What It Is, How It Works, and Why We’re Doing It
Want to go on an adventure with me? That is what this year’s daily reading plan is going to be: an adventure. It is going to be an adventure of sorts, anyway. That is because it is going to be new and somewhat different.
Now “new” and “different” can be problematic terms in The Faith. People of The Faith have historically resisted the new and different. Sometimes they resist it on legitimate grounds. The Faith is “given once for all” (Jude 3) and for that reason is not going to change that much and should not be changed that much. Other times they resist it one less-legitimate grounds. Being “stuck in your ways” is a very real thing. All us church people know that. We’ve learned it by experience.
And I was somewhat resistant to the new and different when it came to daily Bible reading. The Bible, after all, is one of the foundational elements of The Faith. It is the vehicle through which the Father gave that Faith to us. Bible-knowledge and Bible-familiarity are crucial elements of the life of The Faith, and that knowledge and familiarity come through Bible-reading. Systematic and repeated Bible-reading. We have to be constantly reading and rereading the Bible to have that knowledge and familiarity the life of The Faith requires.
Yearning for Something New
But even though I knew that is true, I was still feeling a need for something new and different when it came to settling on a daily Bible reading plan for this year. One reason for this is that I read through the Bible via various plans for many years. I’ve been doing this for most of my life, in fact, and for most of that time I did it the same way. I started at Genesis on January 1 and went straight through to end in Revelation on December 31. Is this a good way to do it? Certainly. But is this the only way to do it? Well, that was the question that came up this year. I started to feel that there must be another way to accomplish this goal of reading through the Bible. I started to feel that and I started to yearn for it.
Discovering the Story
Another reason I feel a need for something new and different in a Bible reading plan for this year is that I realized reading the Bible straight through from Genesis to Revelation may not be the best way to discover God’s story. I know it seems the most logical to us, but there are a couple of problems with it.
The first problem is that the Genesis to Revelation order of the Scriptures is not the only order of the Scriptures. It’s just the way the modern western church ordered the Scriptures. The ancient Hebrews, as I’ve told you many times before, had a significantly different order, and that order reveals parts of God’s story that we might be missing. (For a good summary of this ancient Hebrew order and what it reveals about God’s story, watch this 10-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85PoIIZasj8).
The second problem is that God’s story is not told in a linear fashion. It is not completely told in a linear fashion, anyway. Sure, Genesis to Kings are linear; the story starts in Genesis and goes to Kings. But then we get Chronicles, which goes back and gives a summary of that story starting from the Creation and going a little beyond Kings. After that we get a little more history in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, but those are followed by the Wisdom Poetry books which come from various places in the story and make various contributions to the story. Next we get the Major and Minor Prophets, which go back and start retelling the story from the time of Kings. Finally we get the New Testament, which does cover the same themes of the Old Testament while furthering the history (notice, for example, how John pulls a Chronicles by starting his Gospel with an addendum to Genesis 1). So the story goes, then pulls back, then goes again, then folds upon itself. It is not a fully linear story.
What I was hoping for in a daily reading plan, then, was something that would both not be the same plan I’ve done for years as well as a better way of revealing the full story God was telling. Did I find it? I don’t think so. Trying to find a plan that will allow us to read the full Bible in 365 days (313 if we take one day a week off) and will reveal God’s full story in a comprehensive form may be the proverbial “bridge too far”. I’m still working on it and I’m still hopeful for it, but I know I didn’t find it this year.
But I did find something a little closer. This plan is called “the Scripture Storyline” plan. It has one main track, which is the Genesis to Revelation track. But it also has a Psalms and Proverbs track. Neither of the tracks go strictly in biblical order. The first track starts with Genesis to Deuteronomy, but it then goes to Matthew. It continues to intersperse the Old Testament books with the Gospels before finally ending with the Epistles and Revelation. The Psalms/Proverbs track attempts to match psalms and proverbs with the readings from the first track. For example, it matches psalms of creation like Psalm 33, 136, and 148 with the creation account of Genesis 1, thus keeping those separate tellings of that part of the story together.
A Little Help
Again, this plan is not at successful at keeping all the similar parts of the story together, and I don’t blame it for that because that is a nearly impossible task. But if you are interested, there is another source that will help us see the bigger picture of this story, and that is this book here:
In this book, the creator of the Scripture Storyline reading plan gives us a short (generally one-page) devotion for each day of reading. These devotions list some of the other places where the parts of the story we are reading that day appear in Scripture. For example, one the day we read Genesis 1, the devotion tells us that John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1 also mention the Creation and the role Jesus played in it. This book is not mandatory. You can follow the reading plan without it, and you may wish to. But it will contribute to a holistic understanding of what you are reading.
So that’s the adventure we are going on this year. I don’t know exactly how it will turn out, but I know there is a chance to meet and hear from God in it. There is a chance to get a better understanding of this grand story and of the grand God behind it. I’m looking forward to that, so I’m starting this adventure on January 1. I hope you will start it with me!