Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
2 Chr 1 — WISHING WELL
"Since this has been your wish and you have not asked for riches, treasures and glory, nor for the life of those who hate you, nor even for a long life for yourself, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge in order to rule My people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are given you; but I will also give you riches, treasures and glory." 2 Chronicles 1:11-12
The Lord gave Solomon the opportunity to make a wish and have it granted. Solomon wished for wisdom and thereby received riches, victory, and prosperity. Are you wishing for the causes or the effects?
Prayer: Father, give me a hunger and thirst for holiness and wisdom.
Promise: "Solomon, son of David, strengthened his hold on the kingdom, for the Lord, his God, was with him, constantly making him more renowned." 1:1
2 Chr 2 — 153,600 JOBS
"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, for having given King David a wise son of intelligence and understanding, who will build a house for the Lord." 2 Chronicles 2:11
Solomon prepared to build the Temple by conscripting "seventy thousand men to carry stone and eighty thousand to cut the stone in the mountains, and over these he placed three thousand six hundred overseers" (2:1). Then he contracted with Hiram, king of Tyre, for skilled craftsmen and "boards of cedar, cypress and cabinet wood from Lebanon" (2:7).
Prayer: Father, raise up the people needed to renew Your Church.
Promise: "Because the Lord loves His people, He has placed you over them as king." 2:10
2 Chr 3-4 — THE WONDER OF THE WORLD
"Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, which had been pointed out to his father David, on the spot which David had selected, the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite." 2 Chronicles 3:1
The Chronicler spends the next five chapters on the building and dedication of the Temple. This is considered to be the most important event in world history. Therefore, every detail is to be relished.
Prayer: Father, may I realize that my body is the Temple of the Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
2 Chr 5 — PRAISING HIS PRESENCE
"The priests could not continue to minister because of the cloud, since the Lord's glory filled the house of God." 2 Chronicles 5:14
The dedication of the Temple began with the procession of the ark into the Holy of Holies. This was done with great fanfare. Then, God filled the Temple with a cloud, manifesting His glory.
Prayer: Father, may I frequently praise You present inside of me.
Promise: "The trumpeters and singers were heard as a single voice praising and giving thanks to the Lord." 5:13
2 Chr 6 — GRAND CENTRAL STATION
"I have truly built you a princely house and dwelling, where you may abide forever." 2 Chronicles 6:2
At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon prayed that the Temple would be the focal point of God's relationship with His people. What is the center of your relationship with the Lord?
Prayer: Father, center my life on Jesus' presence in the Eucharist.
Promise: "Advance, Lord God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your majesty. May Your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may Your faithful ones rejoice in good things." 6:41
2 Chr 7 — FIRE DEPARTMENT
"Thus the king of all the people dedicated the house of God." 2 Chronicles 7:6
"When Solomon had ended this prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the holocaust and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house" (7:1). "All the Israelites looked on while the fire came down and the glory of the Lord was upon the house, and they fell down upon the pavement with their faces to the earth and adored, praising the Lord" (7:3).
Prayer: Father, may my worship of You in the new covenant be much more glorious than that of the old covenant (see 2 Cor 3:8-10).
Promise: "If My people, upon whom My name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek My presence and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 7:14
2 Chr 9 — "SPEAK NO EVIL, SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL"
"All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon, to hear from him the wisdom which God had put in his heart." 2 Chronicles 9:23
The queen of Sheba and "all the kings of the earth" testified to Solomon's wisdom and the glories of his kingdom. The Chronicler leaves us with this picture of Solomon and does not mention Solomon's sins of idol-worship (see 1 Kgs 11).
Prayer: Father, erase the evil in my life as I repent of my sins.
Promise: "Because your God has so loved Israel as to will to make it last forever, He has appointed you over them as king to administer right and justice." 9:8
2 Chr 10 — REPEATING YOURSELF
"When all Israel saw that the king would not listen to them, the people answered the king." 2 Chronicles 10:16
This chapter repeats 1 Kings 12:1-19. The repetitions of 1 Kings in 2 Chronicles and other repetitions throughout the Bible are God's way of saying: "Although you didn't listen to Me the first time, I'll give you another opportunity."
Prayer: Father, may I get the message this time.
