Family Bibles were once a popular item in a household, often serving as a “warehouse” that preserved a family’s history. Produced by large publishing houses, being over-sized and leather bound, it was frequently the most expensive book in a home. Since it was designed to withstand the abuse of time, it became a natural place to keep important documents and items of sentimental value. As it was handed down through a family, each successive generation added genealogical information to the record. Since it contained the actual handwriting of ancestors, it’s not hard to understand why such a book was guarded and preserved as a family treasure.
Due to old age and medical issues, my parents are now living in an assisted care facility in Midlothian, TX, having made the move in August of 2015. After 67 years of married life in the Houston area, the largest city in the Lone Star state, Bill and Jimie Dickinson are now residing in a new location. As they prepared to move, certain possessions were passed on to family members according to their wishes, involving things like furniture, dishes, jewelry, and religious books. One of the items that I received is the Family Bible that my mother bought years ago. That’s why I’m calling it– MOTHER’S FAMILY BIBLE. It is something that I treasure and plan to pass on to my children someday, hoping that it will be a blessing to future generations yet to come.
With the book now in my possession, I’ve had the opportunity to scrutinize its contents. It has surely been a walk down memory lane for me! No wonder my mother loved this book. Of all the possessions given away, this was the one item that she thought twice about giving up. I’m thankful for the gift because it has already been a blessing to me. Indeed, many great truths are reinforced in my mind when I consider the contents of mother’s Family Bible. Please consider some of them with me:
THE HOLY BOOK
First, I want to emphasize that the Bible is a special book, the only one of its kind. While Solomon’s observation is still true, that “of making many books there is no end” (Ecc. 12:12), the Bible is the only book that contains the “holy scriptures” (2 Tim. 3:15). Looking at the cover of such a large volume like mother’s Family Bible, I am struck by the impressiveness of those words that declare in big, bold letters– HOLY BIBLE! Pay special attention to that word “holy” because it aptly describes what the Bible is all about.
Certainly the Bible is holy because of its origin— “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet. 1:20-21). It is those sacred writings of inspired men, Paul affirmed to Timothy, that “are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). This demonstrates that it is also holy in content. In the Bible we find a sacred account of all that we need to know about Jesus and why we should place our faith in Him as the Son of God (John 20:30-31).
If we really believe that it is a holy book in origin and content, we must conclude that it is an authoritative book! That’s why we look to the Scriptures for guidance and instruction, daring not to err from its teachings (2 John 9). After all, the Bible is the definitive, official source on how to live for God and make heaven our home. Believing that to be true, my mother purchased a Family Bible many years ago and taught her children to respect God’s word. That leads me to my next point . . .
CENTERPIECE OF THE HOME
There was a time when mother’s Family Bible sat on the coffee table of our living room for all to see and utilize. There was a reason why it occupied a place of prominence. I now realize, more than ever before, how it was a symbol of the fact that Christ and His word was the very foundation of our home. Right in the middle of this edition, between the old and new testaments, information concerning “important events in our family history” is recorded. Involving several generations, details about births, marriages, and the deaths of family members can be found there.
My trip down memory lane reminded me of how our parents always encouraged us to put Christ first in our lives. As a result, our home was a place of Bible reading, prayer, and devotion to God. Certainly I’m not saying that we literally have to possess a Family Bible today in order to be serious about serving God, but I’m emphasizing what it once symbolized in people’s lives. It is this kind of commitment to God and His word that our homes must be founded upon. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,” Paul wrote in Eph. 6:4, “but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The old country song captures the essence of what I’m trying to say:
There’s a family Bible on the table
Each page is torn and hard to read
But the family Bible on the table
Will ever be my key to memories
At the end of the day when work was over
And when the evening meal was done
Dad would read to us from the family Bible
And we’d count our blessings one by one
PASSING IT ON
Finally, I am reminded that God’s word must be passed on to future generations. As I’ve already implied, mother’s Family Bible includes a “grand-children’s register” that she meticulously filled out. Let us remember that generations come and go, but life continues on and God’s word remains forever (1 Pet. 1:25). Why do you suppose that genealogical information was ever recorded in a Family Bible? Undoubtedly people believed that this was a safe place to preserve something! While other items might lose their significance and be destroyed or given away, the presumption was that the Bible would always be preserved and passed on from generation to generation.
Likewise, as parents and grandparents we need to see the importance of passing God’s word on to the next generation (2 Tim. 2:2). In the final analysis, it’s not that my parents had a Family Bible that set my feet on the right path. No, it was their godly influence in seeing how they lived out truth and righteousness on a daily basis. There must never be any question in our children’s minds about our commitment to the Lord or what that commitment involves. Whether its recorded in a Family Bible or etched on a tombstone, our lives will begin and end as it does with every generation– “A time to be born, and a time to die” (Ecc. 3:2). Isn’t it sobering to realize that how we live between those two events will determine our eternal destiny? Think about it!
Article by: Billy D. Dickinson