Church Education Trust

Church and the Bible

The Bible.

A Background to the Bible.

The Bible  is a text which introduces the reader to people who have been chosen by God for specific tasks, to places which have become special in the traditions not only of the Jewish nation but also to the church of Jesus Christ and to great world influencing and world changing events.

It is a book that begins with the Genesis creation story, the fall of humankind into sin and its effect on the world and nature and finishes its journey in Revelation with the restoration of the New Heavens and Earth. In between is an amazing story how through the unconditional love of god that retoration happened.


The Middle East.

The Old Testament Cultural Context.

All that the Bible has to say about a mutiplicity of special events carried out by God is seen enacted in a Middle Eastern context. That area of Divine involvement with humanity is known to day as by the names of many modern countries such as, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and Iraq.

In Biblical times much of the land mass owned by the countries recorded above would have been desert. Settlments of note in the Biblical stories would have been built and developed around some of the great rivers of the Ancient Near East. The Nile, the Euphurates, the Jordan and the Tigris were significant rivers playing roles in the history of the great Biblical events.

Even in the days of Abraham, Egypt was a flourshing and significant country. Historically the Bible story reminds us that Abraham moved his family and all his possessions from Mesopotamia to Canaan during the 2nd Millennium B.C. During that travelling period Abraham visited Egypt and had first hand experience of its development and splendour.

During Moses`s period that Israelites had settled in a region called Goshen which was in the Nile delta. It was there that they experienced the power and contol of Egypt. In many ways the Near Middle Eastern providence was under the sway of the Egyptian, Minoan, Sumerian and Chaldean civilisations forcenturies. It is not until the inter testimental period some 400 B.C. that Greece and Rome began to control this region.   

 Biblical Empires.

During the period of recording the events that are known as the Old Testament no less that six empires are refered to i.e.

  1. The Egyptian Empire where the Patriarchs settled and eventually under the leadership of Moses made their way to the promised land of Canaan from Egypt.
  2. In 722 B.C. the Assyrian Empire took the Jews from the Northern Kingdom of Israel and transported to Nineveh.
  3. In 586 B.C. the Babylonian Empire deported the Jews from the Southern kingdom of Israel to Babylon.
  4. In 539B.C. the Persian Empire overrun the Babylonian Empire and released the Jews to return to their beloved Canaan.
  5. In 330 B.C. The Greek Empire.
  6. Then finally the Roman Empire into which Christ was born.  

The people and nation of Israel find the events and history of their  existence so inter twinned in the history of these great empires that separation from the power of these empires almost impossible to unravel.


If any nation or people knew anything about travel Israel did. Their movements and distances of travelled were enormous. Roads or trails were determined by the landscape and the ability to obtain water. As water was scarce in desert areas it would be necessary to travel large distances to places that were closer if one could cross a desert but without the promise of water the longer route was the only option.

For example when Abraham wanted to travel to Canaan which was  due east of UR he had to make a detour to the North which added hundreds of miles to his journey simply because of the Aribian Desert to the east was impassible.

In Abraham`s period there were safe trade routes which would have linked major cities and allowed the traveller to follow the contours of the great rivers. (Nile, Euphrates and Tigris).It ws not until the times of the New testament that the Romans decided to build a maze of roads around and across the empire. In Roman times a total of 53000 miles of roads were in place. Those roads stretched West from Rome to Scotland and east to Egypt and connected every important place in between.


The land of Israel was 10000 square kilometers in size. It stretched between the Mediterranean sea in the West and the Arabian desert to the East. A land of coastal plains, mountain ranges, rift valleys through which the river Jordan flowed. It offered Wet and Dry seasons. In the Dry season the climate offered  a stable setting for growing grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, melons and an assortment of crops. 

Flocks  of sheep and goats would be moved from place to place so as to take advantage of any grass available for food. The Summer conditions would end some where around September each year, all harvesting would be complete as the nation contemplated the commencement of the rainy season. It is possible for rain to fall constantly for days, then a period of mild warm air and sunshine would be enjoyed by the inhabitants.

The rain would soften the sun backed land areas making possible the sowing of seed again in the spring. The Hebrew Language with only about 10000 words and yet every word has a significient meaning. It is interesting that there are a number of words in Hebrew for rain. (Matar, yoreh and malqosh.)



Jerusalm is the main city in the unfllding events of the Old and New Testaments, it is referred to some 800 times. Jerusalem was in many ways isolated from the trade routes. In fact it is situated in the hill country of Judea. Its positioning in the hills offorded it good military security, its most vunerable part was to the north of the city.

The city was blessed with sufficient water supplies to meet the needs of its people, the rainfall was more enough to realsie good crop returns each year. The Jerusalem of Bible times was built on two parallel ridges with the valley of Kidron and Hinnon offering good vision, security and a natural area for people to live.

In King David`s days he choose the city because of its strategic positioning in controlling the military advancesof neighbouring nations and secondly as a neutral venue for the tribes of Israel to find acceptable place for their king to live in. It is interesting that Jerusalem became the personal property of king David and the tribe of Judah and not as property owned by the other tribes. David`s dynasty would reign from this place and ultimately the Messiah would find it a place immense importance to the purposes of God and to his created order.

While Jerusalem would fall into the hands of other nations it would ultimately be returned to His chosen people. Jerusalem is a city of profound importance as we will see as the 800 biblical references will relate.

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©2008 Church Education Trust