Reading the Old Testament is Difficult

My Bible reading plan has me in the book of Isaiah. This book contains 66 chapters and trying to read 4-5 chapters a day means I will be here for over two weeks straight. Can I be honest? It is killing me. At times it is confusing, other times boring, and frequently shocking. I am working through it this month, and I will finish it, but it will come only through determination.

Does any of this sound familiar? Have you ever struggled to read through your Bible, especially the Old Testament? Have you ever wanted to give up on your Old Testament and skip through to Matthew one? Me too.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you read through the boring parts of the Old Testament, particularly the book of Isaiah.

1. Look for the Big Picture. I read that the book of Isaiah has eight major sections and is not written chronologically and can be very confusing. That is the truth. For me, I try to focus on the big picture. I have found at least four themes in this book and much of the Old Testament:
1) God’s plan and purpose.
2) Current events (to them) as judgment or blessing.
3) The coming of Jesus and a new era.
4) The last days and God’s final judgment.
I try not to get lost in all of the minute descriptions and poetic language of the prophets. I try to see the big picture of what God is doing and saying.

2. Study What is Most Difficult. The Bible I am reading right now is a type of study Bible. It allows me to read little one-page descriptions of topics I might miss. There are dozens of resources out there to help you understand any part of the Bible, take the time to study if you want to know more. Ask questions, take notes and dig deep. I know of a guy reading through Isaiah and is studying every line. He plans for it to take well over a year.

3. Notice the New Testament Connection. The book of Isaiah is quoted 55 times in the New Testament. There is a connection made through the coming of the Messiah. They were looking forward to a hope that we now look back on. I try to listen carefully to hear the hope of Jesus in any passage.

4. Write Down Some Takeaways. There are some great lines in every book of the Bible. Just today in Isaiah 44 I read a story about a man taking a piece of wood and cooking lunch over part of it and then making the other part an idol. The point is the foolishness of man to see one piece of wood in two different ways. Wood is wood no matter how you fashion it. There are several levels of application to all of my possession and worship. Look for the one line or chapter that can touch your life today.

5. Ignore Some Parts of It. Yes, I know it is God’s word, but oracles concerning Tyre and Sidon have little application for me. If I do not find something meaningful in a chapter, I move on without regret.

I hope that you will one day read the Bible. If you do, there are parts that will be a struggle to read. Develop a plan and move forward as best you are able. You can spend a lot of time looking at every word or move quickly looking for the big picture. Either one is beneficial for your spiritual growth.

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