I would have to say the number one obstacle that kept me from reading the Bible was not only intimidation but also discouragement from years of not understanding what I was reading.
Seems my whole life I had the deep desire to know God and read the Bible but I just didn’t know how to. The older I got the more embarrassed I was to voice that I needed help.
It would always go the same...I’d resolve to read the Bible every day and I’d start reading at the beginning...Genesis 1:1. I mean, why wouldn’t you start there? It’s a book and I was taught you read a book from the beginning to the end.
Aaaaand every time, I would get a ways into Genesis, maybe even make it to Exodus, I would either become disinterested, perplexed or confused.
It wasn’t until I learned three things that the pieces of the puzzle came together and it slowly began to make sense to me. But first, let me reassure you, everyone struggles with reading and understanding the Bible at times.
Here are the 3 things that I feel helped me:
1. When I realized it was okay to tell God I didn’t understand how to read the Bible, so I asked Him to help me better understand it. I prayed for Him to give me better understanding and the needed wisdom to read and understand His Word. Not just read it but read it in a way that it would begin to impact my day to day life and transform my heart.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
Also, as I look back I realize something else that helped me have “eyes to see” and understand. My heart had to be at a place where I realized I desperately needed a Savior and I needed The Words written in the Bible to guide me. I was making a mess of my life and was at the end of my rope. You see, when we are too full of ourselves and our abilities there is little room for God’s Words to enter in and transform our hearts.
2. I was amazed when I heard a Bible Study teacher reading scripture and I could actually understand what she was saying. It was relevant to my life! And, as if she knew exactly what I needed to hear, she went on to explain what translation of the Bible she was reading from. So, as soon as that study let out, I excitedly went to the Bible Bookstore and bought my first Non-King James Version of the Bible, a New International Version, and fell in love with it! It became my companion, my best friend and a light in my dark world!! I spent the next 10 years buried in it and I even slept with in when my anxiety would try to creep back in. I clung to that thing tightly through my looooooong single years that continued for 10 more years. It was me, God, my Bible and my church! It was wonderful!! ❤️ (I’ll share pictures of this beloved, trustworthy companion. I know it looks a mess, but it wasn’t just the Holy Bible...it was part of me. I encourage you to make your Bible your own)
3. Another big thing that helped me to better understand what I was reading was to learn how the Bible was put together and over time understanding a little history helped as well.
The Bible is broken up into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word Testament means Covenant, law or Promise.
So, the Old Testament was under the Old Covenant or Old law until Christ died. That was when we were set free from the requirements of the Law. Now enters in, Christ’s new Covenant Promise, which is where the New Testament picks up.
Here’s an excerpt from an article that explains it better than I can. “The Old Covenant required repeated, daily sacrifices of animals as a reminder of the people’s sin. But “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Under the New Covenant, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (verse 10), ending the need for animal sacrifices. “Where [sins and lawless acts] have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary” (verse 18).
Here’s the full article if you want a deeper understanding.
Now, understanding how the Bible is broken down further helps in understanding how to read it. The Bible as a whole is not necessarily Chronological, however, they are somewhat Chronological within a Book of the Bible and roughly sections of the Bible, as best as possible. Keep in mind, each book of the Bible was written by one or two authors over the course of their life, so you’re going to have some overlapping in time.
Old Testament Breakdown:
Books of Law: Genesis-Deuteronomy
These first 5 books of the Bible are also called the Pentateuch or Torah. If you notice throughout the Bible they refer to reading scriptures, this is what they are referring to. This was their Bible.
Books of History: Joshua-Esther
Poetry and Wisdom: Job-Song of Songs
Major Prophets: Isaiah-Daniel
Minor Prophets: Hosea-Malachi
Now for the best part...the New Testament:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the Gospels: The story of Jesus from the individual accounts of 4 of the Disciples who walked with Jesus. The accounts are the same yet slightly different, as it would be with any eyewitness account of told by individuals. We all see slightly different details yet the foundation of the account is all the same.
Acts: History and Introduction to the Epistles (letters to the Churches by Paul, who in acts is transformed from a man named Saul who persecuted Christians into a Christian who becomes the greatest Missionary ever)
Epistles: Letters to the Churches: Romans - 2 Thessalonians
These are letters Paul wrote to the churches and later to his friends, during his missionary journey. As you read these it’s important to keep in mind, as I mentioned before, he was once a persecuter of Christians. These letters, of course were written after his conversion and many of the letters were written while he, himself, was in prison and harshly persecuted for sharing the Gospel of Christ
Epistles: Letters Paul wrote to his friends) 1 Timothy - Philemon
General Letters: Hebrews - Jude
Revelations: End Times...prophecies
You’ll find when you understand the whole picture and story of the Bible and understand some of the history, it helps you to see its more than just another book. It comes to life in such a real and applicable way!! Dig in and find the hidden treasures.
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord...” Isaiah 45:3a
If you ever need help, feel free to reach out to me. I am in no way a theologian nor do I have any official Seminary degree or much Bible College to speak of but I do come to you with a Love for God and a Love for His Word and a History of my journey to finding God and better understanding His Word...that I love sharing to help others on their journey!