Reading the Bible in 2011 and beyond…

Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison
Click the image to enlarge

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Psalm 119:105

This beautiful image gives you a visual overview of the Bible: the number of books in the Bible, the length of each book and the thousands of cross reference connections between the books. Don’t stop reading the Bible now that 2011 has come to an end. Keep reading through the Bible so that you can have an overview of the content of the Bible.

This past week at Pyromaniacs Dan Philips wrote Bible reading for 2012, and why in which he gives you reasons to continue your reading and a link to Nate Bingham’s list of different Bible reading plans. The lists I gave at the beginning of 2011 are here.

Why is it so important for us to read God’s Word?

When a ship is crippled in naval warfare, it becomes hors de combat or “out of the fight.”1 Its masts broken, with sails shredded and hull or rudder damaged, the ship is at risk of being boarded and taken by the enemy. John Owen wrote:

“Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice, and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers. We could never know who God is, how He is to be worshiped, or wherein true happiness lies…”2

God safeguards Christians from becoming hors de combat by His Word, the Bible.

I have been like a crippled ship with broken masts and shredded sails. Go back and read some of my posts and you can tell. The shock of the last few years was piled on top of events of prior years, and the combined impact brought upon me storms of doubt such as I have never before gone through as a Christian.

When I started posting on reading through the Bible, it was a discipline for me that I knew would keep me writing and keep me in God’s Word. Over halfway through the Bible, after going through book after book after book—sometimes there were psalms I could hardly bear to read—I came to the final chapters of Luke, and God enabled me to write Luke 23–24: Eyewitnesses & Faith. (I slightly edited that post and republished it on August 13th and in the heading as ‘…the chains of Christ’s love’ under Anchor of Hope). That post was, I think, the accumulation of days, weeks and months of reading His Word, and it was as important a milestone for me as writing Gratitude.

As I look back over this year I realize there were several books of the Bible that were especially significant to me.

I cannot tell you how comforting I found the book of Job as I wrote on it because I have heard the speeches Job heard, and I have known the emotions and struggles he felt. His eloquent, and at times biting words, both in their expression and intensity give words to my own feelings. Indeed, when I could not find solace anywhere else, I found it in Job. I needed that book this year. As you may guess there were psalms of David that also gave words to my whys.

The stories of Joseph and Jeremiah staying the course encouraged and helped me.  Neither were stoics and reading their words showed me men who suffered severely, yet who were faithful. Job, Joseph, Jeremiah and David are trailblazers for those times when our affliction is overwhelming and we feel forgotten by God. When I read their words I know their perseverance didn’t occur when things in their lives were tough, but not really too bad—their perseverance went on in the face of terrible suffering. I found hope in Lamentations—I even titled my post on it Lamentations: Desolation & Hope—and I’ve kept verses from Lamentations and a link to that post at the bottom of the front page. Nehemiah always encourages me to persevere.

Different as the lives of the two women were, I especially enjoyed writing on Ruth and Esther. There were also numerous times when I came to write my posts that I found the Lord helped me in unexpected ways through the Bible readings—when I thought I would trudge through writing and instead, God surprised me with His blessings.

There were old friends—Paul continues to delight and help me. I find myself drawn more and more to the books of wisdom: Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs as well as James in the New Testament. I find their resonance with reality helps me.

Some of the posts have been difficult to write, and there have been times I thought I would drown, but through reading the Bible and writing about it God kept me lashed and held tight to the mast of His Word so I wouldn’t be swept overboard into the sea. Through His Word, the Holy Spirit comforted my heart and in the midst of my storm strengthened me to trust God.

Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.
They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.
If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.
Psalm 119:89–92

That’s why it was important for me to read His Word in 2011.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
restoring the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.
They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:7–14

Stay in God’s Word, not just for one year, but for all your years.

Visualizing the Bible® Chris Harrison. Used by permission. Click the image to enlarge.
This image was named one of the best science images of 2008 in National Geographic News. A poster of the image can be bought at HistoryShots.

“The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.”

Bee & Flowers: National Park Service, Public Domain.
1Admiral William Henry Smyth, The Sailor’s Word-Book, 1867.
2John Owen, Biblical Theology: The History of Theology from Adam to Christ, p. xl. Via:

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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