So I had to laboriously flip through the channels, one by one, until I found it.
Do you ever drive through a new city but can’t find a radio station you want? Or go to your library but can’t locate Juvenile Biographies?
Or been asked to read Micah 6:8 aloud in Sunday School, but you can’t find it (it’s after Jonah, before Nahum)?
Just how well do we know the bones of our Bible?
Or I can google a few key words and find the scripture I need. Or if I have to, I can always flip to the Table of Contents in my hardcopy Bible.
Who needs to memorize the books of the Bible anymore?
And now as much as ever.
When we trade in our human memory for a digital one, we lose advantages of knowing our way around a Bible.
Why learn the bones?
1. See the big picture
Without knowing the overall skeleton, you can lose sight of the central theme of God’s consistent love that holds the Bible together. When you work a jigsaw puzzle, you look at the picture on the box first–and often, then you put the edge pieces in place for its structure.
2. Delight in details
But while the Bible is one big love story about God, it’s also a series. Many smaller stories are captured in its 66 individual books. Each story holds value. By keeping books in context (Song of Solomon is a book of poetry; Ezekiel is a major prophet), you can more accurately interpret what you’re reading and can better apply it to your life.
3. Look for help
Once you know the general order of the books, you can look more efficiently for specific helps. If you have a friend in deep mourning, direct her to the Psalms for comfort. Or if you’re struggling with a child’s rebellion, turn to Proverbs for wisdom. Be prepared for opportunities.
4. Use it easier
The more familiar you are with the books (Luke come before Acts), the easier it is to find your way around. You’ll be less frustrated when looking up verses to share and you’ll waste less time in your studies.
5. Find your story
Will you be more Christlike by memorizing the books of the Bible? Probably not. But the more you know the book, the more you’ll know the Author. And you’ll discover easier how he wants YOU to participate in the story.
Where to start
Begin with the big bones. Memorize how the library is set up: two main divisions (Old and New Testaments), then subdivided into smaller sections (books of Law, books of History, etc). While these are man-made categories, they’re still helpful in interpreting that poetry books are more metaphorical, for example, and that Pauline epistles are doctrinally-rich and very practical.
Then, if you haven’t already, memorize all 66 books. It’s not too late. And it’s not that difficult (music helps greatly!).
To go even deeper, learn a summary from each book; read more about the approximate 40 authors; put together a timeline.
God has breathed life into the bones of the Bible.
It’s his book for our lifetime.
Let’s put it in our heart for eternity.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Some of my favorites:
Bible Gateway – a searchable online Bible in over 100 versions
E-Sword – free downloadable Bible study software
Katie’s top 10 online Bible study tools
66 Love Letters by Dr. Larry Crabb
What the Bible Is All About for Young Explorers based on the classic by Dr. Henrietta Mears
Reproducible Maps, Charts, Time Lines & Illustrations by Gospel Light
How familiar are you with the overall structure of the Bible?
Are you teaching your children the books of the Bible?
What’s your favorite Bible study resource? Please share!