On Reading the Bible
Last year I read through the Bible using the ESV translation. Actually I only finished yesterday, because I fell behind while I was out of town over Christmas. But the main thing is to be reading the Bible every day, or nearly every day. If you don’t read the Bible all the way through then there are passages that you will never read and on which you will never hear a sermon. Granted, some of those passages are tedious to read because they include long genealogies or detailed descriptions of the temple construction (confession: I skim read some of those passages). But there are many other seldom read passages that challenge us in important ways. All of Scripture is God’s word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
People often say that the “OT God” is judgmental and the “NT God” is loving. I wonder if they have ever read Revelation. Have they not heard about God’s patience for many generations before He finally sent Israel and then Judah into captivity? Do they not know about the wonderful promises in Isaiah of future restoration and blessing?
I think that the OT prophets are probably the most neglected portion of Scripture. We feel bewildered by the frequent references to ancient nations, cities and events. But the overall message of the prophets is very relevant for us today. As I read through the Bible in 2009 I was struck by the importance of the prophets, so beginning in February of last year I gave a short sermon series on the Message of the Prophets.
The basic message of the prophets is:
- You have broken the covenant and had better repent!
- If you don’t repent then you will face judgment!
- Yet there is still hope for future restoration!
This points the way to the Gospel. God desires a relationship with us, but we have sinned and deserve His judgment. He has provided the way of salvation in the death and resurrection of Christ. We must repent and believe to be saved. Those who do not repent and believe still face God’s judgment.
Of course this is only one example. There is great benefit to reading the other often neglected portions of Scripture as well. We are at the beginning of a new year, so I encourage you to commit yourself to reading through the entire Bible this year. There are many Bible reading plans on line such as the one on Biblestudytools.com. Last year I used our CFC Bible reading plan, which includes an OT and a NT reading each day. This year I am simply reading straight through.
If you can’t quite finish it in one year, that is fine. Take a year and a half, or two years. But start reading today!
Have you read through the entire Bible? How did it impact you? What encouragement can you give to those who are considering making this commitment?