Last night as I was helping Jo Jo, my five-year-old son, brush his teeth before bed, I asked him who Naaman was. No, I don't typically quiz my preschooler on obscure Bible stories, but some weeks ago he had shown me a craft he had made during a Sunday school lesson about the leper healed by Elisha (2 Kings 5), and I had been impressed with his level of comprehension. The other day I had stumbled across that craft again, and I was curious to see how much he remembered. Not surprisingly, the words "Naaman" and "leper" failed to jog his memory, but when I mentioned that Naaman had been told to wash seven times, he said, "In the Jordan river." Needless to say, I was very pleased that he still remembered some details of the story.
It was at this point that Jo Jo turned the tables on me. "Daddy," he said, "I don't know if you know this Bible story, but my teacher told me about some people who shot arrows so far the people couldn't even see them and they used logs to break down the walls." Now, I'm not completely sure what Bible story he was referring to—for all I know his teacher could simply have been relating a scene from a movie about the Trojan War—but I said, "Well, that sounds like when the evil Assyrians conquered the city of Lachish." I then told him, "I can even show you pictures of the battle!"
Then, in lieu of a bed-time story, I fired up Accordance on my laptop, opened the Bible Lands PhotoGuide, and did a search for "Lachish." I then showed him a photo of the modern day tel, the walls, and the siege ramp built by the Assyrians.
As exciting as these pictures were to me, archaeological site photos won't hold a five-year-old's interest for very long, so I quickly moved on to the Assyrian reliefs which depict this siege in vivid detail. I showed him the Assyrian archers, spearmen, and slingers. I showed him the battering ram being pushed up the siege ramp to the base of the walls. I pointed out how the defenders on the walls were throwing torches in an attempt to light the battering ram on fire, and how the Assyrians were ready for this, using water to douse the flames.
Finally, I showed him the Judean prisoners prostrating themselves before the Assyrian king and begging for mercy, while other prisoners were being executed and tortured.
Okay, so it wasn't the most cuddly bedtime story I could have told, but it had plenty of the action and adventure little boys crave. I assured Jo Jo that even though the Assyrians were strong and terrible, God preserved the people of Judah and eventually the Assyrians were defeated. As I said, I could have told warmer and fuzzier stories, but here was a chance to reinforce the fact that the Bible story he had asked me about was something that really happened. And thanks to the PhotoGuide, it was easier than going to the bookshelf to find Green Eggs and Ham.