The one unfortunate thing about how the books of the Bible are ordered is that the chronology gets very confusing. You read a story about King David and then a couple of books later you get a similar story. The prophets are even more confusing, as they are all lumped at the end. It makes it very difficult to figure out where they all fit into the previous narrative books. Although not quite as confusing, the New Testament has some of the same issues with stories being repeated and trying to figure out where the epistles fit into the history written in the book of Acts.
Chronological Bibles help, but what happens when you try to connect the rest of World History to what is happening in the Bible? Honestly, I think most Bible teachers and parents don’t even try. I can’t say I blame them. Who has the time to sort it all out and then try and teach it?
The problem is that part of helping children grow their faith is helping them understand that the Bible is in part, a book of history. The events, wars, countries and empires really existed. In fact, many of the facts in the Bible, your children will study in a different format in their school history classes. What better reinforcement than having your children walk into history class already understanding major world events and empires?
So how do you begin to help your children understand how everything that has happened in the past fits together? The easiest way to teach the subject is by using a timeline that incorporates Bible and World history. (Note: some of the earliest dates are best guesses on both sides.) You can purchase ones that are pre-made from various Christian sources or try making your own.
I took a roll of the short roll paper you can purchase relatively cheaply at craft stores. At the top I placed historical events taught in secular classes and at the bottom events and people in the Bible. Often the two coincided, especially from the Kings through the New Testament. I even added some inventions, especially for what we consider as modern, but were actually invented before the birth of Christ.
If you have the time, have your children research what to write on the timeline themselves. We didn’t have that kind of time this summer. I wrote the words and then the children used what they knew to illustrate various events. We will display the finished work for the entire congregation to view at our Day of the Child potluck in a couple of weeks. It makes a great decoration and let’s be honest, I imagine more than a few adults will finally start putting things together as they read it. I know it sure helped me!
What have you done to help your children understand the Bible has real history lessons in it? Do your children struggle with thinking the Bible is a book of fairy tales and fables? How have you helped them differentiate between the Bible as true events and the fairy tales they often read? I would love for you to share your successes and struggles with others in a comment below!