Shortly after the new year, I began reading through the Bible again. Though there are many “read through the Bible in a year plans” out there, I avoided all of them because they do not have you reading through the Bible in order. There are many reasons why the scriptures are organized as they are but the most important for Christians is that the whole Bible tells a story. Even though we know the end of the story, it is still much more powerful to read the story from the beginning to the end. However, it is not easy!
The Bible was written by so many different people who experienced God in various ways and were influenced by their life and world experiences. It was edited over and over again before being finalized. Since my Hebrew and Greek skills are limited, I am reading it in English. No matter what translation you use, something is always lost in translation. There are many types of literature all in one book, all trying to tell the story of our Creator reaching out to have a relationship with us.
I have invited the members of my church and my friends on Facebook to join me. But I did warn them about reading the Bible. When you actually read everything that is in this book, you will be confused, amazed, offended, hopeful, angry, energized, baffled, and refreshed all at different times. The Word of God is powerful. It changes us if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our reading.
After almost completing the Pentateuch, the first five book of the Bible, let me tell you just a few reflections and changes I have encountered. At moments I am terrified by God. In modern culture, we have lost the fear of God. I preach the grace and love of God through Christ week after week, but I am reminded that we do not need God’s grace unless we understand our sinfulness and our fragility. God could and almost does wipe us off the face of the earth in the flood. God could have wiped out the Hebrew people over night while they were wandering for forty years in the wilderness. God has the power to end human life today – mine, yours, or everyone’s lives! But God does not. God keeps seeking to have a relationship with us. Our Creator, like us, longs to return to the time of intimate connect that the Garden of Eden offered. In the Bible and today, God keeps promises made to humans no matter what!!
After reading about Moses leadership, I remember that I have nothing to complain about. Moses gives God excuse after excuse about why he cannot lead the Israelites out of Egypt, yet he is called to do it and does it. But he is the one who listens to the people grumble as he suffers with them. He is also the one who knows God’s angry and frustration with the people. Moses argues for God’s people over and over, yet the people disrespect Moses and some even try to rebel against him. After a long and trying ministry, Moses is told in no uncertain terms that he can only overlook the Promised Land but can never cross the Jordan River to stand on it! Honestly, it makes me mad at God for treating this faithful servant this way and angry at the Israelites for not trusting in their Creator and putting Moses in this position. But it also makes me so thankful for the ministry God has blessed me with. I have had many challenges over the years but I have also seen many great promises of God in the life of the Church and in my own life. Moses reminds me not to whine about the difficulty of being a pastor. We all have it very easy! We are also blessed with the Holy Spirit guiding us and helping us see the love of Christ throughout our daily lives.
If you have never read the Bible or have not in a long time, join us and start reading. It will challenge and frustrate you, but the Word of God will also transform you. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like my Bible reading schedule!