Each year, we start over again at the beginning. We read the fifty books of Genesis, before sitting in sackcloth on ashes with Job. For six years now, I’ve joined various friends around the country in reading through the Bible chronologically each year; that is in the order scholars can best determine the events took place.
I’m a church girl, accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior at seven years old. A few short years later, I immersed myself in Bible drills, followed by Bible quizzing. I’ve always been in Sunday School, and taught my first class as a teenager. I had no idea how much of the Bible I did not know. When I picked up a copy of the chronological Bible at a garage sale, I thought it might be interesting. I didn’t know it would be life transforming. Here are five ways reading the Bible chronologically each year has taught this Bible-thumping girl a thing or two.
My faith grows as I see God in a bigger way.
Reading God’s Story every year, I see a Creator who is always in charge. He demands holiness, because it’s the only way we can rightly fellowship with him. It takes nine months to read through the Old Testament, so Jesus doesn’t enter our Bible readings until September (we joke that’s the month of our Advent). We know he’s coming, though, and as you read through each of the stages of Israelite history, we say again and again, people really need Jesus. God knew this all along. He still knows this.
I’m still learning new names of faithful believers.
Anyone who has attempted to read through the Bible often gets tripped up over the lists of names. I’m still not an expert, but it gets easier! I’ve come across family rivalries that span thousands of years, left-handed Benjamin warriors and fathers who only had daughters, leaving them pleading their case before Moses over their birthright. In the New Testament, you start to recognize the names of Paul’s companions, leaders in the early church. Names like Tychicus, Nympha, Onesimus and Junia became meaningful to me.
Mundane details might seem mundane at first but they point to a God of order.
Again, I consider the big picture of what I read each year. God cares about details. He gave precise measurements for pieces like the Ark, Tabernacle and Temple. In the New Testament, Jesus showed great emotion for every person who came in his path, regardless of their social status or ethnicity. The son never questioned the Father’s timing. Oh, how I love to read about the detailed descriptions, for if God cares so much about these things, he must be intimately involved in the details of my own life as well.
I have a renewed curiosity about the context of these stories.
Sure, there are a plethora of stories that don’t seem to fit our time and place. I’m always looking up various cities, tribal names, lists of judges and kings and prophets in order. What cultural differences still exist today affecting our ability to understand Scripture? The gaps do start to lessen in my understanding of the Bible’s timeline, although I will never understand it fully. Not this side of glory.
Reading with a group holds us accountable.
There are a variety of ways a person could read their Bible on a daily basis. What has worked best in my case is reading it each morning after I put my daughter on the bus. I can read the passages in about 15 minutes, unless I get going on a research tangent. I participate in an online group (we never meet in person) of 175 people who read through the chronological Bible as well. Sometimes one of us will get behind, and we encourage her to catch up. Some people join us for the New Testament at first, but they almost always stick around to read through the whole Bible the following year. Above all, we always remind one another, any time at all spent in God’s word is time well spent.