The Case for Reading the Best Book of all Time
When I was in elementary school, I tried reading through the Bible. I started in Genesis, and I’m not sure I got any further than that.
There are probably a ton of people who have started in Genesis and gotten bogged down pretty quickly. They might quit in Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy.
The Bible is hard to get through. A lot of people don’t even try to read the whole thing; they just read bits and pieces and think that there’s a lot of good stuff in there, but also some bad stuff.
It wasn’t until I read through the whole Bible that I got a grip on it being a cohesive book that actually seems to fit together.
To read it: Try starting in the New Testament. It’s towards the back of the Bible. For simplicity’s sake, start in the book of Matthew: the first book of the New Testament. It’s the story of Jesus: his birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
There is so much wisdom in the Bible. If there is wisdom anywhere else, I would be surprised if its roots weren’t found in the Bible.
Many people think it would take way too long to read the Bible, and it can take a really long time. It took me a few years the first time, but it was worth it.
Think about what’s lacking in our culture: wisdom, morality, patience, goodness, truth, love, and timing; all of these things are discussed in the Bible. Many times they are discussed indirectly, through a story.
Solomon was given wisdom from God, in Proverbs 1:7 he wrote/said,
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NASB)
Jesus is the perfect example of a moral life. In Matthew 5:38-42 he said,
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. (NASB)
Jesus claimed to be the truth and a whole lot more, when he said in John 14:6,
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (NASB)
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 talks about timing:
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven —
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace. (NASB)
The wisdom and truth contained in the Bible is so vast that I don’t think anyone other than Jesus has come close to absorbing it all in their life on Earth. The quotes above are just a tiny portion of the wisdom in the Bible. What are we missing if we aren’t studying it regularly?
Even if you don’t believe in God or believe in Jesus, I would challenge you to still read the Bible. Millions of people through the ages have considered it the most important book of all time, so that alone should make you give it a second thought. But beyond this, I would challenge you to find some bit of wisdom that is not contained in the Bible.
Do me a favor: read through the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These four books combined are about 64,767 words long in the original languages, or about 236 pages at 275 words per page. So it’s as long as a typical novel. That’s doable, right?
Each of the four books take a look at the life and times of Jesus from a different angle. If you read those four, I have a feeling you will have gained and learned more than you expected you would. Feel free to read more. If you haven’t gained a lot out of it, then I would say congratulations on reading some of the most important parts of the best book ever written. You can tick it off your bucket list. Thank you for doing it.
A note before you read the Bible: The original Bible was written mostly in Hebrew and Greek, so I recommend getting an English translation. Some translations can be very hard to read, like the original King James version. I recommend an easy-to-read version, such as the New Living Translation or NLT. From what I’ve read of it, it reads more like a well-written novel, and is almost poetic. But there are a lot of options, so don’t feel like you’re limited if you don’t like the version you’re reading.
Reading the first four books of the New Testament lets you tap into a fraction of the wisdom contained in the pages of the Bible, but a very important fraction… perhaps the best fraction. I’m the type of person who wants the best of everything: I want to read the best books, watch the best movies, eat the best food, get the best sleep, have the best wife, do the best things, buy the best things, see the best things, know the best things, and do things in the best way possible. I’m proud to say that I’ve read the best book ever written, and I hope that you can say the same.
Bible quotations labelled as (NASB) and taken from:
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
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(I wrote a newish article about the future… perhaps there will be jobs after all)