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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.
"The midwives, however, feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live." Exodus 1:17
The Israelites were enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptians. The king of Egypt even ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the baby boys they helped deliver. Finally, he ordered all the baby boys to be thrown into the river. Have you noticed any modern parallels to this attack on life and family?
Prayer: Father, we repent for our apathy in the face of millions of deaths by abortion.
Promise: "Yet the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread." 1:12
"As their cry for release went up to God, He heard their groaning and was mindful of His covenant." Exodus 2:23-24
The Lord never abandons us when we are in distress. He often raises up the most unlikely person to liberate us. He raised up Mosesan abandoned child, a murderer, and a fugitiveto lead the Israelites out of slavery.
Prayer: Father, make even the worst atrocities work together for the good of those who love You (Rm 8:28).
Promise: "When the child grew, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, who adopted him as her son and called him Moses; for she said, 'I drew him out of the water!' " 2:10
"When the Lord saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, 'Moses! Moses!' He answered, 'Here I am.' " Exodus 3:4
Moses met God in the burning bush and said to Him: "Who am I?" (3:11) and "Who are You?" "God replied, 'I AM Who am' " (3:14). Like Moses, we question who we are in God's plan of salvation. God responds: "Because I AM, you are." "Because I AM, you can." "Because I AM, you will." "We are more than conquerors because of Him Who has loved us" (Rm 8:37).
Prayer: Father, use me to lead thousands into Your kingdom.
Promise: "I am concerned about you and about the way you are being treated in Egypt; so I have decided to lead you up out of the misery of Egypt." 3:16-17
"If you please, Lord, send someone else!" Exodus 4:13
Moses, although "slow of speech and tongue" (4:10), tried to talk God out of choosing him to liberate the Israelites. God wouldn't take "no" for an answer. If we would channel our energies toward obeying God rather than making excuses, we'd be much better off.
Prayer: Father, point out to me any calling from You that I have refused to answer.
Promise: "The people believed, and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their affliction, they bowed down in worship." 4:31
"Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has maltreated this people of Yours, and You have done nothing to rescue them." Exodus 5:23
Moses' mission had a disastrous beginning. Instead of freeing the people, Pharaoh oppressed them even more. "Moses again had recourse to the Lord and said, 'Lord, why do You treat this people so badly? And why did You send me on such a mission?' " (5:22)
Prayer: Father, may I not quit when things get worse before they get better.
Promise: "Let My people go, that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the desert." 5:1
"But Moses protested to the Lord, 'If the Israelites would not listen to me, how can it be that Pharaoh will listen to me, poor speaker that I am!' " Exodus 6:12
Moses seems to be very self-conscious about his speech defect (4:10; 6:12, 30). He was unfortunately not so conscious of his sinfulness and God's omnipotence. His speech defect did not seem to hinder him from complaining to God.
Prayer: Father, may Your power reach perfection in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9).
Promise: "I will rescue you by My outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and you shall have Me as your God." 6:6-7
"Pharaoh, in turn, summoned wise men and sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did likewise by their magic arts. Each one threw down his staff, and it was changed into a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed their staffs." Exodus 7:11-12
God turned Moses' staff into a snake, turned the river water into blood, and sent a plague of frogs. But Pharaoh paid little attention because his magicians also performed all these signs. We as Christians must be able to manifest greater power than those in the occult.
Prayer: Jesus, by Your power, I bring down all the powers of the occult (Col 2:10, 15).
Promise: "Therefore I will lay My hand on Egypt and by great acts of judgment I will bring the hosts of My people, the Israelites, out of the land of Egypt, so that the Egyptians may learn that I am the Lord." 7:4-5
"But once more Pharaoh became obdurate and would not let the people go." Exodus 8:28
Just imagine Pharaoh dodging the frogs, scratching the gnats, and swatting the flies. He would have given anything for a can of insect repellent. How stubborn can you get!
Prayer: Father, may I not deceive myself in the face of adversity.
Promise: "As the gnats infested man and beast, the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.' " 8:14-15
"When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent forth hail and peals of thunder." Exodus 9:23
Sin so blinds us to reality that pestilence, boils, and hail don't even faze us.
Prayer: Lord, may I repent of sin before I go completely blind.
Promise: "But this is why I have spared you: to show you My power and to make My name resound throughout the earth!" 9:16
"Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews: How long will you refuse to submit to Me?" Exodus 10:3
The locusts really got to Pharaoh. He hastily "summoned Moses and Aaron and said, 'I have sinned against the Lord, your God, and against you. But now, do forgive me my sin once more, and pray the Lord, your God, to take at least this deadly pest from me' " (10:16-17). However, Pharaoh's repentance didn't last long. Soon, he was plagued with impenetrable darkness. How appropriate!
Prayer: Father, may I repent of sin immediately before my mind becomes empty and my understanding darkened (Eph 4:17-18).
Promise: "I am the Lord." 10:2
"Thus says the Lord: At midnight I will go forth through Egypt. Every first-born in this land shall die." Exodus 11:4-5
Pharaoh had earlier decreed that all Jewish boys must be killed. Now God has decreed that all the first-born of the Egyptians would die in one night.
Prayer: Father, may I not die in my sins (Jn 8:21, 24).
Promise: "The Lord said to Moses, 'Pharaoh refuses to listen to you that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.' " 11:9
"This was a night of vigil for the Lord, as He led them out of the land of Egypt; so on this same night all the Israelites must keep a vigil for the Lord throughout their generations." Exodus 12:42
This chapter is one of the most important in the Bible. It refers to the blood of a lamb which was applied to the door posts of the houses of God's people. When the Lord saw the blood, He passed over those houses, and their inhabitants were saved from death. This prefigures the Paschal mystery, the essence of God's plan of salvation.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for Your bloody death on Calvary for love of me.
Promise: "But the blood will mark the houses where you are. Seeing the blood, I will pass over you; thus, when I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you." 12:13
"When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every first-born in the land of Egypt, every first-born of man and of beast. That is why I sacrifice to the Lord everything of the male sex that opens the womb, and why I redeem every first-born of my sons." Exodus 13:15
The Lord had miraculously freed His people from slavery. But the people soon forgot the Lord's saving grace for, even after the Exodus, they were afraid to fight the Philistines. To remind the people of the Exodus, the Lord commanded Moses to consecrate every first-born male to Him (see 13:9, 16).
Prayer: Jesus, may the significance of Your passion, death, and resurrection overshadow every detail of my life.
Promise: "The Lord preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and at night by means of a column of fire to give them light." 13:21
"When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power that the Lord had shown against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and believed in Him and in His servant Moses." Exodus 14:30-31
Just when the Israelites were freed from Egypt, the Egyptians came running up right behind them. When we think we're free at last, we are tempted to take on "the yoke of slavery a second time!" (Gal 5:1) However, "God keeps His promise. He will not let you be tested beyond your strength. Along with the test He will give you a way out of it" (1 Cor 10:13).
Prayer: Father, I choose each day to remain free in Your Son (Jn 8:36).
Promise: "Moses answered the people, 'Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord Himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.' " 14:13-14
"Sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot He has cast into the sea." Exodus 15:21
After the drowning of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, Moses and the guys started singing the verses of a song. Miriam and the girls sang the refrain, got out the tambourines, and started dancing. Because Jesus has set us free by His death and resurrection, we have even more reason to join Moses and Miriam in singing, dancing, and praising the Lord.
Prayer: Jesus, may I jump, shout, dance, and sing because of what You've done for me.
Promise: "If you heed His commandments and keep all His precepts, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases with which I afflicted the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your Healer." 15:26
"I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God." Exodus 16:12
The Lord miraculously provided manna, a bread-like food, for forty years. Instead of being thankful, the Israelites could only grumble some more. Count the number of times the word "grumble" is used in this chapter.
Prayer: Father, may I quit complaining and give You constant thanks (1 Thes 5:18).