2 Chr 11 — LISTENING POST
"They obeyed this message of the Lord and gave up the expedition against Jeroboam." 2 Chronicles 11:4
Although Rehoboam caused a division in his kingdom by not listening to the advice of the elders, he did listen to a prophet who spoke against a civil war. Rehoboam prospered insofar as he listened.
Prayer: Father, I will listen to You in an area where I have previously closed my ears.
Promise: "Thus they strengthened the kingdom of Judah and made Rehoboam, son of Solomon, prevail for three years." 11:17
2 Chr 13 — ONE-SIDED
"The Israelites were subdued on that occasion and the Judahites were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers." 2 Chronicles 13:18
Judah beat Israel in a civil war because Judah was on God's side.
Prayer: Father, may I be under Your authority so as to be in authority over the evil one.
Promise: "Do not battle against the Lord, the God of your fathers, O Israelites, for you will not succeed!" 13:12
2 Chr 14 — ARE YOU GOOD NEWS-WORTHY?
"Asa did what was good and pleasing to the Lord, his God, removing the heathen altars and the high places, breaking to pieces the sacred pillars, and cutting down the sacred poles." 2 Chronicles 14:1-2
The Chronicler did not consider the kings of Israel worthy of mention. Rather, he focused primarily on those kings of Judah who tried to bring the people back to worshiping the Lord in the Temple.
Prayer: "O Lord, there is none like You to help the powerless against the strong. Help us, O Lord, our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this multitude. You are the Lord, our God; let no man prevail against You" (14:10).
Promise: "No war was waged against him during these years, because the Lord had given him peace." 14:5
2 Chr 15 — PEACE-MAKING PRAISE
"Asa's heart was undivided as long as he lived. He brought into the house of God his father's votive offerings and his own: silver, gold, and various utensils. There was no war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa's reign." 2 Chronicles 15:17-19
The Chronicler saw a correlation between peace and purity in worship. At Jesus' birth, the angels sang: "Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests" (Lk 2:14).
Prayer: Father, may I praise the world into peace.
Promise: "The Lord is with you when you are with Him, and if you seek Him, He will be present to you; but if you abandon Him, He will abandon you." 15:2
2 Chr 16 — ERODING FAITH
"Asa contracted a serious disease in his feet. But even in his sickness he did not seek the Lord, but only the physicians." 2 Chronicles 16:12
Although the Lord had given Asa victory over the Ethiopians, Asa did not rely on the Lord when Baasha attacked Judah. His faith eroded to the point that he did not rely on the Lord when he had a disease of the feet.
Prayer: Father, if I'm lacking faith in Your healing power, show me other areas of lack of faith which have affected me adversely.
Promise: "The eyes of the Lord roam over the whole earth, to encourage those who are devoted to Him wholeheartedly." 16:9
2 Chr 17 — THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
"The Lord was with Jehoshaphat, for he walked in the ways his father had pursued in the beginning." 2 Chronicles 17:3
Jehoshaphat realized that the people had to be taught the law of the Lord if they were to return to worship in the Temple and give up their idol-worship. Therefore, Jehoshaphat sent ten men through all the cities of Judah to teach the people.
Prayer: Father, may my reading of the books of Chronicles lead me to deep, pure, and free worship of You.
Promise: "Now the fear of the Lord was upon all the kingdoms of the countries surrounding Judah, so that they did not war against Jehoshaphat." 17:10
2 Chr 18 — JUMPING JEHOSHAPHAT!
"Jehoshaphat therefore had wealth and glory in abundance; but he became related to Ahab by marriage." 2 Chronicles 18:1
Jehoshaphat became related by marriage to Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. Contrary to the prophet's Micaiah's warning, Jehoshaphat even went to war allied with Ahab. God spared Jehoshaphat, but Ahab was killed by an arrow shot "at random" (18:33).
Prayer: Father, may I have no love for the world or the things that the world affords (1 Jn 2:15).
Promise: "Jehoshaphat cried out and the Lord helped him." 18:31
2 Chr 19 — A HALF-LIFE
"For this reason, wrath is upon you from the Lord. Yet some good things are to be found in you, since you have removed the sacred poles from the land and have been determined to seek God." 2 Chronicles 19:2-3
Jehu, the prophet, rebuked Jehoshaphat because he joined Ahab. God's wrath came upon Jehoshaphat, but he could still do "some good things" (19:3).
Prayer: Father, I repent and ask to be restored to full power.
