If there was ever a time men needed hope, it is now. So much unrest, turmoil and tragedy seem to have become a regular part of daily life. However, the Bible is a constant reminder that even in the midst of this world’s mess, our lives can be filled with HOPE. In his epistle to the saints in Rome, the apostle Paul wrote, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). Hope is to be found between the covers of your Bible.
This Bible reading plan will help you draw closer to God as you come to better understand the “big picture” of His will revealed by the Holy Spirit. Our goal is to help you understand the Bible’s over-arching theme as it pertains to redemption and hope for an eternal reward. This Bible reading plan is designed to keep the redemption story foremost in the reader’s mind. Our wish is that you will commit yourself to daily Bible study and thus grow closer to God. Let the journey begin!
Week 1 — Genesis 1 thru 6 (Dec 31, 2017-Jan 6, 2018)
In Luke 24:44-47 Jesus indicates the Bible story is about Him. Although He is not mentioned specifically in the beginning of the Bible, John says, “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:2,3). The Bible story begins with the creation of our world and it tells us what went wrong. Genesis is often called “the book of beginnings”. Genesis 1 stresses the infinite power of God and the unique nature of man compared with other living creatures. Only man is said to have been created “in His own image” (v. 26). Genesis 2 adds more details pertaining to the creation of humans and tells the story of woman’s creation. Genesis 3 is a chapter worth special attention as it introduces us to the commission of the first sin. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve’s relationship with God is fractured and they are forced to exit the garden of Eden. From their introduction of sin into this world, all men have followed suit and have sinned (Rom. 5:12). Genesis 4 portrays sin spreading in the lives of man. This chapter also traces the lineage of two people: Cain and Abel. We will find that Cain’s people were wicked while Seth’s descendants worshipped God (v. 26). Genesis 5 traces the descendants of Adam to Noah, while Genesis 6 introduces the story of Noah and the flood.
These sections of our reading plan are designed to help us determine ways to make application of the readings. You may find “conversation starters” in the ideas mentioned in these sections. We encourage you to consider them as your family discusses the reading assignment for the week. This week we should focus our conversations on God the Creator and His power and authority over the world (especially over us!). As our Creator, God has given us the duty of serving and worshipping Him and He expects us to do it. Children should be taught about sin, what constitutes sin and what it does to our relationship with God. As you get further into the reading assignment, discussion should focus on how sin grows.
Week 2 — Genesis 7 thru 12 (Jan 7-13)
This week we continue the story of Noah and the great flood (Genesis 7-9). In chapters 6 and 7 we find that Noah was a righteous man who walked with God and did all God com-manded him. Obedience and God’s grace are themes to watch for in your reading assignment. Genesis 10 recounts the genealogy of Noah’s sons who were saved from the flood. In Genesis 11 we learn that even the knowledge of God destroying the earth and almost all mankind did not deter people from defying God and sinning again. Because of their pride and arrogance, God confused the languages of those attempting to build the tower of Babel and dispersed them over the face of the earth. Genesis 12 introduces the steps God took to begin implementing His plan to save mankind. God called on Abram of Ur to leave his homeland to a land He would show him, then promised to make a great nation of his descendants. The blessings promised in verse 3 will someday be fulfilled in Christ (Gal 3:16).
Do you regularly consider God’s grace and mercy in your life? It was God’s grace and mercy that saved Noah and his family. It was God’s grace and mercy that caused Him to call Abram to leave his home and to make promises to save mankind from the penal-ty of sin. If you have children in your home, they will undoubtedly be fascinated by the story of Noah’s ark. It is important to help them rec-ognize that Noah’s obedience saved him from destruction. Finally, it is good to emphasize Abraham was not a perfect man. In spite of this fact, God worked with him. Help your children see God can work with us as well, even though we are imperfect. He can help us develop and grow our faith as He did Abraham!
Week 3 — Genesis 13 thru 17 (Jan 14-20)
While Lot becomes a key figure in our reading, the focus must remain on the promises made to Abraham. God keeps his promises of protecting and caring for Abraham in Genesis 13 and 14. God restates and reaffirms the promises in Genesis 15, empha-sizing their significance. Abraham makes another mistake in Genesis 16, but we find God still working with him in the following chapter.
