The last time I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover it took me three years. I spent six months just going through the Book of Psalms. Thought I was going to die slogging my way through Leviticus – Deuteronomy. Got more than my fill of bloodshed, perverts, and idiots reading through Judges. Ruth was like an oasis in the desert. Fell in love with Isaiah. Couldn’t keep the minor prophets straight. Devoured the gospels, so hungry to see Jesus in person again after just getting hints of him in the OT. Still a little afraid of Paul. Not as freaked as I used to be by Revelation because we’ve seen so much of the imagery already in the Old Testament.
This year I’ve decided to burn through the whole Bible again, cover to cover, in just 12 months. I’m using the Bible-in-a-year guide from a calendar I got for Christmas. It has you read so many OT and NT passages each day. I’m cheating, though; I’m ahead of it in the Old Testament and way behind in the New Testament.
What really hit home with me after reading the entire Bible — I’d only ever read books and/or passages here and there before, never the whole thing — is how it really is a story. It has all the elements of great literature: Introduction / Crisis / Building Action / Climax / Falling Action / Resolution. Themes. Foreshadowing. Character development – of a nation, not just individuals. And a happy ending. The happiest of all happy endings.
Assuming that not one word of scripture is wasted, and assuming that everything points toward Christ, some passages make me scratch my head. For example, at the very end of Genesis, we have a detailed chapter about Jacob blessing the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh.
Jacob tells Joseph, “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.” (Gen 48:5)
Then Jacob is going to bless the two boys and a big deal is made of the fact that Jacob is going to bless Ephraim, the younger, over Manasseh, the older. Joseph tries to get Jacob to switch but Jacob is adamant. “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” (Gen 48:19)
Chapter 48 deals almost entirely with Ephraim and Manasseh. So it is important and we need to remember this episode. I missed this significance the first time through. I still can’t quite understand why the 12 tribes of Israel are reckoned with Joseph being the two half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh instead of just being called the Tribe of Joseph. I haven’t done any serious study in this before but there must be volumes written about it. Maybe I’ll dig into it more later. Maybe just reading through the book, something will leap out at me and make more sense to me this time. Scripture interprets scripture, as they say.
Now on to Exodus. I wonder how disappointed I’ll be when I get to heaven and discover that Moses doesn’t actually look like Charlton Heston.