From Beginning to End
Almost exactly four years ago, I determined I would read the Bible through – starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation, from Old Testament to New Testament, in order.
Despite being raised in the church and being a Christian for most of my adult life, I’d never done that before. I’ve read a lot of some of the books of the Bible, but some of them I’d never even opened. I’ve faithfully attended several services a week in churches all over the country most of my life, and heard sermons preached from several different books of the Bible, but, again, some books were never opened.
So, one night, I went to the Christian Book Store and bought a brand new, New King James Version Bible. This is my preferred version to read. Research has led me to the conclusion that it is the best version to read at this time.
The reading was kind of hard going at first. I determined to read every single morning for thirty minutes. But, I found myself getting caught up in study notes and research about what I read, and would often only get through two or three chapters. As of June of this year, I’d made it halfway to Psalms.
[Side note: I also started highlighting every passage on which a preacher preaches — it’s been interesting to see what passages get preached on over and over again by different pastors all over the country.]
I also carry a “purse Bible” with me, and whenever I am at a doctor’s office waiting room, dentist office waiting room, or picking kids up from somewhere and waiting for them, I read the New Testament in that Bible. I’d made it through to about mid-Acts.
That’s not a lot of progress in nearly four years, I realize. But, I told myself I wasn’t in a race, and I just simply wanted to get through to the end.
Last year, Gregg got me The Word of Promise Bible — an audio Bible that is presented by dozens of professional actors (Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Richard Dreyfuss as Moses, Gary Sinise as David, Jason Alexander as Joseph, Marisa Tomei as Mary Magdalene, Stacy Keach as Paul, Louis Gossett, Jr. as John, Jon Voight as Abraham, Marcia Gay Harden as Esther, Joan Allen as Deborah, Max von Sydow as Noah, and Malcolm McDowell as Solomon, etc.) with sound affects and an accompanying score. I burned it to mp3 and loaded it onto my iPod. I didn’t really do anything with it until this past June.
In June, I started walking every morning. I walk for 1 hour – for 4 miles. For an hour every day, six days a week, I listen to my Bible. Since June, I’ve listened to starting at mid-Psalms, and just finished the end of Revelation yesterday.
I did it. I ‘read’ through the entire Bible.
I’m back in Genesis now, and listening to it. I am getting SO MUCH MORE out of hearing it than I ever did out of reading it, and I love that.
Here are my thoughts after completing the entire Bible:
- Reading the Old Testament completely changed my faith. I was getting it all wrong. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the same God in Genesis, in Leviticus, in Isaiah, in Judges, in Matthew, in Acts, and in Revelation. HE hasn’t changed, no matter how much our society has.
- Reading the New Testament, as a whole, immediately following the Old Testament, did not affect that change. In fact, it completely validated the way I felt and the way I viewed my Christianity.
- The “church” – that is the people who follow the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ the son of God, and the Holy Spirit — the church as a whole, isn’t really that Biblically based and is doing a lot of things that are “of the world” and not found in the Bible at all. Conversely, they seem to be ignoring a lot of things that are in the Bible that tend to go against the traditions of the world. Francis Chan said it best in a video I saw of him. Francis asked this question: If he was born and raised on a deserted island with nothing but a Bible, had only read about the New Testament church yet had never seen a church, would he recognize his own institution he was leading as being remotely similar to what he read about in the New Testament? He came to the conclusion that he would not recognize his own church system as being even remotely similar to what he read about in the scriptures. After my reading of the Bible, cover-to-cover, I would have to enthusiastically concur.
- Judges is kind of like the Kill Bill of the Bible. I wasn’t prepared for the extent of the violence and wickedness of man. As I ponder society today, I remember that”there’s nothing new under the sun.”
- God asked us to remember the feasts. Christ observed the feasts, and encouraged us to continue in them. Even Paul, the modern church’s poster boy to excuse the Old Testament as “irrelevant” observed the feasts. I find it fascinating how we don’t do that at all, as a church as a whole. I don’t understand how Hannukah (The Feast of Dedication – John 10:22-39) became Christmas and how Passover became Easter, except to say that Satan wants to destroy our relationship with God.
- There’s a song that we sing in church that has these lyrics:
This is my desire to honor you, Lord with all my heart I worship you. All I have within me; I give You praise; All that I adore is in You…Lord I give you my heart; I give you my soul; I live for you alone. Every breath that I take; Every moment I’m awake; Lord have Your way in me.I sing that song to myself constantly, a way to voice my desire to please God and to live my life entirely for Him. As I reached the end of the New Testament and think about Christ’s words and the words of the apostles that followed after Him, I realize that I don’t do it fractionally enough.
- God said in Deuteronomy 6:5 that the greatest commandment was: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” But, He follows that up with, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. I don’t think we, as families that comprise the church body as a whole, do that to the extent that we might ought. I think if we did, a lot of problems facing churches today would not be there anymore.
- In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said the greatest commandment was, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” I don’t think we, as a church body, do either of those to the extent that we ought.
I can’t wait to read/listen to it again and again and again. My dad wrote me a letter from Korea when I was 18 and said, “Don’t wait until you’re my age to study the Bible. I am just now getting into it and I will never live long enough to learn everything I want to learn.” He was just a few years older than I am now. I listened and tried to do what he suggested, but I didn’t really “get” it until now.
Have you ever sat down and read the Bible, cover-to-cover?
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