Presumably, about six months ago, someone reading this blog post made some New Year’s resolutions. Again, presumably, one of those resolutions may have been something like:
“I’m going to read the WHOLE Bible in 2017!”
“I’m going to at least read MORE of the Bible this year than I did last year.”
And, presumably, some of you have been successful; but, presumably, some of you have been…not so successful. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Was Bible reading even on your radar when you made New Year’s resolutions?
Well, being that we’re approaching the halfway mark of 2017, I’d like to remind you that it’s never too late to intentionally spend more time in Scripture. You might be hard-pressed to read the WHOLE Bible in the remaining 190ish days of 2017; but here are a few suggestions of what you CAN read before the ball drops for 2018.
- Read the Old Testament
There are 928 chapters, making up 39 books of the Old Testament. If you start now, reading five chapters per day of the Old Testament, you can finish in December. This would certainly be a challenge; but reading five chapters per day should only take 30 minutes or so. Reading the Old Testament (especially when you’re already familiar with how the story picks up in the New Testament) can be both enlightening and encouraging for Christians today. It’s a shame that we’re so often guilty of neglecting this glorious section of Spirit-inspired Scripture.
- Read Wisdom Literature
“Wisdom Literature” is how many Biblical scholars classify Job, The Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations in the Old Testament. There are 247 chapters in the Wisdom Literature; meaning you could read just under two chapters per day, Monday through Friday, and finish before the year is over. These writings were an indispensable part of Israel’s corporate and private worship both before Jesus, and during the time of Jesus’s ministry.
- Read the New Testament
This is the one everyone is most interested in! There are 260 chapters in the New Testament, meaning you could take the same approach as the Wisdom Literature and finish right on time. These are likely the stories you’re most familiar with; however, the good news of Jesus’s birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return is a story that never gets old. I’d suggest a reading plan something like this:
A gospel, followed by Acts, followed by three or so letters of Paul, followed by two or so letters from someone other than Paul (Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, and Revelation). If you repeat this four times (once for each Gospel – only reading Acts the first round, of course), you’ll get a well-balanced diet of different New Testament writings.
This reading strategy has worked well for me over the past several years. The only rule is that you can’t complain if you procrastinate and get bogged down in Revelation come December!
To sum it all up, it’s never too late to start reading Scripture in 2017 – even if your Bible has gathered dust for the past six months. And while Bible-reading may feel very much like a duty or discipline at moments, take it from me – spending time in Scripture is ultimately life-giving and heart-shaping. We don’t read Scripture to try and improve our standing with God, or impress the people around us. We read because Scripture is God’s primary means of revealing his character to us. And what better use of time is there than getting to know your Creator?