For the past few years my “Sunday School" knowledge of the Bible has served me well. My daily scripture readings have mostly been random and chosen because I was seeking a particular story or answer or renewing a memory of something read long ago. However, this year I made the decision to read the Bible from start to finish. And though I’m only in Romans and the end is a few weeks away, I have come to a few conclusions that might have eluded my understanding if I had continued to read in an unsystematic manner.
1. There are passages, chapters, perhaps even books that we would never read if they were not part of the greater story of the Bible. I could totally do without 1 Kings 4 and large portions of Job and Isaiah. I struggled through Lamentations. I have favorite books and passages just like anyone else. I love the popular stories that are told and retold in Sunday School. But the boring stuff, like the list of Solomon’s officials and governors, is necessary for the truth and accuracy of the overall account.
2. People have always been ignorant, lazy, selfish, lustful, violent, rebellious, unreliable, dishonest, immoral and easily led astray. Many of the stories we use in SS for teaching our children and converts are stories about the leaders, disciples, and champions of the faith. Unless we read the “rest of the story” we can forget that many, many people were involved in wars, crimes, and idolatry. There are far more sinners than saints in the Bible. Reading about them is a good reminder that there is really nothing new under the sun.
3. Reading the forgotten, unfamiliar and difficult passages is a challenge. Dragging through the names and events in Judges makes me think and ponder and seek assistance. I think I could read it three times and still not understand more than the gist of it. However, referring to a good commentary makes the history a little easier to follow.
4. There are tiny bits of knowledge and truth that we will overlook if we don’t occasionally read ALL of the Bible. There are minor prophets and brief events that are important in the whole scheme of things. Everything is in the Bible for a reason and if we just read and re-read our favorite stories and select verses we are in danger of missing a message or a blessing.
So…I will continue my reading until I reach the last page. I’ll try to keep my focus on the big picture while seeking God’s message for me. I’m not sure what I will do next year. Perhaps I’ll study Lamentations…not.