Promise: "In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, as He heeds your grumbling against Him." 16:7
"So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur. As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight." Exodus 17:10-11
While God stood on a rock, Moses struck the rock with his staff and water flowed. While Moses sat on a rock and raised his hands in prayer, Joshua and the army struck down the Amalekites and victory was won.
Prayer: Father, several times a day may I pray for those who are not praying for themselves.
Promise: "I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb. Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink." 17:6
"Now, listen to me, and I will give you some advice, that God may be with you. Act as the people's representative before God, bringing to Him whatever they have to say." Exodus 18:19
Although Moses was a great intercessor, he was spending most of his time in administration. Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, straightened Moses out. Do you know anyone making the same mistake?
Prayer: Father, show me areas of my life where I am spending too much or too little time.
Promise: "Moses followed the advice of his father-in-law and did all that he had suggested. He picked out able men from all Israel and put them in charge of the people as officers over groups of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens." 18:24-25
"On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled." Exodus 19:16
Although God sometimes speaks in a whisper (1 Kgs 19:12), He has a loud voice. Before giving us the Ten Commandments, He raised His voice. "Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the Lord came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. The trumpet blast grew louder and louder, while Moses was speaking and God answering him with thunder" (19:18-19).
Prayer: Father, I tremble before Your glorious throne (Is 66:1-2).
Promise: "You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation." 19:6
"I, the Lord, am your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides Me." Exodus 20:2-3
The first commandment of the Ten Commandments is the one most emphasized. It is explained in greater detail, and it is further commented on after the list of the other commandments. Focus on the first commandment.
Prayer: Father, may no person or thing ever take more of my time, energy, or money than You do.
Promise: "Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid, for God has come to you only to test you and put His fear upon you, lest you should sin.' " 20:20
"Whoever strikes a man a mortal blow must be put to death." Exodus 21:12
This series of laws concerning slavery, personal injury, and property damage is based on the principle: "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (21:23-25). Because Jesus paid the price with His blood for our sins, He was able to go beyond this principle of justice in retaliation. Now He calls us to turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39).
Prayer: Jesus, may I receive and give mercy since You have met the demands of justice.
"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among My people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him." Exodus 22:24
Because of our Christian heritage, we would not break most of the laws of this chapter, except one. We flagrantly violate the Biblical law against taking interest on our money. (See our leaflet on interest, for more information.)
Prayer: Father, may I obey Your word and not be conformed to the world (Rm 12:2).
Promise: "You shall be men sacred to Me." 22:30
"See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared." Exodus 23:20
Angels are in charge of keeping good order on the earth (see 1 Cor 11:10). If we listen to our guardian angels and obey God's law, then the Lord will be an enemy to our enemies, that is, to Satan and his demons (Eph 6:12).
Prayer: Father, make me aware of my guardian angel throughout each day.
Promise: "I will drive them out little by little before you, until you have grown numerous enough to take possession of the land." 23:30
"This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of His." Exodus 24:8
The Israelites promised God twice that they would do everything He told them (24:3, 7). Yet they changed their minds. Like some of us, they were "yes" one minute and "no" the next (2 Cor 1:18). At this moment, commit your life totally and irreversibly to Christ.
Prayer: Father, You are faithful. May I be like You.
Promise: "They beheld the God of Israel. Under His feet there appeared to be sapphire tilework, as clear as the sky itself." 24:10
"They shall make a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell in their midst. This Dwelling and all its furnishings you shall make exactly according to the pattern that I will now show you." Exodus 25:8-9
Most of Exodus is not about the ten plagues and the Exodus, but about the Dwelling and its furnishings. Chapters 2531 are a great interpolation emphasizing the Dwelling. The conclusion of Exodus, chapters 3540 are also about the Dwelling. Since the Dwelling was the focal point of the community's worship, the emphasis on the Dwelling communicates the message that worshipping the Lord is the meaning of life and the answer to our problems. When we're in the desert or in exile, when our lives have collapsed, we can rise above our problems by worshipping the Lord.
Prayer: Father, I choose to live a life of praise.
