In the Book of Joshua Chapter 4, God commands Joshua to place twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan river and then in Gilgal after the Israelites crossed the river, as a teaching tool to the children of Israelites to remember the great works of God’s salvation in the past. “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know . . . “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever” (Josh 4:21-24).
History is important because it helps us to remember God’s mighty acts of salvation. The stones in Gilgal functioned like a history book. It is interesting to note that God considers learning the history of what God did an important thing. Why does God want us to keep a record of what he did? And how about what we did in history? Is a record of what man did not important? The simple answer is that history is His Story. Man’s story, our story, does not have a good ending, unless it is intentionally seen as a part of the larger story of what God is doing. Because God is writing out an amazing story throughout history which reveals God’s wisdom and his goodness to those who trust in Him. So, we need to learn history first and foremost to know our God in a deeply personal way.
But there is a more specific reason. God is preparing us for a mighty spiritual battle. In Joshua chapter 6, Israelites face the “mighty men of valor” (6:2) in Jericho. Learning history is not simply to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It is much more than that. It is to bring our hearts and minds to wholly depend on God. Since God is our strength, in spiritual battle, we need to wholly depend on God. In a physical battle, the outcome of the battle depends on individual courage and the unity of the army, not the number of the soldiers. Courage and unity comes from depending on God.
The most significant part of this passage is that God is telling the parents to teach history to their children. It’s not that the children cannot learn history on their own. It’s because the history of our relationship with God is best taught from parents to children. It’s not so much the textbooks. Those are only reminders. It’s our parents’ experience of God’s powerful acts of salvation and goodness in their own lives that needs to be transmitted faithfully to their children. That’s how our children come to know God deeply personally. The God that I know now is mostly from what my own dad taught me since I was a wee little child. If God can transform a young aspiring man, even with his own flaws, into a humble life of blessing so many people’s lives, that God is good enough for me.
Here are a few top recommendations for history books for families to read together at home. I pray that God will transmit his glory from you as parents to your children and then to their children, through faithful remembrance of God’s mighty acts.
God’s Timeline: The Big Book of Church History For ages 6-12. Single book. Illustrated. Pullout timelines. Learn about the Early, Medieval and Missionary church, passing through key events such as the Council of Nicea and the Reformation – right through to the present day. Find out about the people God used and the impact they had on those around them – including us today!
History Lives For ages 7-12. A set of books. Can be purchased separately. Not illustrated. Short chapters. The History Lives series covers the history of the Christian church through its people. This is history without the wooliness- and with all the wonder. A beautifully packaged box set of the highly recommended series containing all 5 volumes at a special price.
Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series For ages 7-12. Series of at least 25 books. Sold separately. One book focuses on one figure in history. Beautifully illustrated. This series introduces children to important people in the Christian tradition. Parents and schoolteachers alike will welcome the excellent educational value it provides for students, while the quality of the publication and the artwork make each volume a keepsake for generations to come. Furthermore, the books in the series go beyond the simple story of someone’s life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character.
Christian Heroines Just Like You For Ages 8-14. Single volume with multiple figures. These women made sacrifices for their faith. They endured pain and suffering in order to give glory to their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and they have given us a legacy. With these twenty-one heronies you can go through history and see how these women made a difference in their world and in the church. From the slave girl Blandina through to the young mother Betty Stam, we discover the women from the early church to modern missionaries who face their struggles with the strength of God. Nothing could separate them, or us, from the love of God.
Christian Heroes Just Like You For Ages 8-14. Single volume with multiple figures. We all have heroes – people we admire, look up to, and want to be like. Here are twenty-one heroes who stood up for their faith. We remember them because they did great and brave things for their God. Learn about them, and find that you can be a Christian Hero too!