Guide to Reading the Entire Bible in One Year

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Overview

This guide, developed to help a group of church members who wanted to read the entire Bible, is not an academic or scholarly one. Rather. it treats the Bible as a unique source of sacred light that will lead the reader to live with joy and freedom in a troubled world. Without exception, the effect of reading the entire Bible is both personal and practical.

A Guide to Reading the Entire Bible in One Year is unique in that it directs the reader at differing paces depending on the ...

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Overview

This guide, developed to help a group of church members who wanted to read the entire Bible, is not an academic or scholarly one. Rather. it treats the Bible as a unique source of sacred light that will lead the reader to live with joy and freedom in a troubled world. Without exception, the effect of reading the entire Bible is both personal and practical.

A Guide to Reading the Entire Bible in One Year is unique in that it directs the reader at differing paces depending on the passage. In some instances it encourages quickly skimming several pages; at other rimes it suggests reading slowly to meditate on the message of a few paragraphs. The guide is also unique in that individuals or groups may use it to begin reading the Bible at any time during the year.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558537828
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Pages: 272

Meet the Author

Webb Garrison, formerly associate dean of Emory University and president of McKendree College,wrote more than 55 books, including Civil War Curiosities and Civil War Triviaand Fact Book. Before his deathin 2000, Garrison lived in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.
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Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


FIRST MONTH:

Genesis and Exodus


Genesis


Genesis is "the book of beginnings." Contrary to popular thought, though, it is not the beginning of the universe that is the most important part of its story. Rather, it is the beginning of God's dealings with mankind in general, and with the chosen people in particular, that makes this book so vital.

    The story that unfolds is strictly and entirely the story of salvation—or the history of the manifold ways in which the Creator has offered rescue to men and women. From the beginning, the account is elaborate and tortuous, for the creature who is offered divine aid is the strangest mixture in creation. He is made in the divine image, that is, he has inside him the potential to achieve God-likeness, but because he is also of earth and from earth, he is confined and cribbed about by requirements of his body.

    One-half of this paradoxical creature desperately wants to seize hold of divine gifts he can dimly see. But his other half—his earthly self—is lured by other goals. So he is in a state of ceaseless struggle. His responses to the overtures of God are never unmixed. He is sometimes eager, but he often balks and resists. Consequently, salvation history is a continuous series of ups and downs. At the very beginning, the climax—God's self-giving for the sake of man—is foreshadowed and hinted, though darkly, as "a light shining in a dark place" (2 Pet. 1:19).

    As you read the dramatic story of the beginning ofGod's striving to help us achieve our true goal, never forget that the world was created for this specific purpose. God's universe is a "university of life" designed to prod, persuade, awaken, and drive you and me to accept divine rescue. Therefore, the face of the whole world trembles in the balance as you prepare to accept or reject the good things offered you by God. What you do has a bearing upon a cosmic victory so vast that stars and planets and suns and moons are mere agents and instruments.


First Day Read Genesis 1-2


Nothing that exists came into being by chance. God created the laboratory in which man is the inquiring experimenter. Because God's creative acts were deliberate and purposeful, it follows that the world and life are "good." Notice how many times this vital factor is clearly specified in the account of creation.

    What does this have to say about your own burdens and opportunities today? What pressing problems that confront you will look entirely different if you can succeed in seeing them as cooperating in God's stupendous work of establishing a creative context for your life?

    If you are confronted by difficult decisions, take heart! Notice that, from the first, the creature who names and controls all other creatures is incapable of living in a state of ease. For Adam and Eve are torn between desire to obey God and hunger for the forbidden fruit of "the knowledge of good and evil."

    Do you think it is possible to escape tension and turmoil by any process short of erasing the divine image that is traced upon you?


Second Day Read Genesis 3-5


Remember that we are dealing with salvation history. The Bible is not a textbook of political history, nor an encyclopedia of biology or astronomy or agriculture. From start to finish, the story told is that of the dealings of God with human beings. Always the emphasis is upon divine truths communicated through human words. Because the experiences and viewpoints and goals of the reader color every word he reads, the message of a given passage is not fixed and automatic. Instead, it varies from one person to another and from one time to another in the life of one reader. You may take it as absolutely certain that during this year's reading you will discover fresh meaning in passages long familiar to you.

    In the story of Adam's fall, we find it to be a principle of life that no one can continue blameless in the sight of God. From generation to generation, every son and daughter of every father and mother is human—that is, frail and limited and prone to stumble. The fact that this has always been and always will be is the burden of the story in which the serpent plays the role of the Evil One.


Third Day Read Genesis 6-8

As with you and me, so it is with families and tribes and nations—how often God must have wearied of mankind!

    But the darkness is never total. There is always a Noah standing for righteousness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Always the world's Noahs obey the voice of God, even when the message they hear seems to make no sense. Such obedience—in which you and I can participate in this our time of new deluges—is vital in salvation history.

    Always, inevitably, without exception, the divine-human crisis ends in rescue and victory and joy. Anything resembling ultimate defeat simply is not conceivable. Though men in their freedom rebel and defy their Creator, he has so shaped his total creation that right and truth must triumph. Because that is the case, there is no hopeless situation under the sun. Whatever the nature of the floodwaters that now roll over your soul, divine rescue and a new beginning await you if you will listen and obey.


Fourth Day Read Genesis 9-11


Here we find the first clear witness to a central fiddle of salvation history. For reasons never quite clear from our human perspective but entirely adequate for God's own purposes, the Creator has actually entered into a covenant with mankind. Man did not earn or win or deserve the right to become a partner with God. This contract was entered into as a result of divine initiative and conferred upon man as a gift.

    The entire Bible offers a running account of salvation history, so it may be described as "the story of the covenant." Not even the shameless conduct of a just-rescued Noah can cancel out the divine promise. Even the rebellious banding together of men, pooling human resources in an effort to build a tower to heaven in order to become more-than-human, does not void the contract.

    The coming of Jesus Christ, at the time appointed by the Father, is the fulfillment of the covenant from the divine side. At Calvary, the Creator makes good his word. Precisely because that is the case, no view of the Cross is adequate that does not see it as the culmination of age-long processes initiated by God "in the beginning" so that saved men and women may accept a glory no mere mortal can achieve.


Fifth Day Read Genesis 12-14


In his acceptance of divine rescue and his entering into a covenant with God, Noah represents all mankind. But the Creator's dealings with creatures made in his image are to become more specific. Even God could not bring his Son into the world in a vacuum. For the Messiah to enter history, it was necessary that a particular people be set aside—chosen first by act of God and then by their response to the divine overture.

    We do not know why the Hebrews were chosen as God's people, but we do know that they were selected for a unique relationship with God. The covenant was entered through their founder, Abraham. God's special promises to him and to his seed forever gain new and dynamic meaning in Christian thought, as we shall see before this year is over. For the present, we can only acknowledge that the bond of the covenant produces a people utterly unlike any other.


Sixth Day Read Genesis 15-18


From the beginning of the covenant relationship, difficulties, delays, and barriers are apparent. There is no quick, smooth working out of the divine purpose, even when it relates to the life of a single person. Over and over, there are reasons to think God's promises are empty words. But the very obstacles to the fulfillment of these promises serve to dramatize divine power.

    In several of his letters, Paul wrestles with the matter of the covenant between Jehovah and Abraham. The promise, he concludes, was made to the spiritual rather than to the biological descendants of Abraham. Does this interpretation add to your appreciation of the Old Testament?


Seventh Day Read Genesis 19-22


Scripture comes out of life and is directed to life. These vivid chapters support the conclusion that the real issues of life change very little over time. People of the third millennium after Christ face the same temptations, testings, and opportunities that confronted Abraham in the second millennium before Christ.

    What ideas in today's reading are particularly pertinent to issues you face? Do you think Jewish interpreters of Scripture were right in regarding Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac as the spiritual mountaintop of the Old Testament? What parallels, if any, do you see with God's offering of his Son upon the mount of Calvary?


Eighth Day Read Genesis 23-24


While the Bible is immortal literature, it is much more than that. It is a faithful representation of human dreams, frustrations, defeats, and victories. Instead of being a pretty story in which everyone is good, it depicts human nature exactly as it is. Some readers object to the sexual explicitness in Scripture, but that is part of its glory: we are dealing with real people, not characters out of fairy tales.

    Notice that the haggling over the purchase price of a burial ground is a delightful description of Near Eastern bargaining. It helps to make Abraham a real person rather than an idealized figure. Much the same thing can be said about Isaac's courtship, if it may be called that!


Ninth Day Read Genesis 25-26


The birth of twins could present insoluble problems about which boy would inherit the benefits and obligations of the covenant. The faith of Israel, however, leaped blithely over such difficulties and asserted that God's word is always gloriously victorious; nothing can thwart the working out of the compact. Thus in the triumph of the younger brother over the older, we see a demonstration of the way in which the promise made to the chosen people overcame even the obstacles of biology.

    Over and over, the divine promises are repeated. Not only does every generation require a fresh assurance, but all individuals who transmit the blood and the promise need assurance during crucial periods; they are fortified by hearing Jehovah repeat the fact that the covenant still holds.


Tenth Day Read Genesis 27-29


Part of the meaning of the strange story of Jacob and Esau rests upon reverence for the spoken word. It was through words, not through tangible agents or even angels, that God created the world. God spoke to Noah and Abraham, and his word triumphed over every obstacle. Psalm 29 gives a poetic description of the way Providence operates through God's voice. In John 1 and other New Testament passages, the Son of God is described as the Word of God. Even words spoken by humans are potent and enduring; once the decree of King Ahasuerus had been published, it could not be recalled (Esther 8:8). Having uttered a vow, Jephthah could not take it back even to save his daughter (Judg. 11:29-40). The word is the midwife presiding at the New Birth (I Pet. 1:23-25). Coming from the mouth of the Savior, it is a sword that makes holy war (Rev. 2:16).

    Viewed from one perspective, it literally is true that no word ever uttered can be taken back. So regarded, words actually are among the most dynamic factors in human life, and tiny though it be, the tongue is the organ that most clearly separates men from beasts.

    Even though Jacob engaged in trickery, the promise of God, transmitted through the spoken blessing of Abraham's descendant, held good. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is powerful enough to cancel out the promises of the covenant. Neither human frailty, nor family feuds, nor torturous marriage customs of a primitive clan can prevail against the divine word.


Eleventh Day Read Genesis 30-31


The patriarchs took marriage and the family very seriously. Although their views about sex do not coincide with those of the typical American, we cannot fail to see that they regarded sex as part of the mystery and grandeur of religious faith.

    Nor can we fail to see that they were sensitive to religious faith as a factor in every situation. They were not above engaging in what we consider shady tactics, but they were perpetually erecting altars, making sacrifices, and renewing their vows of fidelity to Jehovah. Do you consider them to have been hypocritical or sincere? Why? What do you think of attempts to prepare an edited version of the Bible, leaving out passages that shock the modern reader or aren't "fit" for children to read?


Twelfth Day Read Genesis 32-33


All through the story of man's response to God's invitation there is a back-and-forth movement. This is geographical as well as spiritual and intellectual. Especially in the time of the patriarchs, the called one is forever having to leave the comfort and security of home in order to go into some far country.

    But there is equal stress upon the importance of returning home. Over and over, individuals and groups "go back." Jacob's exciting and dangerous return is repeated generations later by the return of exiles from Babylonian captivity.

    Some readers of the Bible are sure that this pattern of going out and returning home is a way of communicating a universal truth: In the providence of God, somehow and some day, all men will "return home" to enter into a saving relationship with the Father. So viewed, the going out and coming in of Old Testament individuals and groups serve to prefigure the message of salvation that is communicated through the parable of the prodigal son. Perhaps you will wish to debate this conclusion. Whatever you may think about it, do you consider the biblical message to be essentially pessimistic or overwhelmingly optimistic? What are the implications for your life this week?


Thirteenth Day Read Genesis 34-36


Formally and informally, sometimes in solitude and sometimes in a public ceremony, the changing of one's name was a frequent biblical event. For instance, Abram became Abraham, Jacob became Israel, and Saul became Paul.

    Whatever else it indicates, the taking of a new name by an adult is a public declaration that a new person has come into existence. Thus the dictum "You must be born again" was firmly established long before the Savior spoke those words to Nicodemus.

    Jacob's change of name made public the inner transformation, long in process and often interrupted, by which a clever young rogue matured as one worthy to be an ancestor of the Christ. Mark well, however, that Jacob did not lift himself by his own bootstraps. His transformation was not merely one of growth. Rather, he experienced a divine rescue whose effects were to make of him a person he could not become by any amount of striving.

    Here is the eternal secret of the gospel, which is proclaimed over and over in Scripture but is perpetually hidden from those who have no eyes to see: GOD HAS CHOSEN TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO ENTER THE COVENANT. HE WILL LITERALLY AND ACTUALLY REMAKE EVERY PERSON WHO WILL LET HIM. THIS COSMIC ACT OF SALVATION PRODUCES A TRANSFORMED INDIVIDUAL, SO DIFFERENT FROM THE OLD PERSON THAT IT IS AWKWARD OR IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO ANSWER TO HIS OLD NAME (cf. Rev. 2:17).


Fourteenth Day Read Genesis 37-40


Are you tempted to heave a sigh of relief?.

    "At last! We're on comfortable ground. Here is a story we can tell our children without blushing and without their demanding too many explanations! The story of Joseph is vivid, dramatic, and not too hard to understand ..."

    Not so fast. Remember that the one true function of Scripture is to communicate God's truth to children. If some of the crude and bizarre stories we have read in recent days puzzle or disturb us, so that we have to search very hard to find any spiritual truths in them, we face an opposite danger here. We can regard the story of Joseph as being merely a historical record of colorful men and events. To treat it in that fashion is to destroy it as a pointer toward truths that transcend history.

    What warnings or promises do you think God is making through the vehicle of an account of Joseph's adventures? How do events in the life of this ancient man yield clues for your own journey today? To what degree is some type of "going down into Egypt" a necessary prelude to acceptance of divine rescue and participation in an exodus from one's personal "land of corn and plenty ... and fleshpots"?


Fifteenth Day Read Genesis 41-43


Throughout Scripture, Egypt is a symbol of captivity to material things—worldliness in its absolute form. It was the domination of the world and the flesh, not simply the tyranny of Pharaoh, from which the chosen people were rescued by the mighty acts of God. Notice, too, that Joseph's success in politics and economics was the essential prelude to the captivity of Abraham's descendants. Grain and oil served as bait to lure Jehovah's chosen into a trap from which they could not escape by their own power.


Sixteenth Day Read Genesis 44-46


In recognizing the fearful threats posed by all the world's Egypts, never fall into the error of concluding that even a pharaoh can reign apart from the Creator who sustains all. The Egyptian captivity of the children of Israel was to the development of the chosen people what tragedy can be in the enlargement of an individual seeker for God.

    Short of entering into a state of utter hopelessness, neither a clan nor an individual is likely to cease trusting in human resources. It takes desolation and helplessness to cause surrender, so that rescue by the divine is attractive and acceptable. Thus it can be affirmed with joy that God himself led his own people into the land of Goshen, because even God cannot rescue his people until they enter a captivity so absolute that they recognize themselves as captives.


Seventeenth Day Read Genesis 47-50


Enslavement in Egypt was gradual. At first the settlers considered themselves lucky to be in a land where the ruler was worshipped as divine. They did not lose their liberty all at once but a bit at a time over a period of generations.

    Here is an example of the way people who are given freedom by their Creator drift into slavery, to false gods, and to dictatorship because of their habits and lusts. Yield a trifle here, retreat a bit there—nothing vital, mind you, just a reasonable concession to appetite or social pressure—and one day you will become aware of shackles that bind you hand and foot, fastened upon you so gradually that you failed to realize what was happening.


Exodus


The Book of Exodus is an account of historic events that transformed an enslaved tribe into a free nation. But because the tribesmen were people of the promise, the story is much more than mere history. It represents a specific instance—the instance in Hebrew history—through which a fundamental truth is expressed: God the Creator perpetually rescues his own from captivity to material forces and establishes them in a new land of promise so they may be free to keep their part of the divine-human covenant.

    Because Exodus uses events of history as means to convey truths of the faith, the book reveals its radiant message only when read with believing eyes. Among the rescued clansmen whose sandals were hardly dry after crossing the wet sands of the Red Sea, only Moses listened intently enough to hear God reveal himself more fully than he had to Abraham. Among those reading Exodus during the next two weeks, only the ones who plod their way through the wilderness with eager certainty that God is leading them will fall on their faces before the glory of the Creator revealed at some personal Sinai.


Eighteenth Day Read Exodus 1-3


Marvels and wonders are essential ingredients in this story, which is an account of the Creator's dealings with creatures made in his image. Where there is no mystery or awe or transcendent glory, there is no sense of the divine presence. So long as one regards the events of everyday life as wholly explainable—not too large or complex for men to know them in their entirety—there is no sensitivity to the more-than-human.

    Of all the incredible events in the career of Moses, perhaps the least emphasized is the paradox by which God used a prince from Pharaoh's household as his agent. By all logical standards, we would be tempted to think such a man would be the least likely instrument for the work of Providence. From the beginning of a career he did not choose but to which he was called, Moses was conscious that his highest task was obedience. It was divine power, not human, that was to set Abraham's descendants on the route back to the land of promise.


Nineteenth Day Read Exodus 4-6


Whether societal or individual, divine rescue is expensive. Its costs are great in terms of suffering and struggle, both divine and human. Instead of coming easily and quickly, rescue may be deferred through a series of delays.

    Indeed, the lot of one seeking rescue may become worse as he responds to God's overtures. No Egypt is left without straggle. No pharaoh releases his slaves at the first sign of restlessness. One reason so many persons elect to remain in their personal Egypts, rather than be led out by God, is that freedom comes at a high price, and it is not won without a long struggle, the plagues of which may be more agonizing than slavery.


Twentieth Day Read Exodus 7-9


Reading about stupendous acts of God, worked in a strange and ancient land, the modern reader is likely to be baffled. Why did Pharaoh prove so obstinate? How could he have been so blind? Is it possible that a man with intelligence to rule a great civilization refused to recognize God's sovereignty except in cataclysmic, death-dealing disaster?

    Remember, this is not merely the history of the Hebrews, but also salvation history. One of the qualities of divine truth is that it remains hidden from unbelievers. Two men look at the same plot of land; one takes off his shoes before the presence of his Creator, and the other calculates the cost of laying out a subdivision. Perhaps the most insistent message of these chapters is the warning: Are you playing the role of Pharaoh, obstinately refusing to seek the work of the one true God in events of your daily life? Will you stubbornly close your eyes until tragedy strikes inside the walls of your own house?


Twenty-first Day Read Exodus 10-12


Have you been struck by the insistence that God repeatedly hardened the heart of Pharaoh? The story seems to imply that divine forces were at work to prevent the Egyptian from seeing God's hand in national troubles. According to this line of thought, Pharaoh did not reject his opportunities by free choice but was forced by Providence to act as he did.

    Such an interpretation bypasses the heart of the message. Faith asserts that NOTHING is outside the realm of the Creator, and NOTHING is strong enough to defeat his purposes expressed in the covenant. (Paul gives a detailed interpretation of this matter in Romans 9.)

    No matter how powerful or clever or stubborn he may be, no human rebel against the government of God can succeed in overthrowing the divine rule. Regardless of how cruel or evil or warped a man may be, whatever he does is done within the context of Providence and not outside it. Because God's purposes cannot be thwarted, God succeeds in using any and all events for his glory and for the fulfillment of his covenant.

    References to God's hardening his heart do not relieve any pharaoh from responsibility for free choice. Rather, these are yet more triumphant assertions of faith, declaring that GOD IS NOT ALOOF EVEN FROM SUFFERING, TRAGEDY, AND DEFEAT. Regardless of what may take place within the stream of history, eyes of faith sparkle with joyous certainty that, somehow, this too is operating to effect a rescue, an exodus into a land of milk and honey, and ultimately victory.


