Last week we talked about the importance of learning to read the Scriptures clearly. As we said, in our curriculum we want to emphasize literacy — the ability to understand written words, to apply them to life, and to use language with proficiency in order to interact with the culture around us.
Today I’d like to show you a little more clearly how to use the Bible in your various homeschooling subjects.
Answering Questions with Direct Quotes from Scripture
Here is a snippet from last week’s Torah portion:
On Day 1, the students are asked, “Why did YHWH confirm His promise to Isaac?”
Once upon a time, I would have expected my children to answer something like this:
“Because He wanted Isaac to remember the promise He had already made to his father Abraham.”
However, I’ve been getting a little more strict with my kids. I want them to learn to answer directly from their Bibles. I want them to actually look at Genesis 26:5 and say,
“Because ‘Abraham obeyed YHWH’s voice, and kept his charge, his commandments, his statues, and his laws.'”
Do you think this is excessive? Or a little obsessive?
Well, take a look at Matthew 4, where Yeshua was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted (or tested) by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Yeshua answered the tempter by directly quoting Scripture. He answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” This was a direct quote from the Torah, in Deuteronomy 8:3.
Notice, however, how Eve responded when the serpent came to her. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
This was a fair question. What did God really say?
Eve answered with her own words, rather than the exact words of God. She said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die'” (Genesis 3:1-3).
Sadly, she added to the command of God, for He had only said, “You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Because I am quite sure your children will also be tempted or tested some day, it is wise to begin teaching them the importance of every word. Teach them to “look up the answer in the textbook,” especially when that textbook is the very Word of God. If they answer “in their own words,” remind them to look carefully at the verse and to quote the verse in their answer.
Keep in mind that this skill would also serve them well in the following subjects:
- Solving story problems in arithmetic
- Copying verses into their copywork notebooks
- Looking up definitions for vocabulary or science
- Figuring out controversial questions in history
- Labeling parts of speech in grammar
Using Study Tools to Dig Deeper into a Passage
Let’s look at that snippet from last week’s Torah portion again:
On Day 2, the older students are asked to do a study of Hebrew words. In fact, students are asked to use study tools quite frequently in many subjects of the curriculum.
Here are some of the tools that I like, although I’m sure there are many more. (In fact, these are just tools such as books and websites. If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can probably find many more!)
- Nothing beats an old-fashioned, hard-bound Strong’s Concordance. Yes, it’s a beast of a book! But it’s also a tool that can teach your child so much about how to study the Bible. I do highly recommend that you invest in one sometime. And after you have one? Be sure to actually take the time to read the introduction with your children and learn how to really use it properly.
- Almost every word in the King James Version has been assigned a Strong’s number. This is simply a handy reference to the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries that Mr. Strong wrote, which are included in the back of his famous concordance. While his definitions are not inspired, they are incredibly helpful, especially until we have learned to read and write Hebrew and Greek. You should take the time to learn how to use his dictionary properly so that you do not misinterpret Scripture. The best way is to read the instructions for using the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, included in the back of Strong’s Concordance.
- E-Sword is one of the best tools ever. Best of all, it is free! It comes with the KJV and also the “KJV+” that shows the Strong’s numbers next to almost every word. You can also get Hebrew and Greek Bibles (some also including Strong’s numbers), as well as many popular English translations. (Some of these require a purchase.) You can even download the popular Scriptures translation for E-Sword!
- When online, I often turn to Bible Gateway to read from the Bible. It contains most English translations at no charge, as well as audio versions. These audio versions come in really handy on days when I’m too tired to read much aloud or if we just want to enjoy a little drama with our reading!
- For deeper study, I enjoy Blue Letter Bible. It has extensive commentaries and lexicons, as well as Strong’s Concordance. The website offers video tutorials to help you learn to use all of the site’s potential, and I highly recommend them.
- Schalk and Elsa Klee, of Set Apart People, have written several articles on even further ways to study the Bible. I found these articles very helpful.
I would enjoy hearing about some of the resources you use and love. I also welcome your questions, if you’d like more help in using some of the resources I’ve mentioned.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV).