I have to admit to you that I was never that interested in history when I was a student. Not until I got to Auburn and had a wonderful history professor in my small class of 300 students explain history from a technological perspective (from the invention of the wheel to Henry Ford’s influence on the assembly line) did I come to appreciate what all the fuss was about.
Now that I have been reading the Bible better than I did as a college student, I often wish I could take a history course from a biblical history perspective. Even now, we readers of the Bible (some of us) struggle to grasp the time in which some of these events take place. I have a tendency to separate stuff that I read in the Bible from other world events that may never have made it into the divine Book.
Alas, I am a bit ignorant, but am trying to improve my historical, biblical perspective as I continue to live in my own someday history. That’s heavy…
Take Isaiah, for example. There’s a book in the Bible with his name on it. He had an important place in the history of the Jews and Gentiles who would receive and believe in Isaiah’s writings of the promised Messiah.
He lived and prophesied during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
Familiar with any of them? They were four of Judah’s kings during the period of the divided kingdom of Israel. Judah was the name of the Southern kingdom. It contained two tribes (Ben and Judah) and its capital, Jerusalem, housed the temple where Jews worshiped God through the sacrifices and offerings He had prescribed long before Isaiah was born. The other part of the divided kingdom was called Israel and it contained the remaining 10 tribes. Its capital was Samaria and one of its evil kings set up a false religion there to keep his people from traipsing to Jerusalem where the real temple was. Bad king. Bad king.
So, Isaiah was commissioned by God to give Judah some tough messages back in 735 BC. If I had a number line here, I’d show you where zero was located and remind you that 735 BC is like negative 735 on the number line. To the left! To the left!
If you haven’t clicked off today’s post by now, bless you my hopeful biblical historian!
Out of curiosity I wanted to know what else was going on in the world back in the days of Isaiah and here’s what I found out:
- In 735 BC, Rome was founded. In Isaiah’s lifetime, Rome began!
- Around this same time, Sparta and Athens in Greece were also founded.
I’m thinking field trip! I wish.
Other things were going on in the midst of tough times for a small nation called Judah. Yet, God called Isaiah to take note of this nation with its people, their problems, and the God they were forsaking.
It’s a book written so long ago.
It’s a book that is just as vital today.
Long after Isaiah lived, spoke/wrote, and died, another useful one for God would arrive and pen these words to remind us all of the need to look at God’s history with the right frame of mind:
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
– said by Paul in Romans 15:4 (ESV)
That kind of gives me a fresh perspective on the importance of reading all of Scripture. What about you?