Where do we go for truth today? For a connection with reality in living our day-to-day lives and for our eternal salvation?
We certainly won’t get it from the media or the news or from asking one of the new AI chatbots (artificial intelligence online sources that are upending content creation on the web and in business). The only trustworthy place to find the truth is in God’s Word.
The Old Testament reminds us:
The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever. Ps. 119:160, NLT
When Jesus prayed for his followers just before His crucifixion, he talked with the Father about the importance of His Word:
I gave them your word; The godless world hated them because of it, Because they didn’t join the world’s ways, Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. I’m not asking that you take them out of the world But that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world Than I am defined by the world. Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. John 17:16,17 MSG
It is essential to get God’s Word into our lives and reading the Bible, all the way through, cover to cover, in Chronological Order is the best way to do it. From helping people do this in a variety of settings for many years, and in my personal experience, I’ve found reading the Bible in Chronological Order is one of the most life-changing things you can do. It will strengthen your faith and help you grow as a disciple of Jesus.
This lesson is an overview of the reasons why people don’t read the Bible in chronological order, the benefits of reading it in chronological order, and how to get the most out of it.
Below is a downloadable copy of the eBook collection of schedules and journal pages, and below that the podcast and video of the lesson.
PLEASE pass on and share this lesson with others and plan to follow along with the lessons in the coming year as we go through the Bible in Chronological Order.
CLICK HERE to sign up for the newsletter, so you won’t miss out on any of them.
Have you ever wanted to read the Bible?
• The whole thing?
• In a way that makes sense?
• In a way that is historically accurate and where all the parts fit together?
• I’ve got a way for you to do that will make a huge impact on your life in what I’ll share in our lesson today….
Read the Bible in Chronological Order!
Motivation, how to, and helps to get the
most out of it!
Many people feel they ought to read the Bible
• They begin in Genesis but by the time they get to Leviticus, if not before, they bail out.
• They feel guilty, but they still want to read the Bible, so they jump around reading easier to understand parts like the Psalms or the Gospels.
• Or they give up on the Bible as a whole and read a devotional that briefly mentions Bible verses.
• Somehow these options don’t satisfy.
• Because I think God has put in our hearts the desire to read the Book He gave to us.
I’ve got a solution that will help
• That is a guided reading through the Bible in Chronological Order.
• This is the order that the events took place, along with the messages given by prophets and apostles read along with when the events happened that prompted their messages.
• AND you won’t do it alone—I’ve got a plan and helps for you every step of the way.
• Before we get into that, let’s talk about why read it in Chronological Order.
• This way of reading it may be new to you and you may wonder why you haven’t heard of it before. . . .
The primary reason is because that isn’t the order the books of our Bible are in
• Our Bibles are arranged by genre, or type of book, not in chronological, historical order.
• WHY? Because it’s always been done that way from the earliest organizations of the book in the Hebrew Bibles to the modern translations today.
• This means all the books of history are together, letters are together, prophecy is grouped together.
• Previously, this was not a problem because people knew the history and context of the Bible and could put the people, doctrines, and messages from the prophets in their proper places.
• It’s not like that anymore because…..
• And please, consider carefully, this isn’t simply some unnecessary philosophical side not I’m going to talk about.
We live in a “post-Christian” world and in many ways “post-Bible” world, far different than it was in the past.
• In the world of the Old Testament and much of the recorded history of the Western World including Europe and the Americas—
• The Bible was the basis of culture, and education; it was the reference point of art and music.
• Every religious or educated person knew the history, the timelines, the main characters that were in the scriptures.
• If they read a Psalm that included the line “Of David, when he pretended to be insane before Abimelech” they knew the story he was referring to.
• If they saw a painting titled “Lydia of Thyatira” (which I found on the web) they would know what it was about. (she was the woman who Paul first preached to). https://busyblessedwomen.com/lydia-of-thyatira/
• It didn’t matter that the words a prophet preached were in a different section than the history that prompted his message—the context and history were common knowledge.
• It’s not like that today. People have no idea of the history underlying the content or historical order of the people and events in the Bible.
Here is what happens if you don’t know the history, the context of important messages
• Imagine 2-3 thousand years from now (the time from the writing of the Old and New Testaments to our world today) reading a book that looked back at our current history that was organized like this:
• In the first part of the book, you’d have a retelling of the major events that took place in the 20th century, such as the history of the Great Depression, World War Two, and the Civil Rights movement.
• Next in the book you’d have chapters quoting poetry, philosophy, and romance stories of the times.
• Finally, at the end of the book, would be famous speeches of the times, but they wouldn’t be necessarily in order, they wouldn’t tell you anything about why they were created, the audience, or what made them important.
• There would be a speech by Churchill after Dunkirk talking about the importance of fighting everywhere, a speech by FDR on only “fearing fear itself,” and finally one from a preacher named Martin Luther King about a dream he had.
• That is how the history and prophet’s messages are arranged in our Bibles.
• That’s why many people don’t read the prophets at the end of the Old Testament because out of context, they simply seem like a group of very angry men ranting about events that we don’t understand.
