Last week, as I was reading my Bible, I began to reflect on the passages I have been reading lately are not generally regarded as “devotionally rich.” I read 2 Kings 12, Psalm 137, Jeremiah 51, and Revelation 18. If you aren’t familiar with these chapters, they have a lot of judgment in them, aside from 2 Kings 12, which is chiefly about money collected for repairs of the Temple by King Jehoash of Judah. I began to ask myself, “what is the value of soldiering on through parts of the Bible like these, where there doesn’t seem to be an immediate takeaway?”
I usually answer this question with the analogy of food. If we insist that every meal we eat be as memorable as eating in a 5-star restaurant, we will be disappointed. Hopefully, our food is tasty and nourishing. But the majority of our meals may not be memorable. We don’t stop eating because some of our meals are as unremarkable as a bowl of cereal. Biological necessity drives us on to eat. Food fuels us. It keeps us alive. And every so often, we enjoy a meal where the quality of food is memorable.
I am not writing this to impugn the perfection or the sufficiency of God’s Word. But the Bible is to be our daily food. Job writes: “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:12). There may be some days when the passages that we read immediately convict us of sin, or remind us of God’s mercies, or show us an area of our lives where we are not believing the gospel, or we see the sufficiency of Christ in a new light. There are other days in which God’s Word is like a “square meal.” It’s nourishing, but there’s no “zip” in the taste buds.
When those days come, keep soldiering on. The Lord is strengthening you, even if you don’t necessarily feel it. And today, I did see an unusual coincidence that I probably would not have seen if I did not read Jeremiah 51 and Revelation 18 on the same day. Jeremiah prophesies to Judah concerning the imminent deportation of the Jews to Babylon, and God’s future judgment of Babylon for her idolatry and immorality. Revelation 18 chronicles the judgment of Babylon as well, but it’s a different Babylon. Some scholars believe that historically, this was Rome. Others believe that it was Jerusalem. But Babylon is symbolic of this present world and everything about it that stands against God. While I didn’t do a deep study of Jeremiah 51 and Revelation 18, I did take great comfort that judgment is coming against everything that takes its stand against the Lord. These chapters also moved me to search my heart to seek to find whatever in me is opposed to the reign of Christ.
What I found surprising is that the Lord would show me this great truth in two different passages on the same day. And my Bible reading plan isn’t “staged” so that I’ll read those chapters on the same day. I read from four places in the Bible each day. The first is, having started from Genesis 1, I’ll read a chapter a day up through Job, and I’ll start over again. I do the same for the Psalms. Then, starting from Proverbs through Malachi, I read a chapter a day and start over. And I do the same for the New Testament. There’s no calendar or schedule of days, so if I miss a day, I don’t have to catch up. I don’t necessarily stay quite on schedule either, because if I’m prompted to pray, I’ll stop right where I am and pray, even if I’ve only read a couple of verses.
So, that’s my plan. I’d be interested in hearing from you. What is your plan for reading the Bible? Contact me if you need some suggestions or encouragement.