One of my favorite books of all time is the lengthy Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. It sits in my closet as one of my triumphs, having taken me a whopping nine months to read. When I first picked up this formidable reading challenge, there were a few things I did and did not do. I did flip through it and wonder how I would ever accomplish finishing it. I didn’t open it and start reading it at chapter thirty-eight. I didn’t read the last few chapters and become frustrated because I didn’t understand the characters or the storyline. No, of course not! I intuitively and obviously started at the beginning, as all stories are meant to be read.
The Greatest Book-Just Like Any Other Book
Stories and tales are progressive by nature. The longer you listen or read the more you will gradually understand, until you have grasped all of the information. The same is true of God’s Word. The Bible is a story, a record of God’s dealings with mankind, and of his plan to redeem them. It is definitely designed to be read in a specific order.
3 Benefits of Reading the Bible Chronologically
1. We understand the story better.
The Bible is a huge and rather complicated book, and it holds a lot of information. How does one even begin? This is where the concept of reading the Bible chronologically comes in. The Bible is made up of 66 different books that are grouped mainly by genre. Some books are primarily narrative, others poetry, others personal letters, others prophecy, etc. So just reading the it from cover to cover will not be the same as reading the Bible chronologically, or in the order the events actually happened or were written. Purchasing and reading through a Bible that is specifically chronological, in other words, a Bible where the books have been arranged in the order that the events took place, or taking classes where the Bible is being taught in chronological order, will help you immensely in your journey of understanding the Word.
2. We have a clearer and broader picture of the main character of the story, God Himself.
God’s character is revealed progressively throughout the story of the Bible. Just as we do not fully know someone upon meeting them for the first time, nor do we fully understand the Lord when we only read bits and pieces of His story. Studying or reading the Bible chronologically will help bring clarity to His character, and provide a more full comprehension of who God is.
3. We avoid major gaps in our understanding of God’s plan for mankind.
It might seem easier to pick and choose certain well-known stories or easy to understand passages to read while studying the Word, but taking time to work through the Bible in the order the events actually happened is both wise and helpful in that connects all those stories. Grasping a narrative or one specific biblical principle is good, but understanding how all the accounts of the Word are tied to one another and what they mean as one cohesive record is even better, as it will paint the picture of what God’s plan and purpose for mankind really is. This is why New Tribes Mission takes a chronological teaching approach when planting new churches in cross-cultural contexts. We want to understand the big picture for ourselves, and help the people we minister to grasp it as well!
Starting at the beginning of this story God has given to us and moving forward in the correct order will create a foundation that allows His story to unfold progressively and in a manner that will help us understand God and what he is saying, Who He is, as well as His magnificent plan for the human race.
Anna Wishart is a graduate of Ethnos360 Bible Institute, and continues to seek ways to be involved with missions through writing. She currently lives in Winchester, Virginia, and enjoys biking, art, friends, the mountain views, and serving at Fellowship Bible Church.