December 26, 2006

Wow! That's in the Bible?

‘I never noticed that before’ someone recently told me. She had been reading the book of Genesis and noticed for the first time that, after Adam and Eve sinned, God had covered them with animal skins—the first animal sacrifice; and a foreshadowing of the One who would give his life once and for all to cover our sins. ‘I’ve read that passage dozens of times,’ she said, ‘but never saw that before.’

Isn’t that great? Even for an experienced Bible reader, the word of God is always living and active! There is always something new to learn. That’s not because the word changes. And it is definitely not because, as so many people say: ‘Two people can read the same passage and get two totally different things out of it.’ No, No. The Bible, and each of its passages, has one concrete meaning. But each time we go to it, we do have the opportunity to notice things we skimmed over before; to discover personal applications we had ignored before; and, for some of us, to read portions of the Scriptures we’ve never read before—talking donkeys, ladies driving tent pegs through people’s heads, and prophets walking around naked as a sermon illustration! There is a lot in there that some of us have never seen!

But, seasoned veteran or first-time reader, every time we go to the Bible, there is the chance for the wow factor! Why? Because God reveals Himself most clearly through this Book—and whenever we see God, we inevitably say ‘Wow!’ So let me urge you, as I do our congregation every year at this time, to get yourself into the Bible on a regular basis. Give yourself the chance to experience the wow of encountering God on a daily basis. Here are a few suggested plans…

The Old Testament in a year. If there was ever a place where we might experience the wow factor, it might be the Old Testament. First, because many of us are so unfamiliar with it. And second because the stories are so amazing—filled with the miraculous, the ironic, the majestic, and even the humorous works of God. If you committed to read two chapters a day, you could read the Old Testament by the end of 2007.

The New Testament in a year. I think it helps to take the New Testament slowly. There is so much to mine—sometimes from just a single sentence or two with its clauses, sub-clauses, and so on. So if you just read one chapter a day, you could have the New Testament read by early fall, and still have several weeks left to study one or more of its books more in-depth.

The meditation method. Take a single book with which you are more unfamiliar and resolve to read it through twenty time consecutively—whether you read a few verses at a time, or a chapter a day, or the whole book in one setting, or any combination of the above. It may be very beneficial to just swim in the waters of one single book for several months or the whole year…and then tackle another one when you finish.

The whole Bible in three years. If you studied a chapter a day, you could read the whole in just over three years.

So…what is the blogger going to do? I think I will read through the Old Testament this year…and at the same time practice the meditation method with some book from the New. Maybe Hebrews or Acts. What about you?

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