Without understanding the context, we look for other meanings in the Bible
• Because we can’t tie challenging messages into the historical events that prompted them and apply to similar events today, people look for verses in the Bible based on what feels good to me, what in it answers my needs.
• The commands and challenges in the Bible become not much different than fortune cookie advice. Tasty at times, but easy to ignore if we don’t like what it says.
• I don’t think any of us intend for that to happen, but we can’t help it, if the Bible is primarily a book of optional advice to us and not the written revelation of God worked out in true history in lives and actions of real people.
• Reading the Bible in Chronological order will help us understand the messages of the Bible in the way God wants us to and that will give us true hope.
Another reason people don’t read the Bible in chronological order today
• They forget it should be read as a whole, in order.
• We wouldn’t read any other book that we cared about the way we read the Bible.
• We wouldn’t jump around from passage to passage, here a little, there a little, and say we “read” the book.
• Yet somehow, we think a few devotional passages in the morning in no particular order at all qualifies us to say we’ve “read the Bible.”
To illustrate the truth of this, consider what would happen if:
• From the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, a book on life and business management,
• And you pulled out the saying, “Sharpen the Saw” as a key teaching of the book. If you quoted that to a friend, they might think the 7 Habits was a book about carpentry instead of a reminder to sharpen your skills so you can do the best you can in work and life.
• Imagine if you started watching The Wizard of Oz for the first time in the middle of the movie and see a young woman, a lion, a scarecrow, and a tin man marching down a yellow brick road—you wouldn’t have any idea what to think or why they were doing what they are doing.
• Both examples above are nothing more than a confusing collection of characters and isolated sayings if you don’t read the entire book or watch the entire movie but they all make perfectly good sense if you read the entire book or watch the movie from start to finish and meet each saying and character in context.
It’s no different with the Bible
• For someone who did not grow up listening to Bible stories or perhaps grew up in church and wasn’t paying much attention, how much sense does it make when you hear or read scattered comments about Shem, Jeroboam, and Barnabas or about atonement, sanctification, and justification?
• Little more than it would to a person seeing for the first time a lion walking down a yellow brick road.
• We must read the Bible in the order things happened and with the messages God gave read in the context they were given for the history, prophecies, and individual verses to make sense.
• It takes additional work today to do it, but the Chronological plan I’ll share with you makes it easy to do.
A parenthesis, and a plea to leaders and those with responsibility to teach others
• Some of you listening to this, who did grow up with reading, listening to and being taught the Bible might be tempted to dismiss how important it is to teach new Christians or your congregation in general the overall content and history of the Bible.
• For many it is almost impossible to comprehend the complete lack of Biblical familiarity, let alone Biblical literacy in our world today and what it means to say we are living in a post-Biblical world.
• This was illustrated to me years ago (and I think it has gotten much worse since) when I was watching a Denver Broncos game on TV. John Elway was quarterback at the time. A fan held up a big sign that said, John 3:16.
• The sportscaster noticed it and said, “John 3 1 6, now that’s a statistic of Elway’s I’m not familiar with.”
• He wasn’t trying to be funny. He didn’t know.
• Most likely the person who made the sign, thought he was being a witness—but the impact was lost on many who had no idea it was a Bible verse or the words in it.
• PLEASE—if you want your people to understand Biblical truth—you need to teach them the entire Bible! Bible805.com has tools to help you do that.
Yet, it’s a big project,
so let me share on the positive side some reasons why Reading your Bible in Chronological Order
will benefit you
Reading the Bible in chronological order we see how God is truly the author of the entire Bible
• The Bible was written over 1600 years by 40 different authors, and yet it has one mind and one voice behind all the voices and one clear theme—of God seeking, saving, and restoring his lost people.
• Obviously, the writers over this span of time and geography could not have conspired together to tell the same story with all the parts fitting together the way they do in the Bible on their own.
• Divine intervention was essential for the unity of message the Bible has.
• BUT you won’t hear the ONE voice, you won’t see it as ONE story if you don’t read the whole book and you’ll hear it most clearly when you read it in the historical order events and messages happened.
Reading the Bible in chronological order we understand the whole story of salvation as it unfolds
• Many of us only have bits and pieces of the salvation story.
• When you read the Bible in chronological, historical order, you’ll see how the Old Testament prophecy lays the foundation for fulfillment in the New Testament of the birth of Jesus, his death, resurrection, and promised return.
• When you understand when prophecy was given and then fulfilled by Jesus, you won’t make the mistake of current critics who assume he was just a good man who tragically died.
• The salvation story was written by God, and it takes the entire Bible to tell all of it.
Reading the Bible in chronological, HISTORICAL order makes sense of the prophet’s messages
• For one example, look at the prophet Jonah.
• Many people know about the story of him swallowed by the big fish—quite a story in itself—but a much bigger one when you understand the context of it.
• His story opens in 2 Kings 14, where Jonah was a very popular preacher in Israel during the time of King Jeroboam II; he prophesied his country would be victorious in war, and they were.
• At the same time Assyria, (Nineveh was its capitol) was rising in power. The Assyrians were vicious, cruel, feared and hated by the nations around them including Israel.
• It was in the middle of great popularity and comfort at home and a hated, feared nation outside it, that God called Jonah to leave, go, and preach to Assyria, who not many years from then would in fact, conquer and destroy Israel.
• No wonder he ran the other way. Then comes the story of Jonah being swallowed by the fish and God’s mercy to him and the repentance of the people of Nineveh.
• And what this also tells us is that around 50 years later when Assyria conquered Israel and took people captive, there were most likely believers among the conquerors.
• One more very sad footnote to this story. Around 100 years later, the prophet Nahum predicts the final destruction of Assyria that returned to its vicious cruel ways. I can’t help but wonder if history would have been different had Jonah rejoiced in the revival God brought about, stayed and helped the people grow as followers of Jehovah God instead of stomping out of the city and whining because of God’s mercy.
Bible in chronological order we won’t skip the hard parts
• If we don’t read the Bible in chronological order, we will tend to go back to favorite passages instead of reading the entire Bible.
• In doing that we skip the hard parts.
• These are the parts that are not easy to understand, like Leviticus. But without understanding that book about the Tabernacle sacrifices the sacrificial death of Jesus won’t ultimately make sense.
• When we do understand the required laws and sacrifices described in the Old Testament, John’s exclamation, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” is extraordinarily meaningful.
• The same thing happens with the minor prophets, whose world, when we understand the setting of their messages, is uncomfortably similar to our world today. And if we understand that, we may have to challenge our comfortable Christian lifestyle.
Reading the Bible in chronological order you won’t be afraid of “gotcha” questions about the Bible and your Christian faith
• I think a lot of Christians are afraid to share their faith because they are afraid of what I call the “gotcha” questions, all kinds of sometimes very valid questions about what is in the Bible, that can be tricky but that are easily answered if you know the Bible well.
• In addition to questions from friends we can’t explain, many Christians also have questions about the Bible they are afraid to express. The “dark night of the soul” can be terrifying when we doubt the truth of God’s Word.
• Many questions are answered, and fears calmed by simply reading the whole book in chronological historical order.
• There is a lot of incorrect information floating around in secular media that again, a simple, chronological study of Bible can easily correct.
• I realize this is a “trust me” statement, but I’ve seen this as a result from many who have taken my classes on going through the Bible in this way and it has meant a lot to me in my fears and doubts.
Knowledge of Biblical truth is even more important today because
• We desperately need a foundation of TRUTH for our lives.
• We need a sure and true anchor for how to live, what to believe, what to hope in.
• Technology advancing at an incredible pace with AI (artificial intelligence), deepfakes, digital editing of images in streaming video, AI created text and much more—it can be overwhelming.
• Truth is in danger of losing an objective meaning and this situation will become worse and worse.
• We find TRUTH in God’s Word and KNOWING the content of it is the first step and an essential one in discernment of what is true and what is false.
• Counterfeit money is discovered by comparing it with the real thing.
• We need to KNOW real Truth well so that the counterfeits of the world apparent.
One more thing as followers of Jesus
• Knowing the content of God’s Word is an important foundation, but in addition,
• We must commit to APPLICATION
• James 1:22-25, But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.
• But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
God doesn’t want us to be walking encyclopedia
• He wants us to be his witnesses
• We need to ask continuously ask ourselves, “How will I live differently because of what I’ve read?”
• Or as a pastor in our town recently said, “Am I being a good trailer for Jesus?” (as trailers make us want to see a movie)
• Journaling, writing down your thoughts, application ideas, questions, is highly recommended as a way to go from knowledge alone to application.
• In the materials I’ll be sharing with you, I’ll have application ideas, questions, and additional suggestions to help you live the lessons.
Speaking of these materials, what
I have for you
• Please go to www.Bible805.com for SCHEDULES and Journal pages in a variety of formats, all free and reproducible.
• I will take you through the Bible in my lessons, podcasts and videos—starting at the first of the year, though you can jump in anytime.
• In addition, I have additional resources (videos, editable PowerPoints, Notes, Questions, much more) on the www.Bible805Academy.com for you to use to teach others.
• Sign up for the Bible805 newsletter for notification of new materials; subscribe to the podcast and Bible805 YouTube channel.
Finally, the adventure of reading through the Bible in Chronological order
• Is a little like getting to know Aslan, the Christ figure in C.S. Lewis book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Mrs. Beaver surprises the children by saying:
• “Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
• “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…
• “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
• To commit to reading through the Bible in Chronological, Historical order is a great adventure that will take time, effort, and hard work.
• It might not be safe—it will shake up and transform every part of our lives.
• But it will be good.
That’s all for now,
Please check out the notes and other materials related to this topic at www.bible805.com, subscribe to this channel and tell your friends about these resources.
• Links to:
• Podcasts, blogs, and eBooks
• Printables & merch of Bible verses & encouraging sayings
• Chronological Bible-reading schedules