Sights and Insights: Studying the land

Studying and experiencing the land of the Bible adds rich insight into one’s understanding of the Bible itself.

May 6, 2012 12:17
4 minute read.

Kinneret 370 DO NOT REPUBLISH . (photo credit: Wayne Stiles)

Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (

Studying historical geography, in my own experience, has permanently marked my life and changed the way I understand the Bible. Places and names, which I used to pass over, now immediately bring to mind a site’s history, its geographical pros and cons, its scenery, and even its smells. Having knowledge of a passage’s geography gives me a head start as I attempt to understand why events took place—sometimes repeatedly—in certain locations.

Walking the land of Israel has provided me with a deeper appreciation of God as Lord of world history and of seemingly minor details—both of which bring comfort to my life.
My experience is not unique. I have conducted and videotaped a number of interviews with those who have both studied geography and also been to Israel. Their testimonies illustrate the importance of understanding and experiencing historical geography—not just from a knowledge-based perspective but also as it benefits one’s spiritual life.

My research revealed that those who understand and experience historical geography enjoy a sharper comprehension of the Bible, a clearer direction to its application, and a more effective communication of truth. The study of historical geography provides a greater confidence in the Bible as God’s Word and instills a greater love for the God of the Bible. Those who study geography, coupled with time in the land, experience an even greater benefit than those who simply read books.

The spiritual lives of those who study historical geography are enriched. Whether they limit their study to the classroom, or enlarge it by traveling to Israel, their experience adds a dimension of authenticity and confidence to their faith.

A knowledge of Israel’s geography serves as an additional way to retain the truth of a passage. Remembering what a location looks like enables one to picture the action, to remember the event, to imagine its occurrence in a way that enables retention. Also many events took place in the same location, which also helps to tie the Bible together better.
It may seem an overstatement to claim that a person must study historical geography to understand the Word of God, but it is fair to say that the study will take a person much further toward an accurate understanding of God’s Word. Geography occurs on almost every page of Scripture.

God used it to mold the lives of His people in the biblical narrative, and God uses it to shape the lives of people today.

Wayne Stiles has never recovered from his travels in the Holy Land. Follow him on Twitter (
@WayneStiles) or on his blog at

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