On May 11, 2007, I sat down to do my regular Bible reading that morning, when something out of the norm occurred. For a period of maybe a couple of weeks or so prior to then, I’d had the occasional thought that it had been quite a while since I had read the Gospel of John. So when I opened my Bible that morning and saw that I had turned straight to the first page of John’s Gospel, I decided that I may as well sit down and read the entire book. After all, I didn’t have any other plans for that say, so why not spend the day reading the Bible?
The next morning in my devotion time, f opened my Bible expecting to follow my regular reading schedule. But my reading plans changed when I saw that for a second time I had turned straight to the first page of one of the Bible’s sixty-six books. This time the book was the Book of Acts, and since I had already read all John’s Gospel the day before, I decided that I may as well read the Book of Acts also, and I did.
The following morning, I again opened my Bible during my reading time not thinking much at all about the previous two mornings. Until that is, I looked down and saw that I had turned straight to the first page of a book for the third day in a row. This time the book was the Gospel of Mark. Tthough this seemed at the time to be a funny “coincidence,” it was unnerving enough that I decided that maybe I had better read the entire book of Mark’s Gospel that day. The same was true the next morning, only more unnerving, wwhen I turned straight to the first page of the Gospel of Luke. So for the fourth day straight, I sat and read my Bible all day.
That evening our cell group met at our home for dinner and Bible study. Not until we had finished and our friends were departing did I think to tell them about the “coincidental” Bible openings. The story gave us all a nice little chuckle.
After they’d left and the dishes were done, I went into our living room, sat on the sofa, and picked up my Bible. As I then opened it, I looked down and saw the first page of the Book of Ephesians. It was then that I called my husband and said one of the greatest understatements about Gode ever made: “God must be trying to tell me something!”
Whatever it was that I thought that I knew about God and His message to me that night, the illusion that I knew anything at al about God didn’t last long. In fact, God settled the matter the very next morning.
When I awoke the next day, my husband was still sleeping soundly. I quietly I got out of bed, went downstairs, poured a glass of orange juice, and went into the living room and sat on the sofa. After I had read the relatively short Book of Ephesians the night before, I had left my Bible sitting on the ottoman in front of the sofa overnight. So the next morning, when I saw it sitting there, without any thought at all about that week’s happenings, I reached over with one hand and flipped open my Bible. As I watched it fall open to the first page of the Book of Ezekiel, I heard myself exclaiming two words in an otherwise totally quiet house. “Oh, no!” was all that I said.
At that distinct moment, the reality of the power of God struck me. Any humor that I had thought that I had seen earlier in the situation was completely gone. What remained was an awesome, reverential fear of God and His Word that kept me away from my Bible for most of that day. I realized that right there in our home was God Himself, interacting with me. No longer was I the one whose hand was opening my Bible, but the Hand of God that was doing it, though with me or for me, I didn’t yet know. Whatever illusions I’d had in the past about being in control of any situation in this world were gone.
Let me verify for the reader that there is nothing about the way that my Bible is structured or put together that would cause it to open to the first pages of the books that are in it. I have been using this Bible since 1999 when my husband gave it to me as a gift that Christmas. It did not happen prior to this event, nor can I make it happen that way now. My Bible contains 1,939 numbered pages and more than 130 additional pages in the concordance, etc. Those who are mathematically inclined to do can do the math. If this were not God, then it would be one humongous “coincidence” that became even greater. Thirty nine consecutive times God opened my Bible to the first pages of the books that I was to then read.
Thirty-nine! After I had finished the thirty-ninth reading, I didn’t know what to do next. So I started to read from front to back the books that hadn’t been part of the thirty-nine readings. One of those thirty-nine Bible openings, though, was to the title page of the New Testament, which I then concluded meant that I was to read all the New Testament before I moved on. In the end, the total reading I had done amounted to having read the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice.
Additionally, I was also participating in a women’s Bible study that was reading one book of the New Testament each week. When we broke for the Christmas holiday, I decided to finish reading the New Testament books that had not yet been covered in the study. In seven months’ time, I read the Old Testament once and the New Testament three times. Reading the Bible in a year is more than a doable goal.
Why God did this isn’t a secret, but is fully revealed in the next chapter. It isn’t about why I think that God might have done this, but about what God Himself says in His Word.
An ordered list of the completed readings of the Bible’s books.
|1. John||14. 2 Timothy||27. Zechariah|
|2. Acts||15. New Testament||28. 2 John|
|3. Mark||16. 1 Timothy||29. Thessalonians|
|4. Luke||17. Romans||30. 1 Timothy|
|5. Ephesians||18. Malachi||31. Deuteronomy|
|6. Ezekiel||19. Revelation||32. Judges|
|7. Haggai||20. Jude||33. 2 Kings|
|8. Jeremiah||21. Genesis||34. Haggai|
|9. Nahum||22. Song of Songs||35. 2 John|
|10. Jonah||23. Leviticus||36. Proverbs|
|11. Obadiah||24. Numbers||37. Jeremiah|
|12. Haggai||25. Mark||38. Haggai *|
|13. Ephesians||26. Joel||39. 2 John|
To be as accurate as possible, a situation occurred during the thirty-nine readings with regard to the Book of Haggai. My Bible had opened so many times to the Book of Haggai that one day I felt led by the Lord to stop recording those readings. Even after I finished all thirty-nine Bible readings, my Bible was still opening regularly to the Book of Haggai. I estimate that I must have read Haggai at least twenty times. Then finally I realized that while the Book of Haggai emphasizes the rebuilding of God’s temple, it is the rebuilding of us as individual temples of God that God wants restored the most in His wholeness. Only after I came to this realization did the openings to the first page of Haggai then stop. Read Haggai and see what God says to you.
A list of the final 22 Bible books read after the 39 openings
|1. Exodus||9. Ezra||16. Lamentations|
|2. Joshua||10. Nehemiah||17. Daniel|
|3. Ruth||11. Esther||18. Hosea|
|4.. 1 Samuel||12. Job||19. Amos|
|5. 2 Samuel||13. Psalms||20. Micah|
|6. 1 Kings||14. Ecclesiastes||21. Habakkuk|
|7. 1 Chronicles||15. Isaiah||22. Zephaniah|
|8. 2 Chronicles|