I began reading through the bible at least once every year for more than 25 years now and it has been a great blessing to my life and ministry. Let me suggest 5 reasons why all pastors and bible teachers would benefit from this spiritual discipline.
1. It helps us see the whole story. How does the OT and NT fit together? After 7 or 8 times through the bible you will begin to see that better. I visited my grandmother while in seminary. She was a Sunday School teacher and so she peppered me with questions wanting to better teach her class. I knew some things she didn’t know- Greek and Hebrew and such. But I quickly realized that she knew the bible in a way I didn’t yet because she read it so much. I determined to know the bible like that.
2. It gives us a sense of context. Taking the bible out of context is bad and sometimes it is downright dangerous. Reading it many times helps us to keep the bible in context- the larger context and the more particular context. I underline verses that speak to me and still memorize scripture. But reading in bulk helps me with context and context helps me with accurate interpretation and accurate interpretation helps me with effective bible teaching.
3. It reminds us of stories and lessons we forget. Remember Benaiah the brave son of Jehoiada who “went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion”? We need to be reminded of that great but lesser known story. If you read the bible every year, no matter in what order you do so, you won’t go two years without reading and remembering stories and lessons like that. Those updated readings are like being reunited with old friends that you haven’t seen in a while.
4. It keeps us from focusing only on our favorite parts. I could preach and teach on my favorite themes and stories over and over. But reading the bible in bulk helps me to expand my focus to other themes and different stories. Having been pastor at the same church for more than 21 years now it is healthy for me and our church that I not preach from Philippians each Sunday.
5. It keeps us biblically literate. I am amazed how often the verses I read in my morning bible time applies to something I face that day. God’s word teaches me about all kinds of subjects and gives me strength for all kinds of situations. I want to know the bible theologically. But I want my understanding of the bible to come from more than text books. Reading God’s word in bulk helps me to know it. Not just to know about it but to know it.
So, pastors and bible teachers, consider reading the bible through each year. And perhaps read the New Testament even more frequently. A decade or two from now I think you will find it to have been greatly beneficial and deeply rewarding.