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.
Jon 1 — RUNNING FROM GOD
"Now the men were seized with great fear and said to him, 'How could you do such a thing!' They knew that he was fleeing from the Lord, because he had told them." Jonah 1:10
The Lord sent Jonah to prophesy against the Israelites' mortal enemy, Nineveh. Jonah was afraid that Nineveh might repent and be spared the destruction it deserved. So he ran away from God's call. "The Lord, however, hurled a violent wind upon the sea, and in the furious tempest that arose the ship was on the point of breaking up" (1:4). Eventually, the sailors had to throw Jonah into the sea to stop the storm.
Prayer: Father, if I'm running from You, throw a storm at me.
Promise: "Then they took Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea's raging abated." 1:15
Jon 2 — GOD'S SENSE OF HUMOR
"But the Lord sent a large fish, that swallowed Jonah; and he remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. From the belly of the fish Jonah said this prayer to the Lord, his God." Jonah 2:1-2
Did this really happen? Whether it did or not, the Lord expects us to laugh. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
Prayer: Father, may I laugh at Your jokes, even when You tell them at odd times.
Promise: "Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me; from the midst of the nether world I cried for help, and You heard my voice." 2:3
Jon 3 — A DISAPPOINTING SUCCESS
"Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's walk announcing, 'Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,' when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth." Jonah 3:4-5
Jonah wanted his prophecy to be ignored so that Nineveh would be destroyed. Jonah, who wanted to fail, was the most successful prophet in history. The whole city repented in one day. "When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do to them; He did not carry it out" (3:10).
Prayer: Father, may I want people to be saved, not punished. May this be my strongest desire.
Promise: "Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God; every man shall turn from his evil way and from the violence he has in hand." 3:8
Jon 4 — UNFORGIVENESS AND EVANGELIZATION
"Then the Lord said, 'You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor and which you did not raise; it came up in one night and in one night it perished. And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons?' " Jonah 4:10-11
Jonah was really upset when a worm killed his shade tree. He was more concerned about air-conditioning than 120,000 people going to hell. How concerned are we about others' salvation and damnation? Is our unforgiveness causing us to disobey God's call to evangelize?
Prayer: Father, may I forgive my enemies and want to be with them in heaven.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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