In the age of GPS and the ability to quickly find out where things are, we have lost some touch with where things are and the distances between them. I know this is the case for me. Then we look even farther back to Biblical times and to the Middle East our sense of location and cultures of areas is even more skewed.
We are starting our New Testament Unit now and kicked it off talking about Maps. I know this sounds like a riveting topic, but it gives us even more context into what we are reading. Let’s take a look at part of Paul’s journey in Acts 14:24-28:
“Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. When they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had completed. When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. And they stayed there with the disciples for some time.”
Do these destinations mean anything to you? For me, I just breeze over them sometimes, but when we do that we miss a big part of the story. Paul traveled a lot for his ministry, and utilized the network of road the Roman Empire had created. In this journey Paul traveled about 7,000 miles!
As we continue to move through the New Testament we will continue to look at the maps and other parts of the stories. When we skip some of the details we miss out on the story. Think about when we share stories of travels with our friends. When we talk about a new place do we just name the place and not share any details about it? Of course not! If the person we are speaking with isn’t familiar with the location we give them context so they understand what we are talking about.
Our reading of scripture is no different. When Jesus or the disciples were speaking of locations the people they were speaking to understood those locations or at least had an idea of what those places were like. When we don’t look into the cities then we miss out the story and the meaning of it.