In November 2015, I decided that it would be a good idea to read through the Bible again. The last time I had done it was a number of years ago, and since then, I mostly hung out in the Gospels and the letters of Paul, venturing forth occasionally to Genesis and Proverbs.
It was about time I caught up on my Bible reading. I figured three or four chapters a day could get me from Genesis to Revelation in about a year. That should be simple, right?
Well, apparently not. It is now January 2017, and I am not even halfway through. What went wrong?
I started off great. On the whole, Genesis made for some pretty interesting reading, with the Creation story, Abraham, and all that. Exodus started off pretty well, but quickly got bogged down by all the rules that God laid down for the nation of Israel. Then there were more rules, followed by long lists of family names (called genealogies). I knew that if I persevered and kept reading, I would have other complaints, as I’m sure many of us do. But I just couldn’t get over the genealogies.
After setting my Bible aside too many times, I finally reached out to my friends in frustration. But I got the same response over and over again. “Just read straight through,” they said. They told me that I did not need to do in-depth study on everything—the important thing was just to read it.
Which I did. And I quickly discovered that when I do sit down and read through the more “boring” parts of the Bible (usually aloud, since that helps me stay focused), I sometimes notice things that I didn’t before. For example, I’ve read the story of how David took Uriah’s wife and sent Uriah to be killed in battle a good number of times (2 Samuel 11). What I had never noticed before was that Uriah was listed among David’s 30 mighty men (2 Samuel 23:39). These were David’s best warriors; many of them had been following him since the days of Saul. This meant that David knew Uriah personally. Suddenly, David’s sin took on even greater proportions. And God’s mercy seemed ever richer.
Of course, I don’t always notice something new. For me, the lists are often a chore to work through, and I have to fight to keep my eyes from glazing over. Time and again, I remind myself of 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
You’ll notice that Paul said “all Scripture,” not just the interesting parts. This includes the laws that God gave Israel. And all the lengthy family trees. And the obscure stories that I don’t quite know what to make of. God breathed out all of it, and all of it is useful.
Sure, there are many passages in the Bible that I still don’t get. But I’m going to take God at His word, and trust that if I keep reading and re-reading this entire book that He has given us—instead of just picking out my favorite verses or chapters—His Scripture will continue to teach, rebuke, correct, and train me in righteousness.
Think about it: during Jesus’ ministry on earth, He only had the Old Testament. And the books that He quoted from the most were Psalms and Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy! That makes me think twice about skipping it in my reading plan.
God reveals himself to us in both the Old and New testaments. He is revealed in every chapter, every paragraph, every smallest letter. Jesus told His followers, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18). That makes the Bible worth reading.
I’m in the Psalms right now. I’ll be honest: I don’t love every moment of it. Unlike the psalmist, I do not always find God’s words “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).
But I hope to one day. And in the meantime, I’ll keep on reading, trusting God to use every last letter of it to “[equip me] for every good work.”