Archaeology and Studying The Bible

samaria ruins

It’s not exactly Indiana Jones, but archaeology is a fantastic aid to Bible study. Much of the Bible customs we know today have been either verified or enlarged upon through archaeological findings. In addition we have more accurately labeled certain Bible sites, which is a wonderful thing if you get the chance to visit the Holy Land and stand and visualize the Bible.


Archaeology doesn’t trump the Bible at any point. When your archaeological findings come into conflict, you need further study and, of course, keep believing the Bible. As great as archaeology is, it is only as good as the presuppositions that the archaeologist holds. That can make for scandalous news stories. Personally, I have never once seen an unbiased archaeologist have findings that fully contradicted the Bible.

One famous case is the dig done at Jericho by the famous Kathleen Kenyon. She was, without question, an accomplished archaeologist. The problem was the miraculous tumbling of the walls of Jericho as recorded in Scripture. If you hold an anti-miracle position, it would be an embarrassment for your archaeological findings to match the Biblical record. She did good work except for dating the findings too far away to match Joshua’s account. It wasn’t the facts that required the dating, but her presuppositions and biases.

Interestingly enough, archaeologist Byrant Wood has done further work and reviewed the massive details of Ms. Kenyon’s work. His findings? The pottery would, in fact, match the time of Joshua. Even more amazing, there were burnt items and jars of stored food in the ruins. Likely there would have been fire in Joshua’s conquest. If the walls fell suddenly, then you would expect the food to be found in containers. Had Jericho been overthrown at the end of a siege as some claim, the food would have been all consumed. I didn’t need that to believe what the Bible said, but it is absolutely fascinating!

Time and time again, findings match exactly what the Bible said. In the first two pictures here, you are looking at Samaria. You can see what efforts are required to do this type of study. Herod built a palace here in Jesus’ day right where the Kings of the Northern Kingdom had their palace. Archaeological findings only backed up what the Bible said. Deep in the West Bank in the current day, it is a beautiful site that commands an impressive view. No wonder the palace was there. What a thrill it was for me to go there and imagine Ahab being visited by Elijah and Elisha, or daydream about the four lepers at the siege. I couldn’t help but notice the evidence of past archaeological work there too.


samaria ruins two

Archaeology isn’t the only element in identifying a Bible site in Biblical lands. Place names carried down through the years, what previous generations have believed, texts preserved, and a correlation to all the facts the Bible mentions are all essential. Now we just add archaeology to the list.

Sometimes all of these elements still fail to yield a conclusive answer. Take, for example, Sodom. There has always been debate. Some scholars I respect have suggested a place called Bab edh-Dhra. I am convinced by their evidence. Though difficult to find, I went there when I was in Jordan. In the picture below, you see it looks so God-forsaken. I fear presuppositions have hindered study of the site of Sodom too.

Archaeology can add a helpful level to our study of God’s Word. Some understanding of a process we don’t have to be part of (though being part of a dig would be awesome), can yield us great results.


Book Review:

doing archaeology

Doing Archaeology in the Land of the Bible by John Currid is a fine aid to grasping what archaeology is, how it is done, and what it brings to us. It is a basic guide and all most Bible students need. In 120 pages it gives a real overview that would make descriptions of archaeological results more meaningful to you. As a pastor, I would give it high marks.

Preachers and Preaching by Lloyd-Jones (Books on the Ministry # 6)

If you had to list the two or three greatest books on the ministry, you would have to consider Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Since it was published in 1972, it has perhaps been the most influential title on the subject.

Why has it been so popular? On the one hand, Lloyd-Jones clearly stands as one of the masters of the pulpit. He could open the Scriptures with a deftness most of us who preach could only dream of. Then there is the fact that he is a racy lecturer. This volume is a written record of his lectures on preaching near the end of his career. What he has to say is worth hearing! He gives life to what some call “the romance of preaching.”

He begins at the beginning–the primacy of preaching. As he says, “…the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” He laments the increase of entertainment in worship at the expense of preaching. That is only more true today. He disdains the shift from our great task–the exposition of God’s Word. His solution is to bring preaching back to its proper place. Actually, it is his answer to every issue that he will discuss. I suspect that he is exactly right!

Lloyd-Jones carefully unfolds what preaching is as well as what a sermon itself really is. Along the way he drops nuggets of gold as if he were dispensing cheap candy. For all the criticisms of preaching today, his explanation that preaching smashes pride, with our need of being humbled so real, preaching then is the avenue to reach people. He believes people with come to hear preaching if, and only if, it be real preaching.

To him real preaching must be expository. Though there can be an occasionally blessed topical message, he is right. The reason is that we need God’s Word, not our own creative message. It is the Bible first, not your sermon idea. How contrary to most preaching today, but perhaps a good explanation for preaching’s low standing in current times.

