Bible in a Year

Read the Bible in a Year

One of the things that we want to do, as followers of Jesus, is to get to know more about him, and ultimately to get to know him more. One of the ways we do this is through reading scripture – reading the Bible together. And so I thought it would be great for us all to journey through the bible together. Now, some of us have more time on our hands, and some of us have less; some of us read quickly, some of us more slowly – this is not meant to be a race or a competition. I would much rather
that you took longer than a year if you need to in order to really read the words and reflect on what God wants to say to you. That’s why I have put together 2 reading plans – one is a plan to read the whole of the Bible together, the other is to read the whole of the New Testament together over the course of a year. As we go through the year, you will notice that we don’t always read the books in the order that they appear in our Bibles, that is because I thought it would be better to read the books in chronological order, so we get a better idea of the timeline that
things happened, and we can place contemporaries together.
This month we are reading:

Author: Moses, with various others
Date written: Approx 1400 BC
Type of book: A scrapbook of poems, stories and history
Key characters: Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Jacob and Joseph
Major themes: Origins of the people of God, human events are not random but are spiralling out of control; covenant and blessing from God on his people; and God punishing evil.
Background: The central story of Judaism is the exodus narrative – the story of the escape from Egypt. The book of Genesis – the fist section of the Torah (the five books of Moses) – was not written for a world that needed proof of God the creator: for Jewish readers that was a given. What they wanted to know was how they had got to the point of needing to be saved, and why God was so interested in them. Once they had left Egypt, it was important that they remembered their history, and how and why they had become slaves. Genesis was a reminder to Israel –
a scrapbook of events explaining why things had got so out of hand and why God saved them.

Author: Traditionally Moses, but ultimately unknown
Date written: 2000 – 1500BC
Type of book: Wisdom literature
Key characters: Job, Eliphaz, Zophar, Bildad and Elihu
Major themes: Suffering is not necessarily deserved and cannot be easily understood
Background: Job’s lifestyle would have been similar to that of Bedouin found in Israel today: desert dwelling herdsmen travelling when their animals need more water and food. Few places around the Edom desert are capable of supporting the life of a small community for long, so Job needed to keep moving. The community of Job and that of the modern day Bedouin were also similar: people had to fight for what they had and protect the area where their livestock would feed. However, respect and hospitality would also be shown to others living in the area, with support
when trouble struck. This was a simple life, but Job was a wealthy man (Job 1:3), which in the Hebrew Bible is a sign of commitment to the way of God. The writer is introducing the reader early on to the idea that Job was blessed in the eyes of God.

Author: Matthew
Date written: AD 70
Type of book: Historical Gospel
Key characters: Jesus, the twelve disciples, Herod, the Pharisees and Pilate
Major themes: Birth, death and resurrection of the Christ – the Messiah – as the fulfilment of the Jewish scriptures; rabbi Jesus as the new Moses calling people to return home.
Background: Matthew opens with a long list of those who were part of God’s story, rather like a recap at the beginning of the third part of a film trilogy. The genealogy opens with the family line running back to Abraham, who fathered Isaac, who fathered Jacob. This is in direct contrast to Matthew 2:1 which opens, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod.” The genealogies highlight that Jesus comes from the family line of Jacob, the one who steals the family blessing, whereas Herod, being part Edomite, was known to come from the line of Esau, the hairy son. For a Jewish reader, Matthew is setting the scene of the account to come, where we find the two opening characters with a previous history, one in which Jacob and Esau fought over who was going to hold the power of the family kingdom. If in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is seen as the hero, then
Herod is clearly seen as the evil tyrant. The backdrop to this story is two leaders fighting over a new kingdom: one with earthly power and wealth, and the other with heavenly power and wealth.