Key To The Understanding Of The Scriptures
by H.P. MANSFIELD
Bible history has an importance and significance far transcending that of profane history. It illustrates the development of God's purpose with man, and, at the same time, typifies His future intentions. For example, Paul declared that the history of God's dealings with Israel revealed important lessons for the guidance of all those who would approach Him in truth. He declared: "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scripture might have hope" (Romans 15:4). Again: "All these things (and he referred to the history of Israel) happened unto them for ensamples (or types -- margin); and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Therefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).
Such statements show that God has revealed His purpose in the Bible both by direct teaching, and through the dramatic experiences of individuals and the rise and fall of nations.
A knowledge of Bible history, therefore, is important to a correct understanding of the character and purpose of God. The Gospel itself is a national hope, connected with Israel. The Scriptures declare: "God at the first did preach the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, 'In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed'" (Galatians 3:8). The promise made to Abraham formed the basis of a national hope, so that Paul, in defending himself before his accusers, claimed: "I stand, and am judged for the hope of the promise, made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come" (Acts 26:6). Later, as a prisoner in Rome, he told the elders of the Jewish community in that city: "For the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" (Acts 28:20).
Some knowledge of Bible history is therefore necessary for a complete understanding of the Gospel, and the hope that Paul embraced, and, of course, such understanding is essential to salvation (Romans 1:16).