Think of the places most significant to you. That’s right, the places. What makes them so special? Most likely, it’s not the places themselves but the events that took place there.
In our lives, events make places significant because of memories. But in biblical times, it was often just the opposite. The place itself often played a major role in causing a significant event.
The lands of the Bible offer more than a mere backdrop for the stories of the Bible. These places played an integral role in shaping the lives of those who lived there. God designed it so. And for us, understanding how the land shaped its people gives us tremendous insight into understanding Scripture.
Even more, it gives us a glimpse as to how God uses even geography in our lives today.
How God Used Geography in the Bible
Trace any civilization back to its origin, and geography provides the stage for history’s drama.
- Beside the place where water gushed from the ground, there a man drove his tent stake—and so laid the foundation of a city.
- Rains ran through immovable ravines, and beside those rivers people cultivated their fields and watered their livestock.
- Where the easiest ground to travel lay, there a wayfarer walked—and so a highway began.
Be it a strategic military position, an abundant water supply or a convenient traveling route, geography determined, to a great extent, where the events occurred.
- As the only land bridge between Asia and Africa, the Promised Land was the envy of surrounding nations. This taught Israel that God protects.
- In a land without a consistent water supply, the Hebrews depended on rain for survival. This taught Israel that God provides.
Because living in the land required faith, God used geography to affect their spiritual lives. Not much has changed for us today.
How God Uses Geography in Our Lives
God wants us to trust Him, and so do we. He wants us to glorify Him, to know Him, and so do we. But really, we often want to trust God only when we understand Him. We want to glorify God in our success—not in our struggles. And our desire to know Him slices His list of attributes in half. We only want the pleasant parts of God.
When we settle for anything less than all of God, we settle for less than all we can become. We can’t help all this. If we could, we wouldn’t have needed a Savior. The Lord Jesus has a good deal more for us than salvation. Conversion to Christ provides but the beginning of the good work He will do in us—and the good works He has prepared for us to do.
Because God is much bigger than we can imagine, He wants for us more than we ever dreamed.
That’s why God takes us places.
Why God Uses Geography in Our Lives
In these sacred places, the Lord reveals the weakness of our hearts so that we
learn not to depend on ourselves. As our weak grip gives way, we discover the joy of our weakness is His strength—which carried us all along.
Biblical characters and their places offer ideal fodder for daily devotions, for they provide us with a view into how God shapes our own lives through the locations He has placed us.
We discover that the God who seemed a sadist in our struggles has loved us despite our doubts and discouragement.
As with Jacob by the Jabbok, God allows us first to struggle against Him, then to struggle with Him, and then, at last, to struggle for Him so that as we surrender, we become more like the one who prayed in Gethsemane, “Not my will, but yours be done.” We become what He created us to be.
We can only grow to be like Christ as we know Christ—all of Him.
So God takes us places we would never choose in order to give us what we could never receive anywhere else—more of Him.