Have you ever set out with the ambition to read through the entire Bible? Maybe you succeeded on your first try. If so, you did better than I did. My first effort was in the 8th grade. I ended up wandering in the Sinai wilderness for a number of months and my attempt to read the entire bible died there, somewhere in Leviticus if my memory serves me. All those minor laws in ancient Israel were a world away from my life as a teenager in Temecula, CA. It was like trying to read through the entire classified section of the newspaper, when I didn't even need a job. I failed, and it took me a number of years until I was ready to try again.
I suspect that I am not the only one that has had a difficult time reading through the entire Bible. Maybe you have tried and failed as I did. Maybe you were intimidated to even start. Or maybe you never caught the motivation to mine the treasures of each book of the Scriptures. Whatever, the case, I've got some good news for you.
Over the past couple of years, there have been some very good efforts to bring the whole story of the bible to ordinary people like you and me. For example, I just recently finished The Book of God by Walter Wangerin Jr. This novel uses modest artistic liberties to help weave the stories of scripture into one seamless whole. The Story that is told is compelling with a number of geographic and historic additions that help bring the narratives of scripture to life. Wangerin is a Lutheran pastor with a high view of scripture, and while he treats the text very respectfully, he isn't afraid to use his poetic prowess to craft a very moving experience for the reader. The person of Jesus Christ has only become more vivid to me after having read Wangerin's account. The Book of God can be found on Amazon (Zondervan, 1999, 640 pages; just $7 on your Kindle app).
If you are looking for something more directly from the sacred text, you may want to consider another recent Zonderzan book, The Story (2011, 512 pages). The Story primarily uses the bible text directly from the NIV version of the scriptures. However, it is arranged chronologically, and it fills in a number of historic gaps and explains some of the overarching theological threads of the scriptures. It makes for a very readable experience, and a wonderful way to read through the bible in its (near) entirety. They have published a teen and children's addition as well if you want to make it a family journey.
Whichever way you choose, there is a wonderful opportunity before us. God has reached down to communicate His heart to us through His Word. In today's world we have accessible opportunities to get to listen to the whole message God has spoken. I encourage you, even if you have had a negative experience of reading through the whole bible before, to consider one of these paths to get to be exposed to the most important book in the history of the world. Enjoy the journey.
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor