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The Bible Recap: A One-Year Guide to Reading and Understanding the Entire Bible

The Bible Recap: A One-Year Guide to Reading and Understanding the Entire Bible PDF

Author: Tara-Leigh Cobble

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers


Publish Date: November 3, 2020

ISBN-10: 0764237039

Pages: 752

File Type: Epub, PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

For years I struggled with Bible reading even though I was in full-time ministry. Not only was Scripture challenging to understand, but the challenge also left me with a lack of desire. Every day I felt defeated before I even started, and many days I didn’t start at all. Eventually, I learned I was making three primary mistakes that held me back from understanding and loving Scripture.

Mistake #1

My first major mistake was looking for myself. I viewed the Bible as a big to-do list, and if I checked all the right boxes, God would respond by fulfilling all my desires. I approached the Bible primarily to get my application points, feel like a good, moral person, and move on. Reading Scripture as a story about God—not me—felt unnatural at first, so I started asking myself a few questions to narrow my focus:

  • What does God say or do in this passage?
  • What does this reveal about what God loves?
  • What does this reveal about what God hates?
  • What does this reveal about what motivates God to do what He does?
  • In all of that, what attributes of God are displayed?

The questions we ask of the Bible impact the wisdom we glean from it. Reading the Bible is not a means to self-help or an attempt to earn God’s favor. It’s an opportunity to behold the beauty of God and be drawn in by Him.

Mistake #2

My second major mistake stemmed from mistake #1. Since I was only looking for the steps I needed to take to appease God and have a perfect, joy-filled life, I hovered over the same passages of Scripture and disregarded the rest. There were so many old laws we no longer follow and passages about people with names I couldn’t pronounce—those parts confused or bored me. But my standard approach had me dropping down in the middle of a movie and staying for five minutes, with no real idea of the story line or who the characters were, and hoping to understand it. Not only is it impossible to understand something when you handle it that way, but it’s also impossible to love it.

To correct this mistake, I decided to read through Scripture chronologically, not front to back. I wanted to see the overall story line or metanarrative. I began each book by identifying who wrote it, when they wrote it, whom they wrote it to, and what style they wrote it in. The Bible has sixty-six individual books that together tell one story, but they’re from a wide variety of vantage points and styles—narrative history, poetry, prophecy—and much to my initial dismay, the bulk of it is not promises or action points. Most of it serves to tell me a story about God and His unshakeable love for His people.

Reading the story in order and paying attention to the context helped me make sense of verses that appear to contradict each other. I also learned how to sift through the confusing passages to find God’s character.

Mistake #3

My first two mistakes worked together to create my other major mistake: drawing conclusions about God before I’d read the whole Bible. Since I had primarily read Scripture for selfish reasons, I was impatient and didn’t take time to read it all. That was a dangerous approach because I didn’t have all the information. I was tempted to build a theology around one verse without knowing what other verses had to say. I was tempted to read every verse as a command, even if the verse was just describing what was happening. I wanted quick answers, and I didn’t take the time to consider context or evaluate the verses against the rest of Scripture to see the fullness of God’s revealed counsel.

The Bible is the story of God pursuing His people despite their sin. Bit by bit, we see Him giving them more information about who He is and who He is making them into. But it isn’t all revealed at once, because they can’t handle it all at once. He’s patient with them, giving them baby steps. For instance, it’s easy to read through parts of the Old Testament and conclude that God is angry and wants to kill anyone who disobeys Him. But when we zoom out and read the whole story, we see a through line of grace and mercy and rescue.

It required patience to hold my questions and conclusions with an open hand and continue to ask God to guide me in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding as I read each day. Some of the questions I had in Leviticus weren’t answered until Hebrews. But all good relationships require patience, and they develop over time. It’s worth holding some things with an open hand and waiting until God reveals more of Himself.

I spent years trying to build my life around a book I hadn’t read about a God I didn’t know. But now that I really know Him, I want to help others know Him better too!

By the way, I’m not an academic. I didn’t go to seminary, and I’ll only occasionally mention what the original Hebrew might mean, and even then, chances are I don’t know how to pronounce it. I’ve learned much of what I know by studying and listening to a variety of scholars, so any wisdom you find in this book certainly didn’t originate with me, but if you do happen to spot an error, it’s likely mine.

Overall, my approach in this book will be less like a scholarly Bible commentary and more like an overview and a highlight reel rolled into one. What that means is, I’m less inclined to tell you about archaeological details and more inclined to point to the character of God as revealed in that day’s reading. I want to help you learn how to find and see and know God and His character more than anything else. I don’t care if you never know what year the temple was built and destroyed and rebuilt and redestroyed—those are great details to be aware of, but they will never serve you like the personal knowledge of God. They will never bring you joy or sustain you in trials. They will never draw you in to spend more time with God out of sheer joy and delight.

Here’s what I’m imagining for you this year: Picture yourself being drawn to God and His character instead of feeling alienated by the God of the Old Testament. Imagine understanding the motives behind His actions instead of feeling confused or even frustrated by what He does. Picture yourself actually hearing from God in His Word directly and feeling closer to and more intimate with Him than you ever have before—just because you’ve committed to spending the first 1 percent of your day with Him. If all you gain from this is one new insight about God, that insight could change the rest of your life and your relationship with Him. And no matter how your circumstances change, I believe your joy will grow deeper and richer, because you will be spending time with Him—and He’s where the joy is!

For the gospel,


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