I am on day fifty-two of a ninety day, read the entire Bible plan, and I think it’s a good time to check in, because it’s been a crazy experience.
The plan breaks the reading into three parts daily, and you simply read the three sets of verses for each day, for ninety days. Easy! It starts on Genesis 1, Job, and Matthew, and you read small parts from each section everyday. For anyone who doesn’t know the anatomy of the Bible, Genesis, Job, and Matthew are the beginning, middle(ish), and (endish) of the Bible. So on the last day of reading, I will just be about to get back to Job (from Genesis) and Matthew (from Job).
As I said, I am on day 52, and so I’m more than halfway done, but it kind of feels like I haven’t made much physical progress. I can see that I have, though, and I love being able to cross off a days reading, because that really keeps me motivated.
The hardest part by far are the tedious Old Testament readings. Deuteronomy and Leviticus, which are almost useless for modern Christians, were an absolute mud-slog. The key to getting the most out of reading the old rules and rites is to understand how Jesus changed things, and how Jews were brought up to think. I remember when I was younger, and even when I read the New Testament during Lent, my bewilderment at how close-minded the Jews of Jesus’ time were –especially the Pharisees and Sadducees. The thing is though, they were behaving exactly the way the Jewish law dictated they should. The Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament) reiterates and stresses the need to avoid unclean food, distance yourself from sinners, make very public sacrifices, observe class-based and racial segregations, and focus on the letter of the law. For hundreds of years, it was doing those things that made people “good Jews.” Then, Jesus is born and begins to claim that he is the Messiah that they have all been waiting for –the God Incarnate that will vindicate the Jewish people and all of Israel and get retribution against their oppressors. Jesus then begins to do the exact opposite of what they expected. He BROKE all the laws they prided themselves on following to the tee; in fact, he claimed that they no longer mattered, what He said was law. You can begin to see why they called Jesus a blasphemer. It’s like waiting for a basketball player to come along who will resurrect the Indianna Pacers. One day, a player joins the team claiming to be the player that will win them the Championship. Except, instead of playing normally, he claims that all of the rules of the game are wrong and outdated, and he begins to teach new rules and play under them. He creates 4-point shots and travels incessantly; he runs out-of-bounds and hides the ball under his shirt. All the Indiana fans get mad and claim that all their excitement was for nought–the man is a farce! They clamor to have him kicked out of the league, but people begin to like the new rules of the game, and claim that they are better than the old rules.That makes the Indiana fans more mad! They just want someone to win them a Championship with the old rules! The man tries to convince the Indiana fans that they can’t win under the old laws–they need to change the rules or they will never win. Then the fans kill him.
That was an odd allegory of how Jesus appeared to the Jews of the time. The point, or a point, of reading the Old Testament for Christians is to understand the state of mind the Jewish faithful had when Jesus came. The plan does a good job of having you reading passages simultaneously that relate to each other, especially with the ancient laws. A cornerstone of the faith of the Israelites in the Old Testaments were sacrifices, and they had a very important sacrifice that is now called the Scapegoat sacrifice. Annually, the priests (Levites) would call the sins of the community onto an unblemished ram, and then send it out into the desert to die (or kill it). Jesus is the scapegoat of the New Covenant, except that He is perfect, and we don’t need to repeat the sacrifice yearly. The plan has you read about proper sacrifices while also reading about Jesus’ crucifixion in one of the Gospels.
I was very excited to finally read Psalms and Proverbs and soak up Solomon’ and David’s wisdom, but I have to say that’s one of the areas I am most dissapointed. To me at least, it didn’t hit this time around, and I fully intend on rereading them. It seemed that most of the advice was outdated, and it only delineated between the “wicked” and the “God-fearing,” like there was no middle ground. I found that Solomon wasn’t addressing me when he condemned the wicked murderers and adulterers, but the rest of the advice was vague and not overly insightful. I think my expectations were too high, or perhaps, I’m just not giving the Psalms and Proverbs the time they deserve.
That is definitely a down-side of the program, it goes really quickly. I readily admit that there are days when I miss (or several days) and so I have to catch up, and when I do catch-up reading, I’m not giving the Scripture the time it deserves. In fact, 90 days is good because then you have a good idea of the general idea of the Bible, but it is too fast. Once I finish, I intend on rereading key parts of the Bible (parts I find important). Well, now that I think about it, you should never not be reading the Bible, but most of the time you don’t read it chronologically, and that’s fine. It’s great in fact, the only benefit to reading the Bible chronologically is that you can sort of assemble a mental time-table, but it doesn’t help that much. Many of the stories in the Old Testament are so disjointed subject-wise that reading chronologically is almost just annoying because you want it to make more sense, and it doesn’t. The story of Israel in the desert is chronological, and so are the Judges and the Kingship, but a lot of it is just crazy stories and sacrifice directions. And the New Testament could be read backwards if you want. The Gospels are the same story on repeat four times, so it doesn’t really matter if you read them Mark, Matthew, Luke, John or whatever–you’re getting the same story. Acts and Romans should probably chronologically at least once. The Epistles don’t need to be read in order, neither does really James or Hebrews. And Revelations probably only makes sense if you start in the middle of it and read one letter at a time in a repeating, figure-eight formation.
I recommend reading the Bible chronologically though, if for no other reason than it gets you to read the whole Bible, even if it a check-list. Once you read the whole thing, you just get more perspective, and having more insight to context and situation only helps your understanding of keys books like the Gospels. If you want a very nicely, landscape formatted version of the link I posted, email me or text me, and I can send you it the way I use it.
Books I have read in 52 days: (1) Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, (2) Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, (3) Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans.
I’m in 1st Samuel (which is really long, I didn’t know!), Isiah (which is cool, because a lot of key prophecies that Jesus fulfills are in this book), and 1st Corinthians. My favorite book is James, but I haven’t gotten there yet. In the first section, my favorite book has been Exodus, in the second — Proverbs, and Matthew is probably my favorite Gospel.