A few years ago, I embarked on something I wanted to do for a long time (and attempted and failed on several occasions!) – read all the way through the Bible. A new Bible and study had just been published called The Bible in 90 Days by Ted Cooper and it seemed like the perfect opportunity and tool to make it happen. Surely I could stick with it for ninety days! There were other people on the journey with me and we met each week to talk about what we’d read and how it was going. A lot of the stories were very familiar, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Joseph and his brothers, and Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.
As I read through Genesis and Exodus, I confess I was feeling a bit smug. Surely I in all my wisdom would have made different choices, better choices. Take a bite of the apple? No, thank you. Whine about not having meat or cucumbers when God is providing me with meals in the desert? Never!
Reading through the Bible at that pace doesn’t allow much time for understanding and application, so once I wrapped up my ninety days and took a brief hiatus, I decided to go through the Bible again, this time reading just one chapter a day. This time I used an app – the NIV Study Bible app, which has all kinds of fancy features and study notes and I enjoyed it so much, I started over again once I got through Revelation.
As I reread all the familiar stories, I started to see some similarities between me and the people I was reading about and I had to rethink my holier than thou attitude. When I know better than to do something, when I’ve been warned, do I believe lies that convince me to do something I know I shouldn’t? Something that will harm me? The truth is, I’ve taken quite a few bites of the apple in my lifetime. And what about being ungrateful, not appreciating all that I’ve been given? Yup, I’m guilty of that, too.
One thing hasn’t changed over thousands of years, and that one thing is human nature. I was created – God’s masterpiece! And yet I spend time thinking of all the ways I don’t measure up, I don’t do the things that I want to do and do the things I hate (Romans 15:7), I whine about the things that are wrong in my life, completely forgetting to count the hundreds of blessings I experience daily, and I’m just so busy, I can’t possibly do things to help people who are in need.
It took over three years to read through the Bible at that pace, and another three years to do it again, but I found that I understood more and more, could relate to the people and the stories, and developed a desire to be and act more like Jesus, to care about the things he cares about, to start to live a different kind of life. In November I started over again, this time using the Quest Study Bible, which is full of answers to all kinds of questions I’ve had for years!
Today I was reading about protection of property and social responsibility in Exodus 22. What struck me about the chapter was that God cares about justice and wants us to take care of each other. Sure, the actual text is hard to relate to in our modern world – all that talk of donkeys, oxen and sheep, but the meaning is clear. We need to be responsible for our actions, own up to our mistakes and make things right. We shouldn’t take advantage of others that are less fortunate, but strive to make sure those people that live on the margins are protected.
Maybe you’re thinking, well, everyone knows that, this is not a new idea or revelation. Yes, we know it, but what are we – what am I doing to remind myself? As much as I like to view myself as a good person, I get caught up in day to day stuff, my day to day stuff, and I’m far too busy to think about what it takes to make a positive contribution to the world. The only thing that keeps it in the forefront of my mind, is to take the time to read a chapter every day.
How about you? Have you ever read through the Bible? Could you relate to the characters? I’d love to hear about your experience either on Facebook or by leaving a comment!