Pastor Lawrence Exum
I have been a pastor and collector of Biblically related antiquities for over twenty years. Prior to pastoring, I was a Christian school teacher and principal as well. One of the most effective instructional and faith building tools that I have ever found were ancient artifacts found in the Holy Land.
For example, the Bible says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Most people have no idea what a lamp from the Old Testament time period looks like or even thought about it. When I actually show them one from that era, that passage takes on a new meaning. The same can be said of a lamp from the time of Jesus mentioned in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The visual aid of the lamp from this period imparts a greater understanding to what Jesus was saying.
To show coins mentioned in the Bible like the “widow’s mites” or “lepta” (Greek) in Mark 12:41-44 or the “Tribute Penny” or “denarius” (Greek) referred to in Mark 12:13-17 helps bring the Bible to life. The credibility of these stories is further strengthened because these objects can be verified historically to that particular time frame by archaeology.
Further, people are simply amazed when you display the ancient artifact actually referred to in the Scriptures. I immensely enjoy watching the astonished look on people’s faces when I allow them to “hold history in their hand.” This feeling cannot be substituted by pictures of objects alone. I often ask myself, “Why does not every Bible teacher and pastor collect Biblically related objects?” I have concluded the following two reasons: First of all, many do not realize that these artifacts are available to anyone, and you do not have to be involved in an archaeological dig to acquire them. They may be legally purchased from an antiquity dealer. Second of all, many believe that these artifacts are very expensive. That may hold true for some rarer items, but many objects like terracotta lamps and bottles are common and can fit in the most modest of budgets.
The same holds true for many coins mentioned in the Bible. One last word of advice, be sure that the seller is authorized to sell antiquities and is reputable. Sadly, not all items available on the market are authentic. Also, some artifacts may have unwanted restorations, hidden repairs or simply not from the time period claimed.
However, don’t let that discourage you from the wonderful world of collecting Biblically related antiquities. The benefits of collecting are very, very rewarding!