Exciting Additions Will Make Bible History Come Alive at the Ark Encounter

Why we’re building one of the world’s largest indoor models of Jerusalem

by Ken Ham on October 8, 2022
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

History is important—in fact, it’s vital! Various people have tried to eradicate history through the ages, but if this happens, the younger generations will not understand what has led to their present situation.

AiG has embarked on another special project to ensure all generations both understand events in history and the importance of understanding who Jesus is (more on that later).

If history is important, how much more so is biblical history? As a young boy, I remember my father battling against the impact of the liberal theology proclaimed by some pastors who had received such teaching in seminary. They would try to explain away the miracles God did by claiming Jesus walked across a sand bar rather than on water. Or that a boy shared his loaves and fishes, so everyone else did the same. Or that Jairus’ daughter wasn’t really dead, so Jesus just revived her. Thus there were no real miracles. Remember, the religious leaders of Jesus’ day often refused to accept that any miracles had happened because they refused to accept Jesus as God’s Son.

Of course, this undermined biblical authority and who God is, and as a result, those impacted by this teaching do not understand the true God of miracles, and they also relegate Jesus to just a man and not the Son of God.

Teaching Biblical History

It is so important for us to teach our children the history God has revealed in his Word so they will understand who the true God is and who the Son of God is.

It is so important for us to teach our children the history God has revealed in his Word so they will understand who the true God is and who the Son of God is.

When Joshua crossed the Jordan River, God told him (Joshua 4) to have 12 men fetch 12 stones from the bed of the normally fast-flowing river and build a memorial. When their children would ask what the stones meant, they were to tell them the history of what God did to remind them of who God is. Sadly, we read in Judges 2 that the next generation did not know the true God and served false gods instead. As we read in Psalm 78, the fathers did not teach their children the history they needed to know to understand who the one true God is.

In our day, there has been a devastating attack on the history God has revealed in Genesis 1–11. Now, the first 11 chapters of Genesis are foundational to all doctrine, to the rest of the Bible, and to our biblical worldview. Sadly, this history has been largely rejected by much of the church. We see the terrible consequences in the generational loss from the church and in the younger generations promoting a secular, anti-God worldview, which leads to moral relativism. This is one of the reasons God raised up Answers in Genesis, Answers Academy (our Christian school), and the Ark and Creation Museum attractions—to teach generations the true history that is foundational to everything, including the saving gospel. This is also why AiG produces unique apologetics/biblical worldview curricula for churches, homeschool, and Christian schools.

The Jerusalem Model Project

Last year, as part of our end-of-year fundraising project, we raised funds to produce one of the world’s largest indoor models of first-century Jerusalem (and the largest of the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day). Our design staff and researchers have been working on this enormous undertaking in addition to all the other projects in which they are involved. Understanding first-century Jerusalem gives vital historical background in understanding who Jesus is, how the church was established, and the importance of the gospel and the great commission.

This model will be about 2,000 square feet, divided into three large sections so people can walk around and see everything clearly. We will have a program running using various types of technology to teach about the city and follow the life and teachings of Jesus as the God-man.

  • Ark Encounter New Exhibit
  • Ark Encounter New Exhibit
  • Ark Encounter New Exhibit

As our designers developed this project, we all realized (far more than we expected) how important this is to teach to the coming generations.

Here is some of what we’ll teach using this unique model: history, hermeneutics, apologetics, and the gospel. Jerusalem is central throughout biblical and modern history. Using various technological means, people will learn about sites mentioned in the Bible and by other historians. They will learn about the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans and the history of the city before David and through modern times. They will follow Jesus’ ministry in Jerusalem and learn about archaeological finds confirming the Bible’s history. The principal feature will be information about the biblical narrative and the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jews, combined with a detailed understanding of what Jesus taught. All of this enables a powerful presentation of the gospel based in real history.

Emphasizing Biblical Authority and the Gospel

As you know, our emphasis at Answers in Genesis has always been biblical authority and the gospel. Because of the attack on the history recorded in Genesis 1–11, we have specialized in teaching apologetics so that all generations have answers to these attacks and won’t be led astray by doubt leading to unbelief. And through all this, we always proclaim the saving gospel.

As the ministry has grown, we have also seen the need to equip people concerning the truth of God’s Word as the devil (the “father of lies”) tries to get people to reject God’s Word as a book of history. As I teach children in my presentations, the Bible is the history book of the universe.

In 2021, we opened what has become a popular exhibit called Borderland. This exhibit teaches people what happened in history from the end of the Old Testament to the beginning of the New Testament. As a result, people have an understanding of what happened to the Greeks and why the Romans were in control in first-century Israel. The exhibit helps show all of the various sects present at the time and grants a greater understanding of why Jesus taught and acted as he did in this first-century environment. This all aids in authenticating the New Testament and gives greater clarity of who Jesus is and what it all means.

This first-century model of Jerusalem will be used to enhance the teaching from the Borderland exhibit. We are convinced this will make the Bible come even more alive to the coming generations and give them a greater comprehension of God’s Word and the saving gospel.

End-of-Year Matching Gift Challenge

It’s one thing to design and fabricate such a model with all that teaching, but quite another to be able to house it!

Many of our talented staff worked countless hours to come up with the best way to construct a building for this unique and powerful exhibit to fit in with the Ark attraction. In doing so, we realized that the placement of this building will also require us to move the drop-off area for the shuttle buses at the Ark. The current location was always a temporary solution, as the plan for the Ark Encounter involved building a welcome center and drop-off area so the rest of the park can be developed over time. Our designers, in conjunction with construction engineers and architects, came up with a plan to incorporate this building as part of the Welcome Center and permanent shuttle loading and unloading area. This is needed before we begin planning for the next possible big attraction, such as the Tower of Babel.

This Welcome Center and Jerusalem building will also mean we can finally move the ticketing area at the Ark parking lot (which has been operating out of temporary buildings) to the Welcome Center. It opens the way for the attraction’s future development and fulfills a major part of our beloved late Patrick Marsh’s overall plan for the Ark Encounter.

This is such a great way to fulfill Patrick’s plan: construct the permanent ticketing and shuttle loading/unloading area, put in a welcome center, and use the structure to house a powerful teaching exhibit that will impact generations to come and pave the way for the rest of the development of the Ark Encounter.

Last year, a foundation agreed to provide a matching gift challenge to help raise the funds for a number of items, including the Jerusalem model. Our supporters took up the challenge and matched this! So now, the Welcome Center, Conservatorium, and Eden Teaching Center at the Creation Museum, as well as the Children’s Zoo at the Ark Encounter, are all underway (or opened).

Now for this year, the cost to construct the Jerusalem model building and Welcome Center at the Ark will be around $20 million. The foundation that provided matching grants in the past and another generous supporter—after being approached with this new project and understanding how important it is and seeing how AiG supporters have responded in the past—agreed to provide a matching gift challenge where each gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar for the first $8.5 million given to this project through the end of the year. This is a tremendous matching gift commitment and is so important for the future and for impacting coming generations with the truth of God’s Word and the saving gospel.

I’m so grateful for your prayers and support—as I shared above, they are important to enabling us to impact coming generations with the truth of God’s history book to us, his holy Word, and the saving gospel. Thank you in advance for prayerfully considering how you can help in this great opportunity through the end-of-year matching gift challenge. And remember, your gift of any size will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $8.5 million through the end of the year!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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