Promise: "There I will meet you and there, from above the propitiatory, between the two cherubim on the ark of the commandments, I will tell you all the commands that I wish you to give the Israelites." 25:22
"You shall erect the Dwelling according to the pattern shown you on the mountain." Exodus 26:30
Since God's ways and thoughts are vastly different than ours (Is 55:8), we don't know how to pray as we ought (Rm 8:26). In the old covenant, this problem was even greater because Jesus had not yet bridged the gap between God and man. We had very little idea of Who God was and what was pleasing to Him (Heb 1:1). He had to tell us everything, even the details of how to worship Him.
Prayer: Father, each day may I learn more about You and how to please You.
"At the entrance of the court there shall be a variegated curtain, twenty cubits long, woven of violet, purple and scarlet yarn and of fine linen twined." Exodus 27:16
God deserves the bestnot just the best in metals, wood, cloth, and oil, but the best in our efforts, time, and commitment.
Prayer: Father, I give You my very best today. I live as if I knew Jesus were coming back today.
Promise: "This shall be a perpetual ordinance for the Israelites throughout their generations." 27:21
"These are the vestments they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a brocaded tunic, a miter and a sash." Exodus 28:4
This chapter regarding the priestly vestments isn't as exciting to us as it was to the Israelites. They may have understood the role of priesthood in God's plan of salvation better than we do. Read this chapter in the light of Jesus, the eternal High Priest (Heb 7:24-25).
Prayer: Father, may I appreciate more each day my priesthood (1 Pt 2:9) and the wonders of Your plan of salvation.
Promise: "You shall also make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, as on a seal engraving, 'Sacred to the Lord.' " 28:36
"Thus shall the priesthood be theirs by perpetual law, and thus shall you ordain Aaron and his sons." Exodus 29:9
Would you spend seven days ordaining a priest? The whole Israelite community did. Do they know something we don't know?
Prayer: Father, thank You for the priesthood of Aaron. Thank You even more for the priesthood of Melchizedek and Jesus.
Promise: "There, at the altar, I will meet the Israelites; hence, it will be made sacred by My glory." 29:43
"Morning after morning, when he prepares the lamps, and again in the evening twilight, when he lights the lamps, he shall burn incense." Exodus 30:7-8
The Israelites believed God wanted all our offerings to smell good. That's why Exodus places so much emphasis on the altar of incense and the fragrant anointing oil. In the new covenant, a sweet-smelling offering does not pertain to natural aromas but to the fragrance of a committed personal relationship with the Lord (2 Cor 2:14-15).
Prayer: Father, purify my motives so I may smell good to You.
Promise: "Throughout your generations this atonement is to be made once a year with the blood of the atoning sin offering. This altar is most sacred to the Lord." 30:10
"Six days there are for doing work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of complete rest, sacred to the Lord." Exodus 31:15
The Lord concluded speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai by choosing Bezalel and Oholiab as the main workers for the Dwelling and its furnishing. The Lord also concluded His instructions concerning the work on the Dwelling by assigning the Sabbath as the day of rest. The focus is on the Lord of the work more than the work of the Lord.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Sunday. Each Sunday, may I experience rest and resurrection.
Promise: "Take care to keep My sabbaths, for that is to be the token between you and Me throughout the generations, to show that it is I, the Lord, Who make you holy." 31:13
"Come, make us gods who will be our leaders." Exodus 32:1, 23 (our transl.)
The Ten Commandments were broken before they were even seen. This was partly due to Aaron's pitiful leadership. When the people clamored for Aaron to make gods to lead them, Aaron did not assert his and Moses' leadership. Rather, Aaron compromised and "let the people run wild" (32:25). Moreover, he refused to take responsibility for making the golden calf. Aaron gave the incredible excuse that he threw some gold jewelry into a fire and a gold calf popped out!
Prayer: Father, raise up great leaders who love people enough to take responsibility for calling themselves and others to obedience and godly discipline.
