Reflections on the New Year
Happy New Year! I don’t usually make a big deal about New Year’s Day because it seems like a rather arbitrary line in the sands of time. But the solar year is about 365.25 days long, so we need to set some point at which to acknowledge that we are beginning another year. There are of course other places to draw the line. Both the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and Chinese New Year are based on the lunar calendar.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to look back on the past year and look forward to the new one. I’m not very big on New Year’s resolutions, but one thing that I plan to continue this year is my daily Bible reading. On Dec. 31 I finished reading the Bible in 2009, and on Jan. 1 I began my 2010 trek through the Bible. This year I am doing my reading in the ESV Bible.
Reading the Bible on a consistent basis is essential for a healthy spiritual life. You will never grow into a mature Christian without regularly taking in the spiritual food of God’s word. If you have never read through the entire Bible, why not make 2010 the year in which you change that? The plan that we are using in my church can be downloaded here. In this plan we read something from both the OT and NT every day. The chart on the web site is marked 2009, but actually you can use it for any non-leap year.
Consistent Bible reading is a habit well worth forming. The first thing that I did on NewYear’s Day was to begin my 2010 reading. It gave me a good feeling to get the new year started in the right way. If you read the Bible every day for several months it can become a regular habit, and you will feel that something is missing if you don’t do your reading on a particular day. I’m not talking about guilt resulting from a legalistic approach, but rather the feeling of missing out on something familiar and enjoyable.
The first time you read through the Bible you will find some things that are difficult to understand. After you have read it through three or four times you will find it much less difficult. By the time you have read it through 15 or 20 times it will be like an old friend.
If you are just beginning to read the Bible I have some suggestions for you:
- Remember that some things will be unfamiliar to you. After you have read through the Bible a few times it will be easier to understand what is going on. You will begin to see the connections between different parts of Scripture. The description of the new temple in Ezekiel is reminiscent of Exodus, and the end times prophecy in Daniel is closely related to Revelation. Today’s reading in Matthew quotes a verse in Micah that I read last week.
- Feel free to skim quickly over the long genealogies or detailed descriptions of the construction of the temple. These might be worth careful study at some point, but don’t feel guilty if you want to skim over them at this point.
- Try to understand individual passages in the context of the over-arching story of the Bible: Creation–Fall–Redemption.
- Don’t give up if you fall behind. Reading the Bible in one year is a great goal, but the most important thing is to read it. If it takes you 1.5 or 2 years to get through the Bible that is fine. Just read it!
Why not make 2010 the year in which you finally read the entire Bible? If you have already read through the Bible, why not do it again?