Sundays @ 10:00am at Dexter McCarty Middle School

GBC Bible Reading Plan Jan 28-Feb 3

GBC Blog (14)

Week 5, January 28-February 3: Exodus 27-40; Matthew 1-6

  • Sun Jan 28: Exod 27-28
  • Mon Jan 29: Exod 29-31
  • Tue Jan 30: Exod 32-34
  • Wed Jan 31: Exod 35-37
  • Thu Feb 1: Exod 38-40
  • Fri Feb 2: Matt 1-3
  • Sat Feb 3: Matt 4-6

This reading plan generally follows the sequence of the biblical books as we find them in our Bibles. However, we do mix things up a bit and move back and forth between the Old and New Testaments. This is why we will read Matthew after finishing Genesis and Exodus, then go back and pick up in Leviticus in the Pentateuch. Some reading plans go back and forth more quickly, or they include OT and NT readings each day. There are some good reasons to do that, but we did it the way we did so we could keep it simpler and so we can read each book in its entirety before moving to another book. This way we can more easily trace the plot of the story or thought progression of each book from day to day, and we can see the ways the books relate to each other and how they’ve been meaningfully arranged in order.

When we do switch from the OT to the NT, or back to the OT, it means we might miss the continuity between OT books (for example, reading Matthew between Exodus and Leviticus). But by interspersing NT books between some of the OT books, it gives a bit more variety and allows us to get into the NT earlier in the year than if we read through the whole OT first.

The latter portion of Exodus is dedicated in large part to the tabernacle, its instructions and construction. While Moses was with the Lord on Mt. Sinai, God gave him instructions for the tent that would serve as a mobile sanctuary. It would be the dwelling place for the Lord’s presence while the Israelites were in the wilderness, before a more permanent temple was built in the Promised Land. This section in Exodus contains one of the saddest displays of sin in all the Bible, and it is God’s own people, who he just delivered from slavery in Egypt, who fall into idolatrous rebellion. They build and bow to a golden calf while Moses is meeting with God on Mt. Sinai. Also in this section, in the context of the golden calf story, we read perhaps the most definitive and profound statement of God’s character, spoken from the Lord himself.

The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:6–7)

The Gospel of Matthew begins the NT with a genealogy, listing the generations from Abraham through David to Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. The genealogy is just one of several ways Matthew’s Gospel links back to Genesis and to the Pentateuch. We see clearly from the very first verses of Matthew that the whole Bible—what we call the canon of Scripture—fits together as a unified whole. And the focal point of the canon is Jesus, the incarnate Son of God. The climax of the story of the whole Bible is Christ coming in the flesh to dwell with his people as Immanuel, God with us (Matt 1:23). As we read in Matthew, and the other Gospels, we will see how Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection fulfills all the hopes and expectations we are reading about in the OT portion of the read thru.

We have been considering the purposes for doing a read thru like this, reflecting first on the point that we are doing this to meet with God regularly and hear what he has to say. We follow Jesus’ commands to abide in him by reading his word regularly. Now, I said earlier that someone calculated that you could read through the whole Bible in approximately 75 hours. I suppose you could skip work or school for a week, find a secluded place, and just read for several hours a day and get through it in a few days. There would certainly be a lot of benefit to that, but it’s not the same as reading a manageable portion regularly, daily, or at least most days.

I think we can see a helpful analogy in the principle of manna. We just read, in Exodus 16, about God miraculously providing manna for the Israelites in the wilderness. He sent it every day for six days a week, and he instructed them to collect a certain portion each day, enough for each member of the household. But they were not to collect more than the allotted portion for one day, and they were not to leave it over to the next day (except on the sixth day, when they were to gather twice as much in preparation for the Sabbath). Day after day, for 40 years, the Lord gave just what they needed, not more and not less. They were simply to obey his instructions to gather the manna daily, and they were to trust that he would provide what was needed for their nourishment again the next day.

In a similar way, by spending time regularly, daily reading the Bible to hear from him, we are nourished with the spiritual bread of Scripture. In this week’s reading in Matthew, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy and says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4, citing Deut. 8:3) We can trust that he will feed and sustain us by his word, and we don’t need to worry that we’re not getting totally stuffed as full as we could get all at once. He will keep providing, each day giving just what we need for that day through the nourishment of the Bible. We pray as Jesus instructed his disciples to pray, asking that he would give us this day our daily bread (Matt. 6:11). And we can trust that he will provide the spiritual sustenance we need through the bread of his word.

When we order our day around reading his word, it means we are making it a priority to receive what he has graciously given to us. It is an investment of time, and it’s okay to admit that it can seem like another task in our already busy lives. But I think we will find that as we make it a priority and a regular part of our day, he will honor that, and it will become a joyful habit instead of a monotonous chore. It may even become the part of our day we look forward to most. Next week we will reflect more on the idea of cultivating the habit of Bible reading and how it helps us grow in a lifelong journey of knowing God through Scripture.