Looking for some good books to curl up with on the couch during those cold winter evenings? Maybe you like adventure stories. Or is it history you like? How about drama or romance? Maybe philosophy, psychology, or inspirational writings appeal to you.
Whatever your preferences, let me recommend one volume that has it all: The Bible.
The Bible has been called God’s “Unfolding Drama of Redemption,” and that it is. The Bible reveals the nature of God and his plan for mankind progressively through the ages. The remarkable thing is that God used a broad variety of literary forms and authors to accomplish that task. Here are some of the literary forms and subjects represented in the Bible:
Drama : Job, Song of Solomon, Jonah
Romance: Song of Solomon, Ruth
History: Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, portions of Isaiah and Jeremiah, Acts
Narrative: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Ruth, Esther, the Gospels, Acts
Poetry: Psalms, selected passages from the Song of Solomon and the prophets
Prophecy: The major and minor prophets, portions of the Gospels and Epistles, Revelation
Letters: Epistles to churches, General Epistles, personal letters of Paul and John
Journals: Ezra, Nehemiah, parts of Acts
Philosophy: Ecclesiastes, Proverbs
Fiction: (Yes, fiction, used to illustrate spiritual lessons) The Parables of Jesus and of some Old Testament prophets.
In the Bible you will find literature that will keep you on the edge of your seat, stir up your indignation, or move you to tears. I always get a lump in my throat when I read of Jacob’s reunion with his brother Esau (Genesis 33:1-4). Ruth’s deep, unwavering devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi, and Boaz’s love for Ruth make that book an incomparable classic.
When I want to reflect on life, to be challenged concerning my values, Solomon always comes through in his philosophical work, Ecclesiastes, and in his book of wisdom, Proverbs. David and other psalmists give my heart and spirit a voice of prayer and praise, and Job helps me understand God and the reasons for suffering.
The Old Testament prophets inveigh against the same evils that plague our society today, and they offer hope of a new kingdom of righteousness through Messiah. That new hope is unveiled in the Gospels that tell of Messiah Jesus, and in the Epistles that illuminate the deep spiritual meaning of new life in Christ. God’s plan is consummated in the Book of Revelation, which concludes with a stunning and highly symbolic description of the New Heaven and the New Earth.
It’s safe to say that you won’t find more compelling reading between two covers than you’ll find in the Bible. I suggest that you read through it in 2014. Get a translation that is “essentially literal,” that is, one that seeks to be faithful to the original words of Scripture. Some essentially literal translations are the following: The New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version, the New King James Version, and (for those who can handle 17th century English) the King James Version (still considered the most literary translation ever made). I must also mention that the Geneva Bible is still in print, and it predates the King James Version.
I would also recommend that you read a few chapters in the Old Testament and one in the New every day. That way you get a breath of grace to relieve some of the heaviness of the Old Covenant and the people’s constant waywardness and sin.
Let’s get into the adventure! Start today!