“Reading the Bible chronologically will benefit anyone who has had trouble making sense of the Old Testament.”

In the previous post, I made a plea for us to take Jesus seriously about the need that we have for a regular diet of God’s Word. To help you do so in 2019, I’d like to offer two suggestions for how you read your Bible in the new year.

Suggestion #1: 
Read Chronologically

This first suggestion isn’t revolutionary or novel, but I am often surprised by how few people I know choose to read the Bible in chronological order. Most Bible reading plans run straight from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. There’s nothing wrong with reading through the Bible this way, though it presents some unique challenges. The books in our English Bibles aren’t arranged in the order in which they were written, or in the order that the events took place. They are grouped together by types, which means that the narrative doesn’t flow from cover to cover like in most books. It becomes a challenge to keep the story’s thread in mind.

The Bible, after all, is a story. It’s God’s story, telling us about His glory displayed in our redemption. Reading the Bible chronologically helps us to see how His plan of salvation has been progressively unveiled through history. God’s promises for a Savior can be seen building on top of each other, until they are finally fulfilled in Jesus. It helps us to see the need that we have for God to act on our behalf. After reading through the Old Testament story, we become convinced of our desperate condition. It helps us to see the beauty of Christ. His character and work stand out in stark contrast to all of the biblical characters that come before or after His appearance in the Gospels.

Reading the Bible chronologically will benefit anyone who has had trouble making sense of the Old Testament. When we read through the Old Testament in the order that we find them in our Bibles, we tend to get a two-dimensional picture of what was going on. When you read through the narratives, you see a ton of despicable behavior by the characters. The question that enters our minds is, “Why would God be ok with such things?” It is easy to imagine that He gave implicit approval for what we are reading, which leads to some troubling questions about His character. 

When you read through the prophets, you see a ton of condemnation aimed at the people. The question that many of us ask is, “Why is God so angry?” It is easy to picture Him as vengeful to the point of cruelty, which also leads to a whole new set of troubling questions about His character. 

When you read through the Writings, it can be a confusing grab bag. On one page, the psalmist declares the wonder of God’s love and protection. On the next, you read cries of lament and despair. In this one section of the Bible, you find Job, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. Can you imagine a more drastic set of views on life?

Reading the Bible chronologically takes these individual strands and weaves them into the tapestry that tells God’s story. The wickedness in the narratives is met by God’s verdict and judgment in the Prophets, and the righteous that are caught in the middle provide praise of God’s goodness, laments over the realities that they must suffer through, and godly wisdom for doing so. Reading chronologically helps us to see the whole picture.

There are a number of chronological reading plans available, and even printed Bibles that are arranged chronologically to make it easier for you. Happy reading!


Read final post in series: Reading Faster >>

Zach Nix

Zach is a member of Cornerstone and serves as a teacher and non-vocational elder.

Additional articles that might be of interest.