Sometimes I have thoughts and share them before I have a chance to really consider the full ramifications. Thoughts like this one:
“I wonder what it would be like to read the Bible in 90 days?”
I thought that thought, and then shared that thought not only with my wife, but with our home church group too, a couple of whom decided that I had not lost my mind but wanted to join us on this endeavor. And in a fit of one-up-manship, my wife decided that to read the Bible in 90 days is one thing, but to read it chronologically? Well, that would surely elevate us to the level of SuperChristian*, the heady heights of which we could only previously imagine.
I saw Zondervan has a whole kit from which to work if you like the New International Version, but I’m an English Standard Version man. I recommend it to anyone who asks, and having been immersed in it intensely this summer, I stand by my conviction that this is the best single translation you can use. I always like having multiple translations available, but if there was only one open to me, I would want the ESV.
Armed with a chronological outline and a copy of Logos 4, I assembled our reading plan to begin on the first day of June and we have been reading every day until the culmination last Sunday night when we read the entire Revelation of John aloud to each other.
The reading took between 30 minutes and an hour every day, and that was reading at a good pace. We are also all doing a devotional reading plan that takes us through the New Testament every year and the Old Testament every two years, reading Monday through Friday. That devotional way of reading is markedly different from the 90 day reading plan style. The devotional aspect allows for up close, intimate reflection on a text and is designed to draw questions and personal response to the Lord as you read. But reading the whole Bible in a short period of time paints with much grander brush strokes. The themes are bolder, the connectivity is well defined, and the glory of God radiates from first to last. This is an excellent way to survey the whole Bible and see how the Old Testament speaks of the same God we have revealed in the New Testament.
As an exercise in discipline, there’s not much like it in our modern culture. To take three months and commit a good chunk of the non-working hours to reading really sets a tone for what is important in your life. The things you don’t miss (like the 20-odd television shows you used to “have” to watch) are now put in perspective, and the reward of reading so much about God in such a condensed time period happens on many levels. These are all subjectively mine, but firstly there’s the keener sense of God’s holiness and justice, and man’s sinfulness. As a result, secondly, we see grace on display in even more scandalous terms. I even saw grace in the Law, as God lovingly provides a way for man, who likes to keep things organized and systematic, to be sure of his own forgiveness as he follows the things God has decreed. The sacrificial system foreshadows Christ and leaves man inwardly sure of his own standing with God by faith in what God has ordained. And most wonderfully I saw the glory of Christ from Genesis through Revelation, and having tasted that, I am more sure than ever of the veracity of the Scriptures.
Reading things in a chronological form was also a great experience. To have the history and the prophets intertwined was probably more illuminating that just reading a commentary on the particular Scripture being read. Likewise, seeing the gospels harmonized was powerful because they are in such agreement with one another and provide such an expansive vision of Jesus, His message and His mission.
I am absolutely thrilled we stuck this out – there were indeed times that I was doing leg-lifts and Sarah was doing situps whilst reading in order to push through the temptation to stop reading – but ultimately this has been one of the most rewarding enterprises we’ve undertaken together, and it was especially good to be sharing it with friends. We are already in talks about how to usher other people into the madness next year, so if you’re feeling inspired, here’s a link to a 90 Day plan by day. Let me know if you decide to take the plunge!
* Please think very carefully before posting a comment that takes this designation seriously. You might instead consider it to be an outworking of my English penchant for veiled sarcasm…