Lessons from Reading Through the Bible in 60 Days
February 1 – March 31. Those dates did not begin as my Bible reading schedule but as I finished up Revelation Monday morning I thanked God for the tremendous blessing of my first (of many!) journey of reading through the entire Bible in 60 days.
Only God knew the unbelievably perfect timing for this venture. Only He knew the trials and fire which would fill those two months. I could not have planned to begin reading Job just minutes before a heart-breaking phone call; I did not realize at the beginning I would get to read through Matthew, Mark, Luke and John during the celebration of His Resurrection. God blessed me. His provision and love are abundant and beautiful to me!
Originally my goal was 90 days. A couple weeks ago I began playing with the idea of pushing myself to finish by March 31. My goal of reading through all the Gospels by Easter gave me the extra impetus needed to harness my so often-distracted mind and focus.
Have you ever read through Romans, or 1 & 2 Corinthians in one sitting? Paul’s arguments are masterfully built. Reading his letters as a whole instead of in chapter or verse bits makes that clear. The opportunity for a broad overview of Scripture combined with the speed which was set gave me some deeper understanding of portions of the Prophets as well as the almost continuous OT allusions in the New Testament. Instead of only knowing that a given verse was a quote from the Old Testament because of a footnote, I found myself remembering which book, even which chapter the quotation came from. Isaiah 54. Genesis 21. Daniel 11. Ezekiel 28. After all, I had read the Old Testament only a few days ago!
My opinion is that the Old Testament, as a whole, is more conducive to lengthy reads than the New Testament. Reading 16-20 chapters of a New Testament doctrinal book, it will be more difficult to soak in everything than it is to pull some over-riding themes from a long narrative about Israel’s prophets and judges. Am I the only one who so often wants to pause and dig into some story, question, or topic that strikes a particular interest? As much as I try to redeem my time, I want to grow even better at using the minutes given to me so that there is more time for intense Bible study.
Today I finished Revelation 21 and closed my new-three-months-ago but now-very-worn Bible with a mixture of wistfulness and triumph. It’s just so good to be reading all the diverse and powerful ways that the Lord has interacted with, blessed, and disciplined His people.
A few interesting phenomena I noticed as I read:
1. A disinterest in other reading.
Very rarely do I read anything else. Aside from trying to keep up with book club selections, I am not bothering with any other reading right now. And I’m not missing it at all. In my life it has proven true more than once–when the Bible is all I have and/or choose to read, my pleasure in it grows and my interest in fiction especially fades away.
2. Vivid images while reading.
For me, this is because I have not done a survey reading of the whole Bible since I was in the Middle East two years ago. There are portions of the Old Testament that I have not read since then, and wow do they pop off the page! Especially in 1 Samuel, I was reading about when the Philistines were seeking to return the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. They sent it back on a cart pulled by two cows whose calves had just been taken from them. Without even trying I could see the rolling landscape in my head–I’ve stood in the area where all this took place. And the famous story of David and Goliath–already my mind has been taking me back to the Valley of Elah and the beautiful barren wilderness of that area.
3. God’s mercy.
Whether it is a “coincidence” or not, the last few weeks have also been some of the most difficult in recent memory. On so many levels I have felt spiritual, physical, emotional attack. To the breaking point, at times. Yet through it, I refuse to let anything keep me from the Book. It is a comforting stabling force amidst the chaos and horrors that seem beating down the walls of my world. I see God’s mercy and care through the long haul, through the “big picture” in my reading, too. Look at the multiple cycles of sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, and silence (yes, I learned that in Bible Survey) that Israel went through during the period of the Judges. They did not deserve so many chances! Neither do we.
I wonder if we do not often intimidate ourselves too much over the thought of reading “the whole Bible.” Speaking as a voracious reader, it is not that long. Shorter than a Hugo or Tolstoy novel. Much more valuable for our spirits and minds. We’ve been given a precious treasure in God’s Word–let’s remember that and revel in it with every opportunity we are given.
Your post brought to mind Psalm 42:1. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” KJV
It is so true that if our hearts are willing, God will give us a greater thirst to read His Word and to know Him. True joy can be found there.
You are inspiring. Did you just divide the bible into sixty day segments? Or do you have a schedule? PLEASE TELL!
You can order the Net Bible right on their website…I do not think you can get it elsewhere. It is very expensive if you get the version with all the notes, but I personally think it is a great investment. There is also a compact edition with the translation and a small amount of notes–and the size of that Bible is perfect for carrying around, putting in your purse, etc. It is what I used to do my 60 day read-through.
They are here:
First Edition (with 60,000 plus notes): http://store.bible.org/category.asp?CategoryID=7&ParentID=1
Natalie i hope you don’t mind yet another question :))
And i won’t make this post as long as usual lol
but where can i find the NET bible?
I’ve found a couple of web sites with the NET bible..but where can i get an actual copy?
through amazon maybe?
or in any store?
do you have any ideas where i may get one?
Because i really liked the commentary i read from NET bible on that web site i found it was great!
Thank you again for all you do on this web site Natalie, you make it so personal and lovely on here 🙂
thank you for that!
Ok take care Natalie and everyone!
Blessings & HUGS :))
To God be all glory!
In Him, Jane.
Beautiful post! Great accomplishment- it certainly inspires me to do the same!
That is an awesome, amazing accomplishment, Natalie. Congratulations!
Thanks for all the encouragement you provide through YLCF!!!!
Wow! May God bless you for your diligence!
Wow, what I neat idea! I’d love to try this. Is there a schedule that I could go by or a website that you could direct me to?
Sorry, Natalie! My name is Stephanie. I should change it in Blogger. And I agree with you- it’s sometimes helpful to look at other translations for a fresh perspective. (Translations- not paraphrases!) Those thousands of study notes do sound pretty enticing! Do you often read all of the notes along with your reading, or do you just refer to them for further insight when something is unclear?
Ps42 (wish I knew your name :)),
It is not that I have “switched” from using just one version to using just another version. I have old and new NASB, ESV, the NET bible, and sometimes other translations that I all use regularly. They each have different choices in why they translated as they did. Though I do not always agree with the NET Bible’s rendering, what makes it so helpful and interesting are the extensive notes–literally tens of thousands of notes that you would not find in any other Bible. For someone like me who does not know much Hebrew or Greek, it is very helpful in study. I am glad I chose to do my read-through in the NET because it was a way to get a fresh look at the Scripture–in a translation I have not memorized or studied nearly as much as the NASB.
Totally awesome!! I’m looking at reading through the bible in 90 days sometime soon and your article definitely encouraged me to do it!
Thanks for the inspiration! I agree, it’s so interesting to be able to recall the Old Testament prophecies while reading about their fulfillment in the NT. One year is challenging enough for me! Usually I like to go sloow and savour, but I will keep your idea in mind.
I’ve been reading about the NET Bible with much curiosity…I’ve compared some passages of it with my trusted old NASB, and it really flows nicely. I’d like to get one, but everything I’ve ever memorized has been NASB, so I’m hesitant to read anything else…
What made you decide to make the change, Natalie?
I decided to read nothing but my Bible during 2008. I am almost done 1 Kings and am reaping many of the same benefits that you described. Once I have finished reading it from Genesis to Revelations I plan on doing in depth studies of each book. I can also devour a Tolstoy size novel rather quickly but find myself wanting to move slowly through the Bible and savour it. I am looking forward to looking back over 2008 and seeing what God has taught me.
What an accomplishment!