27 May The Bigger Picture
One benefit of living life at home this last while is that I have been able to spend a lot of time reading the Bible. I grew up knowing stories and verses from scripture, but it wasn’t until I entered Bible College in my early 20’s that I read through the Bible in its entirety and began to understand how it all works together. I have to say that experience changed everything for me and began to grow in me a love for God’s Word.
Although I have used different plans in the past, this year I have really enjoyed a five-day Bible reading plan. Everyday I am reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and often the Psalms, with the readings corresponding to one another. For instance, lately I have been reading about the life of David in 1 and 2 Samuel, then reading a Psalm which he would have written in response to a specific recorded event. When I was reading Genesis and Exodus, I was reading Hebrews as well, including its list of faithful Old Testament patriarchs in Hebrews 11. If you do not have a plan that you are currently using, I would recommend this one: https://fivedaybiblereading.com/. There is no better time to start than now. It doesn’t have to be the beginning of a new year to begin a new habit!
So why is reading the entirety of the Bible so important? You may be prone to reading the Bible randomly and most often from the New Testament. However, God wrote an entire book from Genesis to Revelation, and everything we read should be understood in light of this. If we read only chapter eight of a novel, we may get a glimpse of the author’s story, and the book will never have its full impact. In fact, most of us would never consider reading a book that way (although I have been known to read an ending before I am actually finished!).
And so it goes with the way we read the Bible.
First of all, we need to understand the New Testament in light of the Old Testament. Incidentally, Jesus knew the Old Testament very well and quoted from it seventy-eight times, including the Pentateuch (Genesis to Deuteronomy) twenty-eight times. If we do not have an understanding of these Old Testament books, we fail to have a complete understanding of what Jesus wanted to convey, as well as how much of the Old was fulfilled in the New.
Second, when we read a passage with no consideration of the context and bigger picture, we may not fully understand what we are reading. Yet if we begin with a view towards what came before and what followed after, it will undoubtedly have a greater impression on our hearts. When David pens “create in me a clean heart” in Psalm 51, after an adulterous affair recorded in 2 Samuel, we begin to truly see the great depths of God’s mercy and grace. And when Paul repeatedly writes “rejoice” in Philippians from a prison cell, that brings being joyful in spite of circumstances to a whole new level.
Last but certainly not least, Christ can be seen in all of it! Jesus is not alive only in the gospels. He is foreshadowed all throughout the Old Testament, in the Pentateuch, historical, poetical and prophetical books. He is an example to be followed and the One in whom we place our hope, as taught in the New Testament epistles. A very helpful book to get you thinking in this way is Christ from Beginning to End. I would urge you to check it out!
I am ever thankful for a church that is committed to preaching through the entirety of the Bible, one book at a time. If you have never started at Genesis, challenge yourself to start there soon! No doubt, along the way you may feel stuck or succumb to believing that it’s just too hard. Hang in there because I promise that the ending is spectacular!