Don’t get distracted by speculating about Melchizedek. We will learn more about him in Hebrews. The main theme of this sec-tion has to do with the faithfulness of God and Abraham. God repeats the promises which will shape the remaining events of the Old Testament. As we read, we will see these promises fulfilled. Make sure your family understands this is the “map” for the rest of the Old Testament.
Week 4 — Genesis 18 thru 22 (Jan 21-27)
Genesis 18 will reveal the depth of Abraham’s relationship with God. Despite many obstacles, God’s promises will be fulfilled! We are introduced to a discussion of the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and see how Abraham interceded for the people. However, in Genesis 19 we read that Abraham was only successful in helping save his nephew and his daughters. God protects Abraham again in Genesis 20 and the account of the birth of Isaac is recorded in Genesis 21. God gives Abraham’s faith a great test in Genesis 22.
Although we might be in awe of how Abraham passed the testing of his faith, we need not loose sight of the fact that his faith had grown over a long period of time. Look at your own faith development. What temptations can you resist today that you could not in years past or when you first became a Christian? How is God working through His word and providence to strengthen your faith? Children may have difficulty understanding the sacrifice of Isaac. Help them see Abraham believed God would have raised his son from the dead even if he’d killed him (Heb 12:17-19). However, it was not God’s intention to have Isaac killed, but rather to present a means for Abraham to show his faith. Children should learn that sometimes obeying God means we may have to do difficult things.
Week 5 — Genesis 24 thru 28 (Jan 28-Feb 3)
The narrative in this section redirects focus on a new character, Isaac. Genesis 24 shows us the elaborate precautions his father takes to prevent him from marrying a Canaanite woman. Once again, God answers Abraham’s prayers and blesses his family. In Genesis 25 Abraham’s story comes to an end and we are introduced to his twin grandsons, Jacob and Esau. You will note the promises made to Abraham are repeated to Isaac in Genesis 26. Isaac promptly follows in his father’s footsteps by lying, but is also protected by God as was Abraham. As the story continues, it becomes evident that lying and deceit are a regular part of Jacob’s life. In fact, Genesis 27 reveals that he lied to his father in order to steal the blessing. However, in Gen-esis 28 we see the providential working of God as he sends Jacob away to a land where He will give him the promises He had given to Abraham (verses 3,4,13-15).
Already we see distinctions between Abraham’s people and the people of Canaan. Is there a lesson to be learned by us? (see James 1:27). Jacob’s lying and trickery provide good illustration to the idea of “the end justifies the means”. Help your children see the fallacy in this behavior. Children often follow the example of their parents! Another point of emphasis when you discuss this section with your children is the providential working of God in the lives of men.
Week 6 - Genesis 29 there 37 (Feb 4-10)
Genesis 29 tells us how Jacob the Deceiver ends up being tricked into marrying two wives. That story continues in Gen-esis 30, in the “Great Baby Race.” The heartache and strife in Jacob’s home is plain to see. Genesis 31 puts a heavy emphasis on God’s care for Jacob, because he is the recipient of the promises of God (see vv. 5, 7, 13, 24, 29, 42). Genesis 32 has Jacob and Esau preparing to meet again (and they are reconciled in ch. 33), but the dominant note in the chapter is Jacob wrestling with God. We may not understand much about this incident, but the key seems to be Jacob’s name being changed (vv. 27-28). He no longer will be Jacob, which means “tricks” but in-stead “Israel” which may mean “strives with God” or better, “God fights for you.” Chapters 33-36 discuss Esau and his family and the ter-rible defiling of Jacob’s daughter (ch. 34), along with God restating the promises to Jacob (35:11-12) and the deaths of Rachel and Isaac (35:16ff). We resume our reading in chapter 37 where we meet a new and tremendously important character named Joseph.
