On March 9, I completed my 7th annual speed-read of the Bible. If you’d like to know why I do an annual speed read, see my Bible reading plan for readers. This year, I used the ESV Reader’s Bible, 6 Volume Set. I chose not to supplement with an audio Bible, so I could get my eyes on every page of the new 6-volume set. Next week I’ll offer my final impressions of the 6-volume set and its presentation, but this week I’ll share my biggest takeaways from the stupendous subject matter.
In canonical order, here’s how the Lord impressed me through his word over the last 10 weeks:
- Partly under the influence of having just read Hays’s delightful The Temple and the Tabernacle, I was better able to see the differences between Kings’ and Chronicles’ treatment of Solomon building the temple. The narrative of Kings clearly has a hint of something sinister, particularly in contrast to Moses’ erection of the tabernacle. Solomon receives no direct mandate from the Lord. He does not build things according to a heavenly pattern. There is no repetition of instructions and construction (as in Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40). In the narrative of Kings, Solomon’s construction of the temple has more than a hint of the beginning of Solomon’s fall. However, the narrative of Chronicles clearly portrays the temple construction under direct and explicit divine blessing. In the flow of that story, Solomon’s building of the temple is the beginning of Israel’s greatness, which the exiles attempt to recover. These different perspectives on the same event are very interesting indeed.
- I have never been a big fan of the Psalms. I prefer narrative and wisdom literature. But each year, my love for the Psalms deepens. The 6-Volume Set encouraged me to read Psalms in 5 sittings, as 5 “books.” Each book held together really well, beginning and ending on a similar note, and grouping psalms in some intuitive ways. As I get more familiar with the book, I’m enjoying it much more.
- When reading Isaiah and Jeremiah, I usually feel like I’m swimming in molasses. It’s slow going, I’m easily stuck, and whatever I try to grab slips through my fingers. Part of the problem is that I’ve never had opportunity to study these books at length. This year, I began to see glimmers of structure in these books, and that gave me just the footholds I needed to feel a sense of progress and development throughout.
- When I read the New Testament, I usually follow my favorite four-track reading plan, with each track beginning with a gospel and ending with the related epistles. This year, I went straight through canonically, except that I flipped Luke and John in order to read Luke-Acts together. What impressed me was, after reading all 4 gospels in a row, the book of Acts felt glorious. Seeing the apostles perform the works of Jesus, and do even greater things (taking the gospel out to all nations) thrilled me like never before.
- After reading all of Paul’s epistles in a row, Hebrews shone afresh. This “word of exhortation” (Heb 13:22) is likely a transcribed sermon, and as I read, I could almost hear an apostle preaching it. Reading Hebrews in one sitting is something that must be done if we are to get the big idea. And imagine what might happen in our churches if this inspired sample sermon shaped our preaching today.
If you joined this year’s reading challenge—and even if you haven’t completed the Bible—I’d love to hear what struck you as you read.