Eerdmans' Handbook to the Bible 1

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible , revised edition, 1984 pp. 10-15

Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, revised edition, 1984 pp. 10-15

While working for a Christian book store for six years, I sold this volume—it’s an attractive pictorial guide, covering topics from physical landforms to societal customs, from ancient religions to Bible translation, from histories of peoples to the flora and fauna of Israel and surrounding lands,  from special introductions of Bible books (survey form) to topical entries of themes and chronology. With the indices in the back you’re looking at 680 pages.

I open a book like this because I want to challenge myself to keep digging. To the shovel and gloves, I turn.

Pages 10-14 start us thinking about the physical environment of the world of the Mediterranean theater.

The Eerdmans’ volume draws our attention to the Lord of Heaven and earth and his governing care of the creation: “…the Hebrews had no word for nature other than the idea of the activity of God himself. It was God who spoke in the thunderstorm. He blessed the rainfall; he cursed in the drought. God breathed in the wind as he judged in the earthquake and manifested his glory in the heavens.  The Hebrew faith which saw God working in the activity and mysteries of nature understood that he was also above and beyond it. God was not limited by the environment, as the pagan Syrians thought. “p. 14

"The Window Dry fall", overlooking Ein Gedi and the  Dead Sea , Israel. (Wikipedia)

"The Window Dry fall", overlooking Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea, Israel. (Wikipedia)

Jeremiah the prophet uttered,

“Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things” (Jer. 14:22).

Many of us as Christians rightly give focus to God’s governing Lordship, but can limit that focus to the church. And what happens then? We give ground to Satan and unbelievers with respect to teaching and learning when covering the subject areas of history, geography, weather, and physical landforms. 

The Lord of creation, the God of Israel, teaches us that he is our personal God, who directly spoke to bring into existence all things by the word of his mouth. Superstition, which thoroughly saturated the peoples of Egypt to the south and Assyria to the north, teaches all things came into existence through impersonal means, through things like: chance, fate, time, the ploys of the gods of nature, and their striving and catastrophic events.

God, the personal, infinite Creator.

Superstition, the impersonal flow of chance, time, and fate.

Whom will you serve?

David falls, Ein Gedi. (Wikipedia)

David falls, Ein Gedi. (Wikipedia)

The Lord of creation and his activity of creating all things in the space of six days by his word is not on par with superstition and evolution. God and superstition are not on equal footing. Seeing both of these approaches as equally valid approaches to learning and life brings about dreadful results. The Bible opens, “In the beginning God…” It does not open with “In the beginning…” Hard stop. No, instead, we have “In the beginning God.” God is the One who creates. God is the One who governs.  

We take our cue from the Bible in our study of the earth and its landforms, and in our approach to its geography and weather.