Promise: "Now, go and lead the people whither I have told you. My angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin." 32:34
"The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another." Exodus 33:11
At first, the Lord refused to continue in accompanying His stiff-necked people to the promised land. He decided to send an angel instead (33:3-4). However, at Moses' request, the Lord agreed to go with the people on their journey. "The Lord said to Moses, 'This request, too, which you have just made, I will carry out, because you have found favor with Me and you are My intimate friend.'
Then Moses was so bold as to ask for an even greater intimacy with the Lord. Moses said, 'Do let me see Your glory!' He (the Lord) answered, 'I will make all My beauty pass before you' " (33:17-19).
Prayer: Father, deepen my relationship with You more in the next month than in the last year.
Promise: " 'I Myself,' the Lord answered, 'will go along, to give you rest.'" 33:14
"When Aaron, then, and the other Israelites saw Moses and noticed how radiant the skin of his face had become, they were afraid to come near him." Exodus 34:30
The commandments listed in this chapter, as well as most other commandments, leave us cold. Conversely, they left Moses aglow. God's "commandments are not burdensome" (1 Jn 5:3), but are a special gift of His love.
Prayer: Father, make me radiant in serving You.
Promise: " 'Here then,' said the Lord, 'is the covenant I will make. Before the eyes of all your people I will work such marvels as have never been wrought in any nation anywhere on earth, so that this people among whom you live may see how awe-inspiring are the deeds which I, the Lord, will do at your side.' " 34:10
"Everyone, as his heart suggested and his spirit prompted, brought a contribution to the Lord for the construction of the meeting tent, for all its services, and for the sacred vestments." Exodus 35:21
Moses took up a collection to build the Dwelling and its furnishings. The people gave so much that Moses had to stop the collection. He "therefore, ordered a proclamation to be made throughout the camp: 'Let neither man nor woman make any more contributions for the sanctuary.' So the people stopped bringing their offerings" (36:6). Has your pastor ever had to stop people from contributing too much to the church?
Prayer: Father, may I cheerfully give You my best, my all, and my life.
Promise: "Both the men and the women, all as their heart prompted them, brought brooches, earrings, rings, necklaces and various other gold articles. Everyone who could presented an offering of gold to the Lord." 35:22
"The various experts who were executing the work, made the Dwelling with its ten sheets woven of fine linen twined, having cherubim embroidered on them with violet, purple and scarlet yarn." Exodus 36:8
Why all these details about the tent cloths, boards, and the veil? This chapter shows that God's people obeyed Him in detail. An eye for details is a sign of love.
Prayer: Father, may I want even the smallest thing to be pleasing to You.
Promise: "There was already enough at hand, in fact, more than enough, to complete the work to be done." 36:7
"Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood." Exodus 37:1
The boards of the Dwelling, the ark, the table, the altar of incense, and the altar of holocausts were made of acacia wood. From the garden of Eden to Calvary, "blest is the wood through which justice comes about" (Wis 14:7).
Prayer: Father, when I see or feel wood, may I thank You for Jesus' death on the cross.
"The following is an account of the various amounts used on the Dwelling." Exodus 38:21
The Israelites built the Dwelling with huge amounts of gold, silver, and bronze. We also are building a dwelling for God, "an edifice of Spirit" (1 Pt 2:5). "If different ones build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, the work of each will be made clear. The Day will disclose it. That day will make its appearance with fire, and fire will test the quality of each man's work" (1 Cor 3:12-13).
Prayer: Father, make my life a building of the highest quality.
"The Israelites had carried out all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses." Exodus 39:42
We should complete all our work for the Lord in the time allotted. With Jesus, we want to say: "It is finished" (Jn 19:30).
Prayer: Father, may I not do less than You've assigned to me.
Promise: "So when Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord had commanded, he blessed them." 39:43
"Thus Moses finished all the work." Exodus 40:33
The Lord doesn't move us on to new things until we've finished the old ones. He doesn't give new revelations until we've obeyed what He's already said. After Moses and the Israelites completed the Dwelling, the Lord then led them on in their journey to the promised land.
Prayer: Father, forgive me for holding You up by my disobedience.
Promise: "In the daytime the cloud of the Lord was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey." 40:38
When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, January 22, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 5, 1996
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
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