The more I study the Bible in detail, the more I realise I need a better handle on the big picture

Several things have come together recently to help me make a big decision. What is that decision? To read the entire Bible in 12 months. This is part one of a two-parter on the topic.

Perhaps this decision does not seem such a big deal to you. Indeed, many years of my Christian life I have read the entire Old and New Testaments within 365 days. But I haven’t done that for some time. Why? Partly because it got stale. Partly because I found myself needing to study Scripture in more detail. The amount of time involved focusing on a book of the Bible or a topic seemed to get in the way of more voluminous reading. Of course, detailed study and extensive reading or not necessarily mutually exclusive.

However, my perspective has changed. Why? For two primary reasons. The first is spending more time around my good friend, Douglas Jacoby. He has read through the entire Bible almost every year of his Christian life. He has championed this practice and was my first inspiration for doing so. Talking to Douglas about any biblical topic is like talking to a Bible concordance. It’s not only that he has an excellent memory (which he does), but it has a lot to do with his familiarity with the whole of the Bible. It has seeped into him verse by verse, year by year.

The second cause is ironically a consequence of one of the reasons I stopped habitually reading the Bible in 12 months. Let me give you some context. In the Watford church of Christ this year we have been studying ‘Men and women: a divine harmony’. We are attempting to explore and discover God’s intention for how men and women are meant to be a mutual blessing to one another, the church and the world. I have drilled down on this topic in my personal Bible study and lesson preparation. Passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 have been extensively analysed. Gaining a biblical perspective on these teachings has required me to look at the rest of the Bible’s teaching on authority, submission and men and women. We have found ourselves looking at Deborah and Barak, Huldah and Josiah, Adam and Eve, Lydia and Paul, Phoebe, Jesus and a number of women with whom he interacted, David and Abigail, Ruth and Boaz, Esther and Mordecai…. The list goes on.

Studying this topic has taken me all over the Bible — often into nooks and crannies I have not visited for some time. It has dawned on me more and more that the issue cannot be understood from one or two passages. Not even a dozen. This topic requires a reasonably good understanding of the entirety of Scripture. Hence my decision to resume reading the Bible in 12 months.

Is this something you might consider? There are many different ways to do it. I have chosen this time round to use a devotional reading plan in my bible software Accordance. Each day I get a selection of Old Testament, New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb or two. I read these first thing in the morning before going out for my prayer walk. I like using the Accordance bible software because if I hover my mouse over the text reference a drop-down box gives me the full text (see below). It also synchronises nicely with the mobile app. However, the point is not the app, nor the particular plan, but the motivation.

I hope you find these reflections helpful. Reading the Bible in 12 months is to some degree an artificial aim. However, I cherish the idea of becoming more familiar with all of Scripture. It’s there for a reason, and interacting with it can only enrich my life.

Next week I offer seven reasons for reading through the bible in a year.

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“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm