it includes videos and photos that aren’t in the PDF and is intended especially for classroom use, though it can be used with profit by individual students. The abbreviated PDF edition is for students to use in classrooms and for private study and easy reference. As the teacher goes through the PowerPoints, the students can have all of the major parts of the study before them in the PDF (using a smartphone or tablet, etc.) or in a printout of the PDF. The downloads of both files are provided as part of the package.

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