Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105
On December 31, I will read John’s final words of the book of Revelation and, as a result, will have read the entire Bible this year – all 31,000+ verses in 1,189 chapters in 66 books.
I’m actually reading it chronologically. Since the Bible as it’s traditionally printed isn’t presented in chronological order (for example, most Bible scholars think the events in Job happened sometime after the flood but before Abraham – not after the story of Esther), I jumped around to read things in the order they probably happened (as close as possible). For example, after reading in 1 Samuel 19 how David went on the lam after King Saul tried to have him killed, the next thing I read was Psalm 59, where David writes:
Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me.
Totally puts that particular Psalm in perspective, doesn’t it?
And after reading about Paul’s first missionary journey throughout the province of Galatia in Acts, I stopped right there in the middle of the book and jumped over to read his letter to all the Galatian Christians who were members of the churches he and Barnabus planted during their time spent in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Derbe.
This is actually my second time to read the Bible through. I read it a couple of years ago as a new Christian, so some parts were still a little fuzzy. Now, though, after two years of studying and reading and spiritual growth, this time through the Bible truly came alive – and it’s amazing.
The Bible is filled with…
- History (practically the entire thing)
- Romance (Ruth and Boaz)
- Comedy (Balaam in Numbers 22)
- Action/Adventure (crossing the Red Sea)
- Intrigue (the spies in Jericho)
- War stories (the fall of Jericho)
- Legal thrillers (Jesus’ trial)
- Fantastical tales bordering on science fiction (except they’re all true)
- Time travel (John transported to the end times in Revelation)
- Transformation (Paul’s encounter with Jesus)
- Redemption (the entire New Testament)
…all in one volume.
Interestingly, I grew up being exposed to the Bible on a regular basis. I memorized some Bible verses, like John 11:35: “Jesus wept.” I knew Matthew talked about the wise men and Luke talked about the shepherds. (I watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” enough to be able to recite that whole passage in Luke 2 right along with Linus.) I knew Revelation was complicated and little scary. I could name all the books of the Bible in order. (I actually learned to sing the books of the New Testament: ”Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts, and the Romans…” Even now, I find myself humming that tune in my head when I’m trying to find Colossians.)
But beyond all that, I didn’t get it.
- I didn’t get the basics, like why the children of Israel were called that or what God meant when He referred to Himself as “I AM.”
- I didn’t get any of the cultural/historical significance, like why the parable of the Good Samaritan rubbed all the Jewish leaders the wrong way, or even who the Samaritans were.
- I actually didn’t get any of the parables, like the fact that the parable of the forgiving king and the unforgiving servant was a picture of God’s incredible grace and forgiveness and an illustration of why we should do likewise.
- None of Paul’s letters – the foundation of the Christian faith – did much for me.
Back then, it didn’t mean anything to me – no light bulb ever went on in the cartoon thought bubble above my head.
I used to blame it on the hard to understand King James translation, or preachers who preached too loud, but the reason it went in one ear and out the other – the reason no light ever broke through – was that I was still stumbling around in the dark, lost and a stranger to God and His promises. Jesus often said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Apparently my ears were tuned to another voice – and it wasn’t the voice of Jesus.
But in June of 2010 I became a Christian. That light bulb went on and the darkness was shattered – forever. (Here is more of that particular story.) In John 8:12 Jesus as much as said that would happen:
“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
That includes me (and, hopefully, you). But, you may ask, how does one get from the initial act of becoming a follower of Jesus to someone who can actually understand and apply what’s written in the Bible?
I’m glad you asked.
The author of Psalm 199, verse 105 (most likely David) writes…
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
…which makes me think of John chapter 1, one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible (in my opinion). Right at the beginning of his gospel, John writes about Jesus (who he calls “the Word”). Here are some excerpts:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness…The Word became flesh…full of grace and truth.
Wow; tell me that’s not amazing to ponder.
So just “thinking out loud” here…
Jesus is God…the Word…the Creator…bringer of life and light… light that shines in the darkness…my darkness… He is full of truth…
He is the Word that is a light for my path…
By becoming a follower of Jesus I gained not only the words in the Bible, but the author of those words, the Word himself. And the Word, the author of those words, is the light that illuminates those words and their truth.
“Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness…”
Previously mysterious parables and symbols and metaphors merely skimmed over by someone who was walking in darkness (me) now illustrate eternal truths and shed light on living realities to that same person – a person whose path is now brightly lit.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy (3:16) he says that:
All scripture is God breathed.
When I’m reading the words of the Bible I’m literally hearing God speaking to me.
So understanding the Bible takes no special skill; you just have to know the author…
…and He’ll do the rest.