We don’t talk about it much, but the culture in which your students live is radically different from that of the culture in the Bible. We have learned many things over the years about what life was like in the times and places in which the Bible was written. We often forget our students may not have been exposed to the same information we have. Helping your students understand the culture of the Bible will help make a lot of the lessons in it more understandable for them.
Here are some of the categories you will want to make sure your students understand:
- Technology – Forget computers. Those Bible people didn’t have electricity or cars! Understanding the concept of those clay oil lamps is pretty crucial to understanding quite a few scriptures – including a very important parable. Don’t understand walking everywhere in sandals? All those mentions of foot washing make no sense at all.
- Food and agriculture – Many children are no longer exposed to growing things, especially food. So many things in the Bible revolve around foods and growing things. Helping your students understand pruning grape vines or what unleavened bread looks and tastes like can change how they view quite a bit of the Bible.
- Clothing and making clothing – The Bible often refers to pieces of clothing which don’t exist in our society. Who knows what it means when the Bible talks about someone’s tunic, unless your students understand what that was to those people. The stories of Lydia and Tabitha make more sense when your students understand how involved the process of making clothes was during those times.
- Animals and shepherding – This one is huge. Shepherds and sheep are totally foreign to children whose only exposure may be sheep in a petting zoo. Yet understanding shepherding is crucial to understanding Jesus. If you are going to spend money on your program, bringing in sheep and a “shepherd” who understands and can explain shepherding is worth every penny.
- Egyptians, Greeks and Romans – This bit has a double advantage. Much of the Bible and its cultures were influenced by these three cultures. Not only will understanding these cultures and how the Bible went embraced or against them can clarify the Bible, but also your children will begin to connect the Bible to history – not fiction.
- Housing, the Tabernacle, synagogues and the Temple – Buildings in the Bible are very different from the buildings in much of the developed world today. It is almost impossible to visualize the Tabernacle and Temple based on the words in the Bible – those items just aren’t in the world of your students. Showing re-creations can help your students understand better the stories involving these buildings and items.
Taking a little extra time and effort to help your students understand the culture of the Bible can greatly increase their understanding of much of the Bible. It can make a huge difference in the faith walk of your students.