I tossed my Bible aside in frustration. What on earth did Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Abijam, Asa, Nadab, and a series of other kings whose names I couldn’t pronounce have to do with me?
It was the year I set a goal to read through the entire Bible chronologically. I had sailed through Genesis, trudged through the temple construction in Exodus, and powered through the endless laws for worship and cleansing in Leviticus. But my perseverance was drying up in 1 Kings. There were so many evil kings who did evil things leading an evil nation in a time and place I didn’t understand. All I wanted was a warm word to make me smile and tuck in my pocket for the day—something about God’s endless love for me, perhaps?
This feeling of disappointment or frustration in personal Bible study is all too common even among good Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-fish-toting Christians. Since the Bible was written in an ancient era for ancient people, it can seem far removed from our 21st century, technology-saturated age. We struggle to make connections between their world and ours. And to be frank, don’t we all just want a word of direction or comfort or inspiration?
A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE
It has been many years since the day I tossed my Bible. Many years spent persevering in a personal Bible study plan, faithfully opening my Bible day after day and seeking to know God and understand His Word.
I know now what I didn’t know then. The Bible is not a book about me.
This undeniable truth might be as startling to you as it was to me. But it is true. In fact, the proof is in the first four words of the holy Scriptures. “In the beginning God …” It does not say, “In the beginning _________” (insert your name here).
Far too often we approach the Bible for what it says about us. What does it say about ‘my’ relationship with God? What does it say about this decision ‘I’ need to make? How can it encourage ‘me’ today? But while the Bible does address these things, it is not primarily a book about us. It is a book about God. SEEKING TO KNOW THE AUTHOR
So instead of approaching our Bible reading time from a self-focused perspective, we would do better to begin searching its pages for what it has to say about God. And the beautiful reality is, when we seek to know the Author of the book, we will naturally understand ourselves better. Clarity around our place in God’s kingdom narrative comes when we seek the Kingdom first.
This approach to personal Bible reading, formally known as theocentric reading, will transform the way you interact with the Scriptures. When we open God’s Word looking for what it has to say about Him—His character and His ways—our Bible study time is transformed. Our eyes are opened to the majesty and glory of the Creator of the universe. Our minds are stretched to fathom all He is and all He has done. And our hearts are expanded with love for Him.
SEEKING GOD IN THE SCRIPTURES
Theocentric reading of the Bible comes more naturally in poetic books like the Psalms or gospel-focused books like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But what about Joel or Jeremiah or 1 Kings? Where do we find God in those books?
To begin training our eyes to search for glimpses of God on every page, let’s look at a few obscure passages to see what they might teach us about the character and ways of God.
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Do you want an overview of what God is doing throughout Scripture? Check out the Story of Redemption Bible Reading Plan.