At the beginning of 2015, I set out on a quest to read through the entire Bible in a year. I chose to try and read the text chronologically, and to blog my thoughts each day. Unfortunately, about halfway through the year I had to step aside from that quest due to an increased load at work and a variety of events taking place at home. I intend on picking up where I left off and to continue that journey through Scripture however long possible during 2016, so be on the lookout for that in the New Year. We will see how far we can make it through Scripture next year.
I wanted to share a few thoughts on what that journey through Scripture earlier in the year taught me. Hopefully these thoughts will help you consider embarking on your own walk through Scripture.
1. All parts fit into the larger whole. It is often tempting to take apart Scripture thematically or to split it into two unrelated halves. This approach presents itself for instance when we study something like sin and salvation. The temptation is to race to Romans without first establishing why sin is an issue, something that can only be done by rooting oneself in Genesis for a time. The underlying message of redemption weaves its way through all of Scripture. Even when reading the Old Testament prophetic books or those seemingly boring chapters in Leviticus on how God wanted His people to deal with skin rashes, one can note the flow of the promise of redemption. Never neglect the greater whole in your zeal to engage the specific parts of Scripture.
2. The more you read the Bible, the more you discover. I have been reading Scripture since I was a young lad. Now I am not the oldest feller on the block as I am only 42. But over the years, be it in Sunday School as a child or attending Seminary as an adult or be it simply reading a passage I have read 50 times before, there is always something new that jumps off the page. There are connections that can be made and lessons learned anew which proves God’s Word is active and pierces down to the innermost parts of our lives.
3. God’s Word is never boring. Arguably, the part of Scripture where most become derailed on their yearly Bible reading journey is the books of the law with Leviticus likely being the greatest stop off point. This used to happen to me as well. Either I stopped reading or I hurried through that part of Scripture so I could get to the action packed books of Joshua and Judges. Even Ruth was often considered boring as it was in the way of getting to the story of David and Goliath. It was not until I took the time to walk verse by verse through Ruth that I discovered the aforementioned reality – the message of redemption is woven through every single book of the Bible. Paying attention to that truth helped me realize that the dietary laws and the seemingly endless chapters on the sacrificial system are not boring. They play an important part in the greater message God reveals to us in His Word.
4. There is great value in setting aside the commentaries and simply reading the Bible. I have written on this issue several times before; however, I feel it is important to state yet again the value in simply reading Scripture and setting aside the commentaries for a bit. Keep handy a quality Bible dictionary and a concordance and use the tools provided in a good study Bible. Let God speak to you through the Holy Spirit and be a diligent workman. Don’t let others do your thinking for you right off the bat when it comes to the more difficult (or even easier) passages. Do the hard work of reading, meditating, making the needed connections, and most importantly, applying the truth of Scripture to your life.
5. Application is key. Head knowledge is not what reading the Bible is all about. We are to hide God’s Word in our hearts so that it permeates our life in order for its truths to be reflected in how we think, speak, and live. One can know all the intricacies and can be able to give a talk on all the really cool nerdy aspects of Scripture yet fail to know anything about Scripture. Seem conflicting? Not really. There is a difference between knowing and knowing God. We can know His Word in the academic sense, yet fail to know Him in the relational sense. When we read Scripture, look at it as God having a conversation with you. In your zeal to dig into the specifics, don’t forget that in the end, the more we know about Scripture the closer it should draw us to a deeper relationship with our Creator.
God’s word is never dull. The more I read it the more exciting it becomes and the more I want to learn about it, and the more I want to share with others what I am learning. As we get closer to 2016, I encourage you to begin thinking about how you will embark on your own journey through Scripture next year. There is no requirement to get through the whole thing in a year. Perhaps you might want to do a little biblical theology and trace a theme wherever it leads you in Scripture. You could root yourself in a book you have never read before such as that long forlorn Habakkuk. Maybe you might want to study a particular individual in Scripture such as Abraham, David, or Peter. There are a number of approaches one can take. The most important thing is that you do something besides letting your Bible sit on the coffee table or bookshelf, only to be removed on Sunday mornings as part of your church outfit. Make it a part of your daily life for it is food for our souls and is an unending well of living water to those who will take the time to eat and drink from it.