In my last post, I wrote about my first successful venture in reading through the Bible in a year. I have read and studied the Bible for as long as I can remember, but there were a few books in there that I’d never read all the way through, and I’d never even come close to reading through the whole thing in a year. But with a few new tricks (as mentioned in my last post) and a stronger determination, I finally accomplished my goal.
Last time, I talked about what I did and what I learned through the actual reading process. But I didn’t have time to talk about the best part: the highlights of the actual content that I learned.
What I Learned: Notes on the Content
1. Despite having previously read through most parts of the Bible dozens of times, reading through the whole thing in a (relatively) short span of time helped so much with understanding the context of various Scriptures and how they relate to one another. It’s kind of like the difference between watching several episodes of a TV show as they come out (and sometimes out of order when you miss one), and binge watching the whole season in an afternoon. The plot of the story fits together and makes much more sense when seen as a whole rather than as many component parts.
As one example, getting through all those religious requirements in Leviticus and Deuteronomy may be a little rough, but it really helps to understand the background when you get to the conflict between the law and the grace of the Gospel in the New Testament. It also brings more depth of meaning to the concept of Jesus’ sacrifice “once for all” (Heb. 10:10) when you see all the sacrifices that the Jews were once required to make.
2. I could also more easily pick out the themes that were being emphasized. Again, it can be easy to get lost in the details, but when taking more of an overview approach, it’s easier to notice the things that are repeated over and over. For instance, I don’t think I’d really noticed before just how frequently Jesus rebuked and debated with the Jewish religious leaders. Yet this interaction is a huge part of what makes up the four gospels!
3. I could see more easily the truly amazing grace and patience of God. Yes, there are many examples of times He brought down His wrath upon sinful and rebellious people, but so much more abundant are the times when He was merciful. This patience is especially clear in His treatment of His chosen people, Israel. The Israelites are often described as being hard-headed, and boy, did this become clear! Picture it this way:
- God brings His chosen people out of Egypt with wondrous signs, and they immediately start complaining.
- A short time later, Moses goes up to Mount Sinai for a few weeks, and by the time he gets back, the Israelites are already worshiping a man-made god and saying this is who brought them out of Egypt! (What?!)
- They test God’s patience time and time again in the desert, and finally He sentences the older generation to die without seeing the Promised Land.
- The new nation of Israel rises, but quickly begins to fall into sin once again.
- God sends prophet after prophet to warn them, and more often than not, they refuse to listen.
- When He sends His Son, they hate Jesus so much that they kill him. And yet, the whole thing is just a working out of His plan to save these stubborn, rebellious children. Wow.
I wish I could say we are better than this, but I know in our nature we are just the same. That is sobering—both in the sense that God could love us that much, and in the sense that we must truly be diligent to repent and obey lest we suffer the consequences.
There are so many more details I could share, but I will leave it at these basics. The ultimate point is that I learned a good deal more than I ever thought I would, primarily just by reading a very familiar book more regularly, and all the way through in a shorter span of time. As I mentioned in my last post, I feel it’s helped me to understand the Word and teach it to my children better than ever before. In our Bible reading this last month, I felt able to explain several passages we read together that had never made much sense to me before. It’s crazy what a difference 20 minutes or so of study per day can make over the course of a year!
I’m sure many of you have already read through the Bible in a year and are wondering why I haven’t done it sooner. To you I say: Better late than never, I guess! And to those who may have considered or attempted this goal and never actually done it, I would say, . . . well, . . . the same thing! It’s not too late to give it another try.
And to those who know they simply aren’t in a season of life where reading through the Bible in a year is a manageable goal, I would still encourage you to make an effort to get in the Word more regularly this year. A little bit is better than nothing, and over time, it still adds up to a lot. If you are worried about your ability to be consistent, trust me—I am probably one of the least likely people ever to stick with something like this. If I can do it, you can do it.
As I think about it, this mindset could probably be applied to many different goals. So, let’s get going on some 2019 resolutions! Happy New Year, everyone!
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