As you know, the daily Scripture readings I list here, are the ones we as a Church are reading through, using the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. So many have commented on how they are enjoying it, and getting exposed to passages they’ve shied away from in the past. Awesome!
Since there are only 25 readings per month, we get a few days to play catch up and today I thought I’d give you just a few things to keep in mind as you are reading.
Last year, at 52, I decided to FINALLY go to seminary. Finding one that would accept me was tough enough. Dr. Talbot at Whitefield Seminary in Florida, in a sudden fit of insanity decided he’d try to take me on. So it is I made my trek down to do my oral exams to see where I placed and what I needed to complete an M. Div., and move on to a Th. D. He warned me it would be about 12 hours a day for 3 days. That was pretty close. Disney World was right there and a few times I thought, “did Mickey ever go through anything like this?” Taking comfort that he must have (I’ve heard STORIES about that Walt Disney guy), and reasoning that if a rodent in shorts with a voice like Michael Jackson’s could make it big – I could do THIS – I pressed on.
One of the things Dr. T warned me about before coming, was that I ought to have an outline of the whole Bible in my head before I got there. I DO have a photographic memory, but most of the time its out being developed. Someone else told me they thought it was just over-exposed. Anyway, I had never thought of approaching the Bible quite that way. It seemed incredibly daunting. So in the several months I had to prepare, I began going through the Bible to put together a system for myself.
Now mind you, I have few spare cells for this kind of storage in my gray matter. Years of Rock’n Roll, Science Fiction and Monty Python have left their mark. I suffer from some sort of synaptical crossover. The kind of thing that when I hear Lionel Richie on the radio singing “Say you; say me, say it together” – I repeat out loud, even if no one else is in the car with me – “You, Me, Together.” And laugh. Every time! And no, the medication doesn’t make it stop.
So anyway, I start trying to think of a way out of this with the least amount of work humanly possible. And you what? I found out, it really wasn’t all that tough. Because I didn’t start trying to memorize big sweeping chucks of names and dates and places and outlines proper. What I did, was scan each book, and then try to think of ONE WORD, to encapsulate its main theme. And from there, it was amazing how much of the book really came back to mind with very little effort.
After that, I started thinking of more aggressive structures – which I am still working on. For example:
Genesis. The theme word is – (come on, I know you know it already, think for a second) – YES! You got it! BEGINNINGS! Amazing isn’t it? How did I EVER come up with such insight? OK, in this case, I cheated. BEGINNING is what GENESIS means. But they aren’t ALL that easy.
Now on top of that, I began to just break it down. Remembering some things my Dad taught me years ago, I simply looked at Genesis and laid out that it basically breaks down into four events, and the lives of four people. Pretty easy. Creation, The Fall, The Flood and Babel. And then, Abraham, Isaac Jacob and Joseph. That’s it. You’ve got Genesis knocked that easy.
Now here, I’m just going to give you my list of theme words for the whole Bible. If you do something like write them down beside each book listed in the table of contents, you’ll have a handy guide to remind you not of the name, but the content. And if you just start to go over it once a week or so, you’ll be absolutely astounded at how much you retain – especially since you are now reading through each book.
Now one last hint, the theme words you come up with (you can do your own, you don’t have to use mine) – think of them in terms of the plan of salvation as you go. I think you’ll be able to see what I mean as you look through my list.
So, are you ready? Here we go:
Genesis – Beginnings (Of ALL things, especially the need for and plan of salvation)
Exodus – Deliverance (Fallen man must be delivered from sin, darkness, bondage and the world)
Leviticus – Foundations (The moral, civil and ceremonial structures of God’s earthly kingdom)
Numbers – Weeding (Letting the faithless fall in the wilderness, and be separated in other judgments)
Deuteronomy – Reminders (We ALWAYS need to rehearse the basics)
Joshua – Conquest (The Christian attacking indwelling sin to inhabit the land)
Judges – Revealing (How man ALWAYS needs to depend upon God)
Ruth – Ingrafting (Gentiles will get to share in the covenant promises)
1 Samuel – Transition (From men serving God independently to God’s King)
2 Samuel – David (The man ofter God’s own heart in power – a type of Christ)
1 Kings – Solomon (Golden age of promise, marred by wisdom over a heart yielded to God)
2 Kings – Division (Civil war over a lack of Godliness in leadership)
1 Chronicles – Trans/David (Revisiting 1 & 2 Sam.)
2 Chronicles – Solomon/South (Solomon’s reign and then history of the southern kingdom)
Ezra – Returns (The several returning waves from the Babylonian captivity)
Nehemiah – Rebuilding (Restoring Jerusalem & the Temple after God’s discipline)
Esther – Providence (God is never mentioned, but His hand is everywhere)
Job – Who (We may never know the WHY behind life’s trials, but why is never as important as WHO)
Psalms – Worship (Honesty, prayer, intimacy and song in meeting God)
Proverbs – Wisdom (Contrasts, Comparisons and Insights for life and a God-ward worldview)
Ecclesiastes – Purpose (The WHY of life)
Song of Songs – Passion (Christ’s love for His Church and vice versa modeled in Solomon)
Isaiah – Holiness (A vision of God in His thrice holy majesty, in the midst of woe)
Jeremiah – Grief (God’s broken heart at the sin of His people and His need to discipline them – us)
Lamentations – Faithfulness (His mercies are new every morning, even in the darkest hours)
Ezekiel – Revival (Restoration of the dry bones after all human hope is gone)
Daniel – Sovereignty (See God reigning everywhere! Over men, time and history.)
Hosea – Adultery (Sin is the deepest kind of personal affront to God – and still He forgives)
Joel – Locusts (The invasions as a type of God’s judgments)
Amos – Famine (When men ignore God, He takes away their sustenance – even the Word)
Obadiah – Edom (God will judge the lost too)
Jonah – Outreach (The Gospel is NOT to remain with us, but we’re to carry it to our worst enemies)
Micah – Wickedness (Wickedness shows most when we have the most)
Nahum – Nineveh (The nations of the world are ALL accountable to God)
Habakkuk – Dialogues (Habakkuk – Lord, I don’t understand! God – I know what I’m doing)
Zephaniah – Too late (When we continue to resist Him, there IS a point of no return)
Haggai – Priorities (How we put so much before God, His purposes and His people)
Zechariah – Encouragement (God DOES and WILL restore)
Malachi – Questions (Seven critical questions from God to those who claim to be His)
Tomorrow – we’ll do the New Testament.