Promise: "Act carefully, for with the Lord, our God, there is no injustice, no partiality, no bribe-taking." 19:7
2 Chr 21 — MIXED MARRIAGE
"He conducted himself like the kings of Israel of the line of Ahab, because one of Ahab's daughters was his wife." 2 Chronicles 21:6
The Chronicler reluctantly mentions the evil deeds of Jehoram. He attributes these to Jehoram's marriage into the wicked family of Ahab. The wages of Jehoram's idol-worship were a revolt of the Edomites, defeat at the hands of the Philistines and Arabs, and "an incurable disease of the bowels. As time went on until a period of two years had elapsed, his bowels issued forth because of the disease and he died in great pain" (21:18-19). Jehoram "departed unloved" (21:20).
Prayer: Father, may the faith of a prospective spouse be the major criterion for those getting married.
Promise: "The Lord would not destroy the house of David because of the covenant He had made with David and because of His promise to give him and his sons a lamp for all time." 21:7
2 Chr 22 — BAD COUNSELORS
"He, too, followed the ways of the house of Ahab, because his mother counseled him to act sinfully. To his own destruction, he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as did the house of Ahab, since they were his counselors after the death of his father." 2 Chronicles 22:3-4
Ahaziah listened to the perverted counsels of his mother and Ahab's family. This resulted in his own death and more mass murders. "Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord" (Ps 1:1-2).
Prayer: Father, may I listen to the right counselors.
Promise: "He was the grandson of Jehoshaphat, who sought the Lord with his whole heart." 22:9
2 Chr 23 — SMASHING IDOLS
"Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king, that they should be the Lord's people. And all the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down." 2 Chronicles 23:16-17
Jehoiada the priest overthrew the wicked queen, Athaliah, and restored the Temple worship by destroying the worship of idols. We also need to lead a revolution against the idols of our society.
Prayer: Father, I will be on my "guard against idols" (1 Jn 5:21).
Promise: "All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet, now that Athaliah had been put to death by the sword." 23:21
2 Chr 24 — OVERLY OBEDIENT
"Joash did what was pleasing to the Lord as long as Jehoiada the priest lived." 2 Chronicles 24:2
Joash was dependent on Jehoiada's faith so, when Jehoiada died, he "forsook the Temple of the Lord...and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols" (24:18). He even killed Zechariah, Jehoiada's son, for prophesying against his wickedness. Joash later was defeated in battle, physically sick, and finally murdered.
Prayer: Father, may I have a personal commitment to You and not merely depend on someone else's faith.
Promise: "The workmen labored, and the task of restoration progressed under their hands. They restored the house of God according to its original form, and reinforced it." 24:13
2 Chr 25 — 2 OUT OF 3
"He did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, though not wholeheartedly." 2 Chronicles 25:2
Amaziah did the right thing two out of three times. This was not pleasing to the Lord. He was defeated and disgraced by King Joash of Israel. Finally, he too was murdered.
Prayer: Father, may I never be lukewarm (Rv 3:16).
Promise: "Amaziah answered the man of God, 'But what is to be done about the hundred talents that I paid for the troops of Israel?' The man of God replied, 'The Lord can give you much more than that.' " 25:9
2 Chr 26 — WORLD-FAMOUS LEPER
"He was prepared to seek God as long as Zechariah lived, who taught him to fear God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper." 2 Chronicles 26:5
King Uzziah, with the help of a faithful man named Zechariah, feared God, was internationally famous in warfare, construction, agriculture, and technology. He became proud, defied the Lord, and died a leper.
Prayer: Father, may I give You the praise for any accomplishments in my life (see Phil 2:13).
Promise: "His fame spread far and wide, and his power was ascribed to the marvelous help he had received." 26:15
2 Chr 27 — DROPPING THE PASS
"Jotham continued to grow strong because he lived resolutely in the presence of the Lord, his God." 2 Chronicles 27:6
Jotham was a great king who did not follow in the footsteps of his father's sins. However, he could not communicate his faith to his people.
Prayer: Father, encourage and empower those parents who have not been able to pass on their faith to their children.
Promise: "He pleased the Lord just as his father Uzziah had done." 27:2
2 Chr 28 — NOT LEARNING THE HARD OR EASY WAY
"While he was already in distress, the same King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord." 2 Chronicles 28:22
Ahaz sinned and therefore was terribly defeated in war. At the words of Oded the prophet, those taken captive were spared the disgrace of slavery. However, Ahaz didn't benefit from the reprieve; rather, he regressed into even worse things.