Twenty-second Day Read Exodus 13-15


Throughout the history of Israel, up to and including the twentieth century A.D., many ceremonies and symbols have been linked with the Exodus. The Passover feast is a solemn ritual that reenacts God's "passing over" of the Hebrew houses on the night Egypt's firstborn were slain by the angel of death. Therefore, the seven days in which unleavened bread is eaten are days in which the celebrants are reminded that Jehovah is a God of rescue.

    Any attempt to penetrate to the depth of New Testament thought without some understanding of covenant events described in the Old Testament is futile. The bonds are clear between Calvary and the Exodus. Notice the foreshadowing of the gospel's central promise in the triumph song of Moses and his followers, which clearly emphasizes that the rescue from Egypt rested upon divine purchase (redemption) of the liberated ones (15:13, 16).

    Holy Communion is an adapted and modified form of the Passover feast, pointing to, and actually offering, divine rescue through spiritual participation in the death and resurrection of God's supreme agent—his Son. The communion bread points back to the unleavened bread of the Jews and through it to manna eaten in the wilderness, as well as to Jesus Christ's broken body. The communion cup offers not only the rescue made available through the Savior's shed blood but also the leading out from Egypt of the chosen people whose doorposts were smeared with blood. In the same fashion, to eyes of faith, the waters through which Noah passed point to the saving water of baptism (see I Peter 3:21).


Twenty-third Day Read Exodus 16-18


Once the problems of captivity were solved by divine intervention, Abraham's descendants found themselves facing a host of new ones. Though liberated—made into a new people—by acts of God, they were not thereby freed from the limitations of humanity. Instead, they quickly discovered that their entrance into the land of promise would come only after a long struggle.

    Once more we find that group rescue has many similarities to individual salvation. While struggling with enslavement to forces in whatever Egypt happens to hold us captive, we pant for liberty. But when freedom comes, those who become new persons in Christ Jesus find themselves confronted by a host of new problems. Individually and collectively, therefore, to cross the Jordan and enter Canaan requires not simply a single parting of the Red Sea by the hand of God, but also a faithful forty-year struggle to walk in the pathway designated by God.


Twenty-fourth Day Read Exodus 19-20


No doubt you will wish to read these chapters more than once because each time the revelation to Moses is pondered, new truths emerge. A lifetime devoted to considering the Ten Commandments is not sufficient to uncover all the spiritual treasure offered here.


Twenty-fifth Day Read Exodus 21-23


To a modern city dweller, these regulations seem more confusing than helpful. They do not apply to the world today. One of the problems linked with codes of law is that we must have laws to function as an organized society, but social changes make laws obsolete. Here is eloquent testimony about our incapacity to save ourselves. We cannot be governed by abstract principles alone. Regardless of how exalted these principles may be, specific laws based upon them must apply to specific conditions. Once those conditions change, the laws become empty.

    It was the fatal mistake of institutional Judaism to become immersed in a sea of legalism. But it is far easier to recognize this error than it is to escape the necessity of placing rules upon religious groups, cultures, and nations.

    As you consider this human dilemma today, think of some specific laws of Christian conduct that are accepted by other persons but that seem to you no longer applicable to actual conditions. Even if Moses, face to face with God, is limited in his ability to shape laws to govern human conduct, what does this say about a city council or a state legislature? Can you propose any human way out of the difficulty? Any divine solution?


Twenty-sixth Day Read Exodus 24-27


Both the glory and the mystery of the covenant is that we can accept God's gifts and know God through faith-powered experience, but we cannot describe, depict, or represent God so that he can be known by those who have not experienced him. This is the root of the prohibition of graven images. However deep his own religious experience, however great his skill with mallet and chisel, no sculptor can communicate truth about God without also suggesting falsehood.

    Today we accept this principle when applied to visual representations or idols. But we do not always recognize that precisely the same difficulties are attached to the use of words. It is because any description or name may become an "idol" that God gives so mysterious a reply to Moses' question at his first divine call (Exod. 3:13-15). Likewise, the name of the King of Kings is known only to himself (Rev. 19:12). To say that God is the beginning, or that he is the end, is a distortion. At the same time, he is both beginning and end. He is Alpha and Omega simultaneously (Rev. 1:8).

    In order to speak to one another about God, in order to engage in anything equivalent to what we now call "Christian education," we must have visual and verbal pointers toward truths that axe not fully contained. This is the function of the religious symbol. It serves as a handle by which we can begin to grasp low-level truths that come into fullness only through a personal encounter with God.

