Begin at the Beginning!
The first book of the bible, as you probably know, is Genesis. Most of us have heard the entire book, read it, and fairly well understand that it is the story of creation, Noah and the Ark and other “bible stories.” But beyond that, we tend to hesitate. The rest of the bible seems pretty hard to wrap our understanding around. It seems to be written in a language long ago extinct—too long-winded and with too many analogies and examples from centuries far in the past!
But I’m going to share with you an uncomplicated, logical way to work your way through the entire bible – or just one book – which is how I recommend you start! Pick a book—any book of the bible and then begin using the rules below.
Tools needed (besides your bible) include a pen or pencil and a notebook – inexpensive spiral notebook is what I would recommend – I have tons of half-written-in ones hanging around my house!
Always remember this rule: Read the Introduction to each book! In my bible, each introduction addresses the Title, Background (from a historical perspective), Author and Date of Writing, Theme and Message, Literary Features and Outlines. In my opinion, this is the only way to begin. Like anything, we need to have a perspective, a backdrop, in order to thoroughly understand the context of any writing – not just the bible.
And one other thing to remember: Always begin with prayer—that’s actually the first rule! A very simple prayer asking God to lead you and enlighten you to his God-breathed words, recorded for you long ago and waiting for you to discover them!
Nobody Ever Said You Have to Go In Order!
Begin with any book you want – and if in the introduction reference is made to specific happenings that especially spark your interest – you can begin in the middle, or anywhere else in the book!
Now comes the notebook and the pen or pencil. When you are reading scripture, the notes at the bottom (or along the side) of each page, are very helpful. Often they make reference to another bible passage. You guessed it! Write down the reference. When you’re done reading the current scripture (or right at that point—which is what I do!) go to that scripture.
So often, I have discovered the intricate and amazing connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament and also between various books of the Old Testament! That’s how it’s supposed to work, but I’m still always delighted when I discover it on my own!
Example: Isaiah 14:13 refers to a sacred mountain. My bible notes providing details about the sacred mountain direct me to see Psalm 48:1-2 and Psalm 48:2, where that mountain is considered to be Mount Casius, or Mount Zaphon (Ps 48:2)
If each book is read from the perspective of an action novel, it is much more engaging! Of course, the one thing that makes this book different from any other is that is the inspired word of God, who used ordinary people like us, to record His prophetic and everlasting words for us to live by.
So with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a curious mind, and a systematic approach, you can handle any passage, chapter or book the bible contains!
Good luck and happy reading!
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "(Matthew 4:4 NIV)