I spent last week cleaning up the remains of tomato vines from my garden. It’s easy work because once vines are dead, they lose all strength and break apart with little effort. While the remains of a tree can be made into a range of items from paper products to furniture, a detached vine crumbles to dust with the slightest touch. It has no use except kindle for the fire.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus chose to use the image of a vine when He commanded us to abide in Him, warning that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:1-6). Our best efforts will crumble to dust without the soul-strengthening power of time spent abiding in the word and prayer.
Last week I wrote about the general benefits of daily Bible reading in hopes of encouraging you to consider making daily Bible reading a priority in the upcoming year. Today, we’ll look at some of the specific benefits that happen as we delve into the entire text of the Bible, seeking to answer the question: Why is it helpful to read the whole Bible in the course of a year?
Reading the Bible through in a year helps you:
Go Places You Normally Wouldn’t Go
We all have books of the Bible that we naturally enjoy reading. The Psalms minister to our emotions, the Gospels teach us about Jesus, Paul’s epistles deepen our theological understanding, and the historical books provide insight into the lives of real people as they followed God.
Yet, God also chose to include books like Leviticus with its many purity regulations, Numbers with its long genealogies, and Revelation with its somewhat confusing symbolism and imagery. These too are beneficial, profitable for teaching, correction, and training (2 Timothy 3:16). We need all of Scripture, not just the parts that may be personally interesting or easy to understand. As we read the Bible in a year, it naturally takes us to the places me may not usually go, allowing us opportunities to reflect upon the full counsel of God and consider: Why did God include this passage? What does it teach me about God? How can I live in light of this truth?
See the Big Picture of Redemptive History
Standing up close to an impressionist painting gives you one view of the master’s work – the intricacies of design, the vibrant colors, and the individual brush marks. However, backing away from the painting allows you to see the picture in its entirety. Just as we need both perspectives to be able to appreciate a painting to its fullest, we need both types of views as we read our Bibles.
Taking a year to read the Bible in its entirety allows us the opportunity to back up and observe the full picture. We see the larger story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration in the midst of all the individual stories. All scripture contains the same DNA – Jesus is on every page, present in every story. The Gospel is repeated in shadows-like accounts, preparing us for the ultimate rescue. Reading the Bible through in a shorter amount of time also allows us a better opportunity to connect what we learned in Deuteronomy with the message of Galatians. You will glean insights that you might have missed (or forgotten) if you read it over a longer timespan.
Learn New and Unexpected Things About God
Whether you’ve walked with the Lord for one year or for fifty, there is still so much to learn about God. Each time I read through the Bible I realize that the theological boxes I try to fit the infinite God of the Universe into are insufficient. We all have views of God that are skewed in some way. We must wrestle with the God who forgives David for murder, but condemns Uzzah for touching the ark when the oxen stumbled (1 Chron. 13:9). A full read through forces us to reflect upon all aspects of God’s character and allows us to know Him in new ways.