    For the Hebrew people, the ark of the covenant was a potent symbol. Made in costly and elaborate form, awe-inspiring and mysterious in its physical makeup, it was intended to point beyond itself to the divine-human covenant that is basic to the experience of the chosen people.


Twenty-seventh Day Read Exodus 28-31


Ceremonies, clothing, furniture, and food associated with religion always carry with them suggestions of the mysterious. That is also the case—particularly the case—with the vocabulary of religion. In worship we habitually use words to suggest meanings not ordinarily associated with those words in everyday speech.

    This matter once more points to both the glory and the limitedness of man. Through the symbols, ceremonies, and vocabulary of religion, we can cultivate our own spiritual sensitivity and initiate beginners into the mysteries of the faith. That is glorious. But the greater the degree of success, the wider the gap becomes between insiders and outsiders. A stranger not familiar with the language of faith is bewildered by words, ceremonies, and symbols of worship; these serve as roadblocks rather than as highways.

    Visualize the physical surroundings at your church and try to decide which things mean most to you and what effect they would have on a person without experience in Protestant worship. Should there be fewer candles, crosses, and flags, or more? Do you think verbalizations that might distract the novice should be discarded (for example, "washed in the blood")? Or should we hold fast to inherited symbols and try to help others discover their deepest meanings?


Twenty-eighth Day Read Exodus 32-34


Aaron's sin was not only a violation of the law against making an image of deity, it was also a concession to the popular desire for good things associated with Egypt. Never lose sight of the fact that salvation history, or the account of the divine-human covenant, deals as fully with man as with God. Divine readiness to rescue is always matched by human reluctance to make a full surrender.

    If you and I were less "stiff-necked" than we actually are, if the gap between God and man was not absolute, there would be no necessity for a plan of salvation. It is part of the fallacy (or rather, heresy) of much modern churchmanship to minimize the radical nature of salvation and to proclaim a religion of achievement. Guard with your life against falling into this perversion of the gospel. Today, this very hour, try to see more clearly what variety of golden calf you are tempted to worship in order to gain the bounty of the particular Egypt that beckons you most invitingly.


Twenty-ninth Day Read Exodus 35-37


Repetition of monotonous details must not blind us to deep truths in today's reading. Limited and prone to fail though we are, we can yet have a part in the glorifying of God. We can make our offerings to God with such free will and glad surrender that we add not only to the tangible apparatus of worship, but also to the glory of the Creator! Even though our feet become entangled in details of cutting acacia wood or meeting quotas assigned by the denomination, faithful self-giving through such media is part of the fulfillment of the covenant. It was for this that the world was established.


Thirtieth Day Read Exodus 38-40


Provided we open our eyes to God's presence in all that he has made, almost any event or object can serve to heighten our sense of wonder and mystery and holiness. From anointing oil to bronze fire pans, from fine-twined linen to gem-studded breastplates, any natural or manufactured thing can point to the all-powerful God through whom it exists and by whom it is sustained.

    The capacity to see God not only in holy articles associated with worship and inherited from previous generations, but also in the most commonplace and ordinary things of daily experience, is among the most sublime of faith-powered gifts (Rev. 5:13). Thanks be to God, here is a gift that can be cultivated! If you do not "see" God in fresh fashion today, in some strange or some very familiar experience, it is because you are not eagerly straining to find evidence of the Creator in every aspect of his creation.

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Table of Contents

Preface 7
Introduction 9
First Month: Genesis and Exodus 15
Second Month: Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges 33
Third Month: Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah 51
Fourth Month: Esther, Job, Psalms 1-89 71
Fifth Month: Psalms 90-150, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs 88
Sixth Month: Isaiah and Jeremiah 107
Seventh Month: From Lamentations through Malachi 129
Eighth Month: Matthew and Mark 150
Ninth Month: Luke and John 173
Tenth Month: Acts and Romans 193
Eleventh Month: From Corinthians through Philemon 217
Twelfth Month: Hebrews, Brief Letters, Revelation 240
Conclusion 265
Index 269
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