Chapter 31 really lets us think about our own dependence on God. Do you see all you have as a result of God’s care and bless-ing? Chapter 37 gives us an ironic fulfillment of “you reap what you sow” (Gal 6:7) as the man who deceived his own father is now tricked by his sons. How often are we tempted to try and fudge a little here, or cheat a little there, as if deception won’t ultimately come back to hurt us?
Jacob believed in the promises of God and then gave credit for what had happened to him for being the fulfillment of those promises. What has God promised us today? What do we see as tangible fulfillment of those promises? Later in the week it will be time to start talking about Joseph. He provides numerous opportunities to talk about character. Was he wise in 37:2 and 37:5-7? Ask your children how they would feel about Joseph as a brother. Emphasize that Joseph was not the first born (so important in Bible times) but he is being treated as a first born (the coat of many colors probably signified that, v. 3). Envy and jealousy were running rampant in Jacob’s house! What can be done to keep us from being envious of the good others are getting?
Week 7 — Genesis 39 thru 43 (Feb 11-17)
We are skipping the Judah and Tamar story in chapter 38 this week, even though it figures in the Lord’s lineage (Matt 1:3). Chapter 39 refocuses on Joseph, as he prospers and then suffers even more in Egypt. Chapter 40 gives the reader a glimmer of hope that Joseph may eventually get out of prison. In chapter 41 Jo-seph’s phenomenal faith and determination to always credit God for all things comes to the front. We finally begin to see God’s plan for Joseph take shape! 42:57 reveals why we are learning about Joseph. There is famine everywhere which means the family of promise is threatened with starvation back in Canaan! In Chapter 42 Joseph’s brothers begin traveling to Egypt where he will save his family. Those trips continue in chapter 43 where Joseph tests his brothers. He intends to determine if they are the kind of evil men who will give up a brother to save their own necks. Will they do to Benjamin what they did to him so long ago?
How will you react if your reward for doing the right thing is sever punishment? That is exactly what happened to Joseph in chapter 39. Are you ready for that? These chapters also provide much food for thought on the subject of forgiveness. Could you forgive someone who mistreated you in a similar way Joseph’s brothers wronged him? Do you recognize his schemes are designed to deter-mine if they are genuinely repentant?
Let’s keep the main thing the main thing here. The entire Joseph story is told to help us see how God kept the promises to the house of Abra-ham alive. God insures that Jacob and his family don’t starve in the great famine. God foresaw everything and sent someone ahead to make plans and prepare for the famine. The lesson for us to take home is God wants to use us to accomplish His purposes. Our realization should be this: sometimes life can take very unexpected turns when the Lord is positioning us to serve Him where He needs us.
Week 8 — Genesis 44 thru 46, Exodus 1 and 2 (Feb 18-24)
Joseph’s story wraps up successfully in chapters 44-45. Note his faith in 44:5-9. In chapter 46 the family of promise moves to Egypt, but not without God’s special permission (v. 4). Genesis closes with the family settling in and Jacob blessing Joseph’s children as well as his own. The book concludes with a strong state-ment by Joseph. The family of promise doesn’t belong in Egypt and some day must return to the Promised Land (50:24). Exodus 1 starts the next chapter of God’s story. One of the key ideas in the chapter is the multiplication of Israel’s population (note verses 7, 10, 12, 20). The promise to Abraham to make his descendants a great nation is coming to pass! Yet, in the 400 years that have passed, God’s people have be-come ruthlessly enslaved. How will they get back to where they be-long? Exodus 2 begins answering that question with the birth of Moses.
As we try to understand the “big picture” and especially the hope God offers, remember the Bible is the story of God’s plan of salvation. From Genesis 50 to Exodus 1 more than 400 years of history elapses, yet the Scriptures say virtually nothing about it. Why is God silent? Certainly this period contains historical events involving interesting people! The Bible doesn’t talk about those years because it doesn’t advance the story of redemption. The Bible isn’t a storybook about random happenings. It is the inspired history of God fulfilling His promise to bring the Messiah and salvation to the world. Remember the promise made in Gen. 3:15 of One who would someday come to destroy the power of Satan. That is the theme of the entire Bible! Jesus is coming!