What I Learned from Reading the Bible

This year marks my second year reading through the Bible. Last year I started in the Matthew and read to Revelation and then made my way to Genesis through Malachi. I didn’t follow a reading plan but read at my own pace. This year I read from Genesis to Revelation and used The Bible Project Reading Plan. I read the ESV version this year compared to the NIV that I read last year.

Below are a few things I learned from reading the entire Bible again.

The connection between the Old and New Testaments. This was probably the biggest thing that I noticed this year. The passage that really helped me grasp the intensity of this connection was Matthew 27:46,  “that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the past I would have glanced over this passage but with further study and reading I learned that these words are the exact first words of Psalm 22. The next time you have a moment I encourage you to read Psalm 22 in context with Matthew 27:46. Jesus knew this Psalm was about him and was quoting it with his very last breaths. It seriously gives me chills because I have to wonder if those standing by the cross knew what passage he was quoting.

Psalm 22 begins, “Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The passage is so precise in the description of the events of Jesus and his death, in verse 16 of the psalm, “They have pierced my hands and feet.” And in verse 18, “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

The psalm begins as cry of agony but ends in a proclamation of triumph proclaiming the Lords righteousness and that all the ends of the earth shall worship before him. Seriously read Psalm 22 in the context of Matthew 27:46 and the death of Jesus on the cross.

Reading passages of scripture that are hard to understand and the long list of genealogies are worth it. When I came across passages of scripture I didn’t understand, instead of glossing over them, I decided to use them as an opportunity to deepen my own growth and understanding. Let me preface by saying, I didn’t do this with every passage of scripture I didn’t understand. If I had I would have never read past Leviticus this year, but when something piqued my interest I asked questions, looked for guidance from other believers who are more spiritually mature/knowledgable, and in the process discovered that grace goes a long way in these types of discussions. I am so appreciative of those who took time out of their schedule to meet with me this year and encourage me.

I also challenged myself to not gloss over the long lists of genealogies and names that are throughout scripture. It was tough sometimes to get through all those lists of names but when I did I was surprised to find that I recognized names and could remember how those people fit into the overarching storyline in the Bible.

Last year I discovered that I really enjoyed the Old Testament. And this year I geeked out on Revelation, a book I would have stayed away from in the past because what I thought I knew about it freaked me out. What I discovered was not a book that holds a secret code that allows believers to decipher the timeline of Jesus’s return but instead offers the promise that one day Jesus will return and permanently remove evil and make all things new.

God used my kids to show me how much I don’t know and to encourage my learning. My five year old asked me during our family devotion one morning who the 12 disciples were. I quickly got out a piece of paper and started to make my list. And you guys, it was so off. I had Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Judas. That was my list, only six, and one of them wasn’t even part of the 12.

On the same piece of paper I quickly jotted down the names of Santa’s reindeer and the all the seven dwarfs but could not name the 12 disciples. And the reality of the situation struck me. My knowledge was shaped by what I had been taught but also what I had chosen to spend my time learning.

Upon pulling out my ESV Study Bible I quickly discovered that Luke was in fact not one of the 12 disciples. I found in the gospels where the disciples are listed and read the names to my kids (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13-14) . While I still cannot list all the disciples names on a piece of paper from memory my list is now much more complete. Lesson learned. Don’t assume you know what you obviously don’t know and be humble in admitting this to others, even your children.

God’s word is slowly imbedding itself into every crevice of my life and at times this can be painful. Reading the Bible points out my own failures and causes me to once again kneel before God and surrender my own desires. The beautiful thing that is happening through reading scripture and knowing God and discovering his character is that God’s desires are becoming my own desires. And that is the beauty of scripture.

Gods word is active and alive and I want it to wreck me. To permeate every part of me so that I can know God and his character. The Bible shows over and over again that God is good and we are not.

Reading the Bible requires discipline. That is it. There is no magic plan just commitment and self-discipline to spend time in God’s word. If you are wanting to start reading the Bible check out The Bible Project or start in the New Testament. I have recently started Reading God’s Story: A Daily Chronological Bible which uses a six day a week reading plan to read through the entire Bible in 365 days. Whatever plan you decide to use just stick with it, I promise it is worth the time and effort.

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  1. Someone who used to smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union said to Christians in the USA, “I wish you Christians in the west had half as much faith in the power of the Bible as the Soviet leaders do. They don’t *agree* with it, but they have no doubt about its power. That’s why they try so hard to keep it out.”
    But the only way to let it have power over your life is to READ IT. I read two or three chapters every morning, every day.

  2. Carl Cohen says:

    Excellent post. I can really relate. This is my tenth year reading the Bible in a year. The same day that I read Psalm 22 this year, I had the opportunity to use it as an example with a Jewish family member of prophecy and how the Old and New Testaments are fully integrated. The Word of God never comes back void! (Isaiah 55:11)

    I also choose a different plan and translation each year. This year I read King James for the first time. I wrestled with the some of the ‘English’ but it was well worth the effort. Instead of the phrase ‘he remained silent’, the KJV translates it as ‘he held his peace’. This had a profound impact on me when I read the account of Jesus’ trial by the Sanhedrin. During the ‘trial’ Jesus knew exactly what lay ahead for Him, yet He held His peace. (Matthew 26:63) I thought about that a lot when I read Col. 3:15. Col. 3:15 has always been a source of strength and comfort for me. Thinking about it in context of the KJV translation took my understanding to a whole new level.

    I pray God blesses you with deeper insight as you pursue Him through His Word.

  3. Thank you for sharing your journey and encouraging others along the way! You are an inspiration!

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