Prayer: Father, when You delay paying me the wages of my sin, may I repent immediately (Rm 6:23).
2 Chr 29 — HOUSE CLEANING
"Thus the service of the house of the Lord was reestablished." 2 Chronicles 29:35
Hezekiah began his reign by cleansing, restoring, and consecrating the Temple. If we are to reign with Christ, we must cleanse our bodies, receive healing, and offer our bodies to Him as living sacrifices (Rm 12:1).
Prayer: Father, may my body be a pleasing Temple for You, Jesus, and the Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
Promise: "They sang praises till their joy was full, then fell down and prostrated themselves." 29:30
2 Chr 30 — THE PASSOVER AND THE EUCHARIST AS A WAY OF LIFE
"Thus the Israelites who were in Jerusalem celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread with great rejoicing for seven days, and the Levites and the priests sang the praises of the Lord day after day with all their strength." 2 Chronicles 30:21
After cleansing the Temple, Hezekiah renewed the celebration of the Passover. After giving ourselves to Christ, we should celebrate the new Passover, the Eucharist, as often as possible, even daily.
Prayer: Father, may I want to receive Jesus in communion every day of the rest of my life.
Promise: "In Judah, however, the power of God brought it about that the people were of one mind to carry out the command of the king and the princes in accordance with the word of the Lord." 30:12
2 Chr 31 — WORSHIP AS THE MEANING OF LIFE
"Everything that he undertook, for the service of the house of God or for the law and the commandments, was to do the will of his God. He did this wholeheartedly, and he prospered." 2 Chronicles 31:21
Hezekiah reestablished a society and life-style centered on communal worship in the Temple. Worship is bigger than life. We live to worship.
Prayer: Father, may I worship You in Spirit and Truth and let You do with me as You will (Jn 4:23-24).
Promise: "He did what was good, upright and faithful before the Lord, his God." 31:20
2 Chr 33 — AMAZING GRACE
"Manasseh misled Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into doing even greater evil than the nations which the Lord had destroyed at the coming of the Israelites. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention." 2 Chronicles 33:9-10
Manasseh led the people of Judah to do even greater evil than the pagans did. However, after being exiled to Babylon, Manasseh repented and prayed. "The Lord let Himself be won over: He heard his prayer and restored him to his kingdom in Jerusalem. Then Manasseh understood that the Lord is indeed God" (33:13).
Prayer: Father, may some of the worse sinners in the world be converted to Jesus in the next few days.
Promise: "I will not again allow Israel's feet to leave the land which I assigned to your fathers, provided they are careful to observe all that I commanded them." 33:8
2 Chr 34 — REVIVAL
"Josiah removed every abominable thing from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he obliged all who were in Israel to serve the Lord, their God. During his lifetime they did not desert the Lord, the God of their fathers." 2 Chronicles 34:33
Josiah brought about one of the greatest revivals of all times by restoring true worship and insisting on obedience to God's word.
Prayer: Father, use me to revive Your Church in worship and the word.
Promise: "He pleased the Lord, following the path of his ancestor David. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still a youth, he began to seek after the God of his forefather David." 34:2-3
2 Chr 35 — WHEN THE BEST IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH
"Jeremiah also composed a lamentation over Josiah." 2 Chronicles 35:25
Josiah completed the revival of the chosen people by celebrating the Passover in unprecedented glory. "No such Passover had been observed in Israel since the time of the prophet Samuel, nor had any king of Israel kept a Passover like that of Josiah" (35:18). Nevertheless, Josiah suffered a tragic death, and the people rushed headlong to destruction because of generations of sin. Josiah was the best king since David, but he could not release the people from the ever-increasing debt of sin.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Jesus Who alone can atone for the sins of all people for all times.
Promise: "He reappointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the Lord's house." 35:2
2 Chr 36 — A RAY OF HOPE
"Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: 'All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and He has also charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.' " 2 Chronicles 36:23
The Chronicler briefly refers to the darkest days in the history of the chosen people. He ends by once again focusing on the Temple.
Prayer: Father, may I focus on Your glory rather than humanity's evils.
Promise: "Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of His people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!" 36:23
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
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