Training in the Geography Class
We now come to that important subject of Geography which must also receive a distinctive treatment in the schools where God’s covenant children are instructed. There only can this subject be treated as it should be presented. There only can the royal priesthood of God’s children be trained as citizens of the kingdom of heaven whose calling is, while still here on earth, to live that heavenly citizenship in every sphere of this life.
This subject in some respects is quite different from that of history, and yet a close relationship between the turn of historical events and geography cannot escape our attention. Wars are fought, and history is made in that way, because of the rich resources to be found in certain sections of this earth. The wide ocean between us and Europe—which is also a geographical fact—explains how we escaped the devastation of the last world war in our land and how we now become the nation best fit materially to lead the world and to be the most powerful nation this earth has ever seen. Wars are fought for coal and iron reserves, for rivers and warm water outlets to the sea. The outcome of battles, the frontiers of nations, under God’s decree are determined by the geographical features of the land where God causes these battles to be fought and these nations to settle. In many other ways geography and history go hand in hand. We cannot refrain from pointing out, in addition to the above, the geographical position of the land of Canaan, the place where God chose to have His Son born and to have his Spirit poured out, on the eastern side of the vast Mediterranean Sea. How this furthered the missionary activities of Paul, and made travel westward so feasible and furthered the spread of the Church, we can plainly see.
When teaching geography instead of history we do not suddenly cease to consider the works of men. We will still be dealing with man. He is the chiefest of God’s earthly creatures. This earth was created for him, its gold, silver, iron, coal, fertile soil and even the “heavy water” from which the atomic energy is created are all made for man to use to the glory of God’s name. Man’s calling as a heavenly citizen on this earth requires that man be considered in the treatment of geography.
Now we will not be dealing with God’s works as He works through man, as we did in the history class. Indirectly this may even need to be stressed now and then, but chiefly in the geography class we deal with God’s work in creation as He performed it the first six days of this earth’s existence and changed it at the flood and at the tower of Babel. And we view these not only to show the greatness of God and His goodness, but chiefly to bring out that fundamental principle of Christian stewardship.
We will have to call attention to God’s covenant child that this earth is only temporary, that an end comes and a new heavens and earth shall appear. We will then, even as in the history class, call the child’s attention to God’s purpose with these things as well as with events. But chiefly do we deal in the geography class with that which God demands of us with the tremendous treasure He has given us to employ in His service.
Geography then becomes a tremendously important subject. In creation, in all the things which are treated in the geography class God reveals Himself. The heavens declare His glory, and the firmament showeth forth His handiwork. The lily in the field speaks of His beauty, the sun of His might and wisdom. And under the guidance then of a regenerated instructor who has also seen God in His Word, geography becomes a fascinating and very valuable subject.
Before we go any further, we wish to publish that which the Rev. Gritters has drawn up in these principles according to which the subject ought to be taught in the Christian school. And in the next issue of the Standard Bearer we hope to write a few more lines concerning geography and thereby underscore certain remarks which appear in these principles. That which the Rev. Gritters presents appears below.
- Geography is a study of the earth, its disposition and its fullness as it belongs to God the Lord ( ) but as it has been given to the children of men. ( ).
- In the study of Geography we are to remember the following: (a) That great sovereignty of God in dividing the earth among the peoples of the earth ( ,—Peleg meaning ‘divided’; ; ). Sin has brought confusion and envy, and in the judgment God sometimes has the land “spew out its inhabitants” ( ); also that there are thefts and conquests when each seizes as much of that earth as he can, but the earth’s disposition and array shows us that the hand of the Sovereign God as He originally divided to the nations their habitation. In this distribution we see infinite wisdom and mastery (Lordship). (b) Above all we are to remember that God has given this earth to the children of men for their use and as means wherewith to serve Him.
(1) The central viewpoint therefore is man as he under God is the responsible Head and King of creation. This was evident already in Paradise.
(2) God presents man with an earth full of God’s riches (). Above all there is an abundance of good ( ) wherein we see God providing wisely and abundantly. North, South, East and West coordinate to feed and clothe man. The earth brings him gold and silver ( ) coal, metals, goods and wood. The earth, the sea and what is under the sea is one mighty vault of riches. A testimony we have here of God’s abundant supply.
(3) But with all these things God demands of man wholehearted service. The earth’s furnishings impress man with the tremendous responsibility he bears to be friend-servant and steward to God. Man must subdue and have dominion over the earth according to Genesis 1. This must take place in love to God. As head and king of the earthly creation he must serve God and serve God’s cause with all the earth’s riches and abundance. Man however has fallen, and he has through sin become a thief, a rebel, an exploiter, etc. He refuses to serve God although he does lay his hands upon the earth’s furnishings. Along this way of abuse he stores up his accursed wealth in his Babylon of world-love (), lays up for himself treasures of wrath ( ) and fills the measure of iniquity until God burns up His earth and works. ( )
(4) Regenerated man is by God’s grace in Christ once again made king and priest of the Most High God and stands right toward God and the earth which he studies. Once again he knows his calling how to use that earth, with things receives earth’s bounties, seeks the things above, uses it to God’s glory and the welfare of his human fellowmen.
c. Lastly, we must not forget that this earth is man’s temporal abode. This earth will finally be destroyed by fire, when the history of this earth is done, and God will shake the wicked out of the earth and give it to His elect according to His promise: “The meek shall inherit the earth.”