In the larger context of preaching, he elevates the importance of corporate public worship. He writes of the wonderful long term benefits of preaching in people’s lives. He explains what a call to the ministry really is. He is adamant that “the pew” not control “the pulpit.” He explains how people can pull the preacher away from what we are to do, but we must hold true for their good.

His chapter on “The Preparation of the Preacher” is incredibly good. It gives us so much on personal growth. He ends with a discussion on the necessity of the unction of the Holy Spirit in our preaching. That is a correct emphasis.

Some criticize how dogmatic he is in this volume. He is truly harsh on a few occasions and a little too picky on some minor matters. Still, if you just overlook a few such lapses, you will find incredible treasure throughout this volume.

Be sure to look for Zondervan’s 40th Anniversary Edition of this great classic. In addition to his text, six modern well-known preachers explain why this volume is so good. What they have to say is worthwhile too.

I love this book and I think you will too.

Related Posts:
You can find all posts and books reviewed in this series here in this introductory post.

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A Man In The Making — A Book To Instill Character Into Your Son


Do you ever worry about instilling character and values into your sons? Do your even feel awkward about it in light of our culture’s rewrite of what it even means to be a man? What values most need reinforcing? This volume by Rick Johnson and published by Revell can be a help to you.

Johnson takes from the lives of twelve great men from history to illustrate great character traits that we so need to see in the next generation of men. Personally, I find some of the men more worthy of emulation than others in his list, but he does a fine job drawing these traits out of the men he looked at. His rationale is that boys need role models. It is the absolute best way to see these traits in our boys. What is modeled will be followed!

It is not just biography we find here, however, as he gives practical advice of how to help boys take these traits into the fabric of their being.

He is not afraid to be politically incorrect and that certainly makes the volume refreshing. I agree that it is time we quit going with the current of cultural downgrades and turn and swim toward what previous generations almost intuitively knew. Our boys are too important to play the games played today!

There is little Gospel here. He is not writing about what God can do, but what we should do. For what it is, it is good and I recommend it.


I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .

Together Is A Beautiful Word by Guest Blogger Jennie Bender

bender family
Here is a story that will reach your heart. Jennie Bender and her family walked through the fires of trial. She is wife to Shane and mother of Sabrina, Elaine, Darcy, and Davison. They are a wonderful Christian family living now in Fairborn, Ohio. The other day when I wrote a blog post called “What If Your Healing Doesn’t Come”, Jennie privately wrote my wife and I on her experiences with praying for a healing that didn’t come. In her case, it wasn’t for herself, but for her child. That is just as appropriate to the subject as any parent would realize. What she wrote was so touching, powerful, and real, I asked if I could share it as a guest blog post. Be sure to read the extra information she gave at the end. It is an honor to give her piece here. It is little edited so nothing of her heart is lost. Here it is in her words…

I just read your piece on healing. It was a blessing. I believe He can, but I have peace that He didn’t. God gives grace, mercy, and peace to go through trials. I could not do without any of those three at any given time. I have learned more, gained more, so much more. If I could go back– I’d probably selfishly choose to take away trisomy 18 (explained below) and have my daughter alive– without sleepless nights and burning tears, without knowledge of impending death, without… But I’d not know this great grace, I’d not have a strong realization of Heaven, I’d not have a measure of faith, I’d not have the blessings of brokenhearted strangers who reached out and gave me friendship through our mutual suffering, and I’d not have lifelong friendships given to me on her behalf by God’s hand…

I had so many say that God would take away this problem and it’d just go away– because He is God. Death was surely not coming to my house– according to them. They meant well; it was what we all wanted.

bender children

The Lord showed me that wasn’t the way I was going– though I wanted it badly, more than anyone passing by could fathom. I remember my own prayer– “Lord, I know you are praying for me because I don’t know what to pray.” I even went so far as to pray for her death so she could be truly safe– and hastily recanted it as soon as I spoke it– because I couldn’t believe I spoke it aloud. Only a mother dealing with a fatal disorder could understand that prayer and its depth. I wanted her more than I could bear, but my love for her wanted the fullest, happiest life for her– and with her diagnosis the best place was not with me but with God.. There was a guilt after I prayed that prayer because of my absolute humanity, but my heart later knew that prayer was because of my love for her — her grave struggles and future caused me to desire to give her to God– though it broke my heart in pieces. And I am sure someone will say that’s wrong, but the Lord knows how desperately we wanted her– with or without her so-called deformities. She was perfect to us and still is, no one dare question our love for her. Even if they did, there is no point to prove to them. We stand before God Almighty; He knew and knows our hearts. We only wanted her best– and that is love– and the greatest love is someone else’s best over your own selfish desires.

baby pic

This is a real issue, as you say. There are so many remarks you receive… some are not helpful. I am so thankful for the people who came into my life– people who were broken hearted, mended, and ministering because they had seen God. They all spoke the same words, just like a painter’s hand is recognized in every painting, you could see His hand and hear His voice through their unique stories. Others did not have that, only the broken ones. They had seen God work –they were compelled to comfort as He had personally comforted them and as they had been blessed by His people through their own sorrow.

I am changed because of those days. They are painful at times to recall, but the changes God made have only made our lives better. Every move He makes is for our good, and I trust the loving kindness of the Lord.

And as for your family and mine, our situations are not the same and not to be compared, but the Lord has made us better friends because of our trials.

(Editor’s Note: There is a hard-to-explain camaraderie in suffering.)

Trisomy 18 is a generation of an extra chromosome. It can be shattered, misplaced, or a duplicate chromosome. The simplest explanation is– it is like an extra puzzle piece. It fits, it is perfect, it is useful, fully functioning, alive. The only problem is–it is extra, therefore it destroys the whole. It can be genetic, it can be due to the age of a mother, but most of the time, as in our case, it is simply an accident at the onset of the division and multiplication of cells. Every time the bundle of life multiplies and divides it creates more problems. Since it is in the actual cells, there is nothing to do but wait. We were told she would die before her due date, she would have great struggles and die eleven days after her birth on average, and if she survived beyond those early days–she would surely be dead within a year.


Elaine had an extra finger, water on the brain, strawberry shaped skull, a twisted foot, and three holes in her heart– nearly every marker of T18. Our marriage was given a 1% survival rate because of the stress before and after her delivery. God has been good, we’ve not been prefect, but He has led us gently all the way. We have an unexplainable daily joy and gratitude that was given to us because we put our child and our broken hearts in God’s hands. “We are better for knowing her–even if it was just for a moment.”

She is the reason we say and know, “Together” is a beautiful word.

Thanks Jennie


If you know anyone going through such times, please let us know –

Also, Now I lay Me Down to Sleep is a non-profit organization consisting of professional photographers who photograph families whose children have been given a fatal diagnosis. They were a great blessing to us. Lori Anderson of Simply Southern Photography took pictures of Elaine through


What If My Healing Doesn’t Come? The original post Jennie responded to.

Confessions of a Disability Marriage Jennie mentioned God’s grace in her marriage getting through what wrecks many marriages. It is tough and I have written on my own case.

Future Grace by John Piper

How would you like a book that takes the concept of grace and interweaves it through the whole of Scripture? By that I mean what grace really means to us. How does faith play out to bring the dramatic power of grace into our lives? How does grace, faith, sin, and the promises of God interrelate to make the Christian life the awesome thing it is? I assure you that Mr. Piper makes one of the strongest explanations I have seen in that regard.

Not that I would agree with everything he writes (I don’t), but he takes you to thoughts that need to be entertained though you have never thought them before. That interrelation of key Bible concepts I spoke of is the volume’s greatest asset. He connected a few dots for me.

Though he ties many things together, his theme is one: we must live by faith in the future grace of God. We find that that simple theme brings great clarity to the Christian life as expressed in the Scriptures. Or as he further explained, “…the faith which justifies also sanctifies, because the nature of faith is to be satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus.”

I can at best whet you appetite in this review of the things he brings out. For example, he describes sin as what you do when you are not satisfied with God. We sin, he says, because we believe we will find happiness there. That presupposes a lack of faith in what God said. If we believed His grace will deliver what it promised, it would be impossible to think that the sin in question could bring happiness. I can see that truth, can’t you?

Perhaps you will be as shocked as I was to follow his discussion on the debtor’s ethic. He justly describes how we so often try to motivate ourselves and others by saying that we owe the Lord for what He did for us. Though what He did for us is monumental beyond description, he shows that is not at all how the Bible seeks to motivate us. No, he rightly argues, our problem is always a lack of faith, not a lack of gratitude, when it comes to the matter of radically following and obeying Jesus Christ.

Pride, he goes on, is a specific form of unbelief that is a turning from God to self. With that goes a loss of faith that comes a foolish faith in the promises of self. That ties the hands of grace’s work. Building on C.S. Lewis he tells of the “itch of self-regard and the scratch of self-approval.” He quotes: “The pleasure of pride is like the pleasure of scratching. If there is an itch one does want to scratch; but it is much nicer to have neither the itch nor the scratch.” He explains how the craving of the praise of others is a loss of faith in future grace.

There is so much more. He goes all the way to a faith in future grace that can triumphantly lay down one’s life for the glory of God as many martyrs before us have done. How did they do it? They believed the promises of God and the grace they contain.

Besides a few points of disagreement, I love this book. I find it superior to his writings on Christian hedonism, though he believes they are connected. It is 400 pages that I had to read slowly, but it is worth it. He has conveniently given this work in 31 chapters if you want to take a month with it. That might be the best way.

This volumes re-establishes how my faith in what my Lord has told me is so essential to the overall success of my Christian life. For that, I thank Mr. Piper.


I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .