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.
Dt 1 — A DEATH-BED CONFESSION
"In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites all the commands that the Lord had given him in their regard." Deuteronomy 1:3
On the eve of his death, as his last will and testament, Moses begged the Israelites to repent of disobedience and to enter the promised land. He reviewed the events of the previous forty years in hope that the Israelites would learn from their mistakes. However, his death-bed confession went unheeded.
Prayer: Jesus, You are greater than Moses (Heb 3:3). Send the Spirit of repentance.
Promise: "But I said to you, 'Have no dread or fear of them. The Lord, your God, Who goes before you, will Himself fight for you, just as He took your part before your very eyes in Egypt, as well as in the desert, where you saw how the Lord, your God, carried you, as a man carries his child, all along your journey until you arrived at this place.' " 1:29-31
Dt 2 — WHERE THERE'S HIS WILL, THERE'S A WAY
"No city was too well fortified for us to whom the Lord had delivered them up." Deuteronomy 2:36
The Lord told the Israelites to be careful not to fight the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites but to engage in battle Sihon and the Amorites. "The battle is the Lord's" (1 Sm 17:47); we will be successful only when we do His will.
Prayer: Father, thank You for making me unbeatable when I do Your will.
Promise: "This day I will begin to put a fear and dread of you into every nation under the heavens, so that at the mention of your name they will quake and tremble before you." 2:25
Dt 3 — SAD
"Go up to the top of Pisgah and look out to the west, and to the north, and to the south, and to the east. Look well, for you shall not cross this Jordan." Deuteronomy 3:27
One of the saddest scenes of the Bible is Moses seeing the promised land but not being able to enter it. May we not fall short of the eternal happiness of heaven.
Prayer: Father, may my death be cause for joy, not sorrow.
Promise: "Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hand with all his people and his land." 3:2
Dt 4 — JEALOUS GOD
"You shall indeed find Him when you search after Him with your whole heart and your whole soul." Deuteronomy 4:29
Our God "is a consuming fire, a jealous God" (4:24). He alone has the right to be jealous. We must not cheat on Him by compromising with the world (Jas 4:4). He wants all our love.
Prayer: Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All!
Promise: "However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children's children." 4:9
Dt 5 — LORD OF LORDS
"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." Deuteronomy 5:6-7
The Ten Commandments focus on the Lord as Lord alone. Count how many times the word "Lord" is used in the commandments.
Prayer: Jesus, may my knee bend and tongue proclaim: "Jesus Christ is Lord!" (Phil 2:11)
Promise: "Be careful, therefore, to do as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, not turning aside to the right or to the left, but following exactly the way prescribed for you by the Lord, your God, that you may live and prosper, and may have long life in the land which you are to occupy." 5:32
Dt 6 — THE STRING AROUND YOUR FINGER
"Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest." Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Of the 612 commandments in the Old Testament, the first and greatest commandment is: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength" (6:4-5). The chosen people tied this commandment around their wrists, on their foreheads, and on their doorposts. Yet, they still didn't and couldn't obey it. Only with the new nature given by Jesus is it possible to obey the commandments.
Prayer: Father, I could never love You if not for Jesus. Thank You for sending Your Son.
Promise: "Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that you may, according to His word, prosper, and may enter in and possess the good land which the Lord promised on oath to your fathers, thrusting all your enemies out of your way." 6:18-19
Dt 7 — JUST BECAUSE
"It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set His heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations. It was because the Lord loved you." Deuteronomy 7:7-8
Why does God love us so much? Why choose us? Why save, heal, and free us? Why send His Son to die for us? God loves us because He loves us. He loves us unconditionally. He is Love (1 Jn 4:16).
Prayer: Father, may I let You love me freely (Hos 14:5).
Promise: "The Lord will remove all sickness from you; He will not afflict you with any of the malignant diseases that you know from Egypt, but will leave them with all your enemies." 7:15
Dt 8 — SPIRITUAL ANOREXIA
"Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord." Deuteronomy 8:3
This is the first Scripture that Jesus quoted in the New Testament (Mt 4:4). God's word is as necessary for life as is physical food. Therefore, we should not be spiritually anorexic but as eager for God's word as babies are for milk (1 Pt 2:2).
Prayer: Father, may I devour Your word. May it become the joy and happiness of my heart (Jer 15:16).
Promise: "Remember then, it is the Lord, your God, Who gives you the power to acquire wealth." 8:18
Dt 9 — UNMERITED
"It is not because of your merits or the integrity of your heart that you are going in to take possession of their land." Deuteronomy 9:5
The Israelites adored the golden calf instead of the true God, but still the Lord loved them and led them into the promised land. "I repeat, it is owing to His favor that salvation is yours through faith. This is not your own doing, it is God's gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished, so let no one pride himself on it" (Eph 2:8-9). "It is precisely in this that God proves His love for us: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rm 5:8).
Prayer: Father, thank You for not giving me what I deserve but giving me Your Son, Jesus.
Promise: "They are, after all, Your people and Your heritage, whom You have brought out by Your great power and with Your outstretched arm." 9:29
Dt 10 — POWERFUL PREACHING
"Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the Lord, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it. Yet in His love for your fathers the Lord was so attached to them as to choose you." Deuteronomy 10:14-15
Deuteronomy is a collection of the best preaching of a few hundred years. Moses vigorously exhorts you "to fear the Lord, your God, and follow His ways exactly, to love and serve the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul, to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord" (10:12-13). But even the greatest preaching of the century wasn't enough to circumcise the hearts of the people (10:16). They needed the Savior.
Prayer: Jesus, explain to me the Scriptures so Your word will burn in my heart (Lk 24:32).
Promise: "The Lord, your God, has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky." 10:22
Dt 12 — LORD OF LIFE-STYLE
"Take care not to offer up your holocausts in any place you fancy, but offer them up in the place which the Lord chooses." Deuteronomy 12:13-14
The Lord is Lord of all the aspects of our life from our place of worship to our meals. Let Him be Lord of your life-style minute by minute.
Prayer: Father, make me holy in every aspect of my conduct (1 Pt 1:15).
Promise: "When the Lord, your God, removes the nations from your way as you advance to dispossess them, be on your guard!" 12:29
Dt 13 — "LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION"
"You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery." Deuteronomy 13:11
In the old covenant, they were to kill anyone who enticed them to serve other gods even brothers, sons, daughters, beloved wives, intimate friends, prophets, and whole cities. In the new covenant, we don't kill people since "our battle is not against human forces" (Eph 6:12). However, we attack the gates of hell (Mt 16:18) and bring down the strongholds of the evil one (2 Cor 10:4).
Prayer: Father, may I take great measures to resist temptation (see Mt 5:29-30).
Promise: "Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst." 13:6
Dt 14 — "PECULIAR PEOPLE"
"For you are a people sacred to the Lord, your God, Who has chosen you from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly His own." Deuteronomy 14:2
Because we are God's chosen people and born again in Jesus, we look at death, food, money, and life differently than the world does.
Prayer: Father, make my life-style distinctively different than that of the world.
Promise: "...so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake." 14:29
Dt 15 — REST AREA
"At the end of every seven-year period you shall have a relaxation of debts." Deuteronomy 15:1
The Israelites had a Sabbath day on the seventh day and a Sabbath year on the seventh year. In this sabbath year, debts were relaxed and slaves were liberated. In the new covenant, every year is better than even a Sabbath year (see Lk 4:19).
Prayer: Jesus, I take Your yoke on my shoulders, learn from You, and thereby find rest (Mt 11:29).
Promise: "There should be no one of you in need. If you but heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and carefully observe all these commandments which I enjoin on you today, you will lend to many nations, and borrow from none." 15:4-6
Dt 16 — "I'VE GOT RHYTHM"
"You shall count off seven weeks, computing them from the day when the sickle is first put to the standing grain. You shall then keep the feast of Weeks." Deuteronomy 16:9-10
The Lord has given His people not only many commandments, but also a unique life-style and a rhythm of life. The daily rhythm is punctuated by morning and evening worship. The weekly rhythm revolves around the Sabbath. The yearly rhythm is based on the major feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Booths.
Prayer: Father, may I not fit worship into life but life into worship.
Promise: "Justice and justice alone shall be your aim, that you may have life and may possess the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you." 16:20
Dt 17 — HOW TO GET ELECTED
"You shall set that man over you as your king whom the Lord, your God, chooses." Deuteronomy 17:15
The king of the chosen people should not have much money or many cars. He should read the Bible every day. The most important qualities of a king are sexual purity, humility, and obedience.
Prayer: Father, I pray for kings and those in authority to be converted to You (1 Tm 2:2).
Promise: "He shall keep it (the Law) with him and read it all the days of his life that he may learn to fear the Lord, his God, and to heed and fulfill all the words of this law and these statutes." 17:19
Dt 18 — THE ONLY SUCCESS STORY
"A Prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to Him you shall listen." Deuteronomy 18:15
God's government for His chosen people was made up of judges, the king, priests, and prophets. These leaders tried hard but failed, for the Israelites lost everything in the Babylonian exile. Moses prophesied that the Lord would raise up a Prophet Who would be much greater than previous prophets and leaders. This was fulfilled in Jesus Prophet, Priest, King, and Judge.
Prayer: Jesus, name above all names, I adore You.
Promise: "You, however, must be altogether sincere toward the Lord, your God." 18:13
Dt 19 — "MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT" (Jas 2:13)
"Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!" Deuteronomy 19:21
Jesus said: "You have heard the commandment, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.' But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other" (Mt 5:38-39). Jesus does not have to insist on judgment because He is our judgment (1 Cor 1:30). He atoned for all the sins of all time on Calvary. Moreover, we don't need cities of refuge (see 19:1ff) because He is our Refuge. All we must do is believe in Him.
Prayer: Jesus, "our Wisdom and also our Justice, our Sanctification, and our Redemption," I worship You (1 Cor 1:30).
Promise: "The rest, on hearing of it, shall fear, and never again do a thing so evil among you." 19:20
Dt 20 — WAR AND PEACE
"When you go out to war against your enemies and you see horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid of them." Deuteronomy 20:1
The chosen people have a different attitude toward war than the world's. A new house, new vineyard, or new wife take precedence over war. Terms of peace must be offered to a city before attacking it. Even the trees of a besieged city must not be destroyed. Jesus then carried this different attitude toward war to new heights by commanding "no resistance to injury" and love of enemies (Mt 5:39, 44).
Prayer: Father, may I lay down my life to be a peacemaker (Mt 5:9).
Promise: "Be not weakhearted or afraid; be neither alarmed nor frightened by them." 20:3
Dt 21 — INTIMATIONS OF JESUS
"God's curse rests on him who hangs on a tree." Deuteronomy 21:23
Only in Christ is the veil removed from our capacity to understand the Old Testament (2 Cor 3:14-15). For example, in this chapter, compare the city's elders washing their hands with Pontius Pilate's hand washing before Jesus' crucifixion and death (Mt 27:24). Contrast the marriage to a captive with Jesus the Bridegroom's marriage to us bound by sin. The book of Deuteronomy describes a rebellious son as "a glutton and a drunkard" (21:20). Jesus was wrongly described in exactly the same way (Mt 11:19). "Christ has delivered us from the power of the law's curse by Himself becoming a curse for us, as it is written: 'Accursed is anyone who is hanged on a tree' " (Gal 3:13).
Prayer: Jesus, I adore You, the only Way (Jn 14:6) and the only name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
Promise: "Thus they shall be absolved from the guilt of bloodshed." 21:8
Dt 22 — HIGH SOCIETY
"Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst." Deuteronomy 22:21
God revealed to Moses the details of a society based on close-knit family, natural law, and sexual purity.
Prayer: Father, I pray for the conversion not only of individuals but of our society.
Promise: "It is thus that you shall have prosperity and a long life." 22:7
Dt 23 — "A HOLY NATION" (1 Pt 2:9)
"You must keep your solemn word and fulfill the votive offering you have freely promised to the Lord." Deuteronomy 23:24
God's chosen people are holy, whole, clean, free, pure, just, and truthful. In summary, we are uncompromised with the world and look like our heavenly Father.
Prayer: Father, may I not be conformed to our culture but to Your word (Rm 12:2).
Promise: "...so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all your undertakings on the land you are to enter and occupy." 23:21
Dt 24 — DO UNTO OTHERS AS GOD DID UNTO YOU
"For, remember, you were once slaves in Egypt, and the Lord, your God, ransomed you from there; that is why I command you to observe this rule." Deuteronomy 24:18
Many of the Israelites' laws are based on the Lord's deliverance of them from the slavery of Egypt. The people were obligated to extend to others the compassion and freedom given to them. Jesus used this reasoning in demanding that we forgive others because we ourselves have been forgiven so much (Mt 18:32-33).
Prayer: Father, because You have set me free, may I free others through forgiveness, healing, and compassion.
Promise: "He will bless you." 24:13
Dt 25 — LAWMAKERS AND LAWBREAKERS
"Everyone who is dishonest in any of these matters is an abomination to the Lord, your God." Deuteronomy 25:16
One law led to another and then to another. Soon there were hundreds of laws, and we couldn't even know them all, much less obey them. If the Law could only be written inside us! (Jer 31:33) If we only had the power to obey the Law! (see Lk 24:49)
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the mercy You made possible by the justice of Calvary.
Promise: "Use a true and just weight, and a true and just measure, that you may have a long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you." 25:15
Dt 26 — THE LAST WORD IN TITHING
"I have purged my house of the sacred portion and I have given it to the Levite, the alien, the orphan and the widow, just as you have commanded me. In this I have not broken or forgotten any of your commandments." Deuteronomy 26:13
Deuteronomy ends fifteen chapters of explaining the Law with instructions on tithing. The last chapter of the entire Old Testament (Mal 3) ends with the command to tithe. Obviously, tithing is not just another commandment; it is especially emphasized.
Prayer: Father, by tithing may I put myself in a position to be fathered by You.
Promise: "Today the Lord is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly His own, as He promised you; and provided you keep all His commandments, He will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations He has made, and you will be a people sacred to the Lord, your God, as He promised." 26:18-19
Dt 27 — CURSES AND PROMISES
"On the day you cross the Jordan into the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster." Deuteronomy 27:2
Moses instructed the people about the ceremonies commemorating their entry into the promised land. The ceremony that gets the most attention is the twelve curses. Moses prophetically realized that the promised land would be cursed because of the people's sin.
Prayer: Father, I repent of cursing myself by sinning.
Promise: "Be silent, O Israel, and listen! This day you have become the people of the Lord, your God. You shall therefore hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep His commandments." 27:9-10
Dt 28 — CURSES AND BLESSINGS
"But if you do not hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and are not careful to observe all His commandments which I enjoin on you today, all these curses shall come upon you and overwhelm you." Deuteronomy 28:15
Of the 69 verses in this chapter, 14 refer to the blessings of obedience, and 54 verses refer to the curses of disobedience. Only by the power of Jesus can we obey the commandments and receive His blessings.
Prayer: Father, by my obedience make me the head and not the tail (28:13).
Promise: "The Lord will open up for you His rich treasure house of the heavens, to give your land rain in due season, blessing all your undertakings, so that you will lend to many nations and borrow from none. The Lord will make you the head, not the tail, and you will always mount higher and not decline, as long as you obey the commandments of the Lord." 28:12-13
Dt 29 — CURSES AND COVENANT
"But it is not with you alone that I am making this covenant, under this sanction of a curse; it is just as much with those who are not here among us today as it is with those of us who are now here present before the Lord, our God." Deuteronomy 29:13-14
Deuteronomy continues to emphasize the curses which result from disobedience to God's covenant. If any "person, upon hearing the words of this curse, should beguile himself into thinking that he can safely persist in his stubbornness of heart, as though to sweep away both the watered soil and the parched ground, the Lord will never consent to pardon him. Instead, the Lord's wrath and jealousy will flare up against that man, and every curse mentioned in this book will alight on him...in keeping with all the curses of the covenant inscribed in this book of the law" (29:18-20).
Prayer: Father, call me to repentance through my awareness of the pollution of my soul and our natural resources (see 2 Pt 2:20).
Promise: "You have seen all that the Lord did in the land of Egypt before your very eyes to Pharaoh and all his servants and to all his land; the great testings your own eyes have seen, and those great signs and wonders." 29:1-2
Dt 30 — CHOOSE LIFE
"I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life." Deuteronomy 30:19
In American politics, "pro-choice" is "pro-death" because "pro-choice" means "do your own thing." In God's word, "pro-choice" is "pro-life" because it means don't "do your own thing"; it means die to self and do God's thing.
Prayer: Father, use me to save the lives of children in the womb.
Promise: "Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him. For that will mean life for you." 30:19-20
Dt 31 — HIT SONG
"When many evils and troubles befall them, this song, which their descendants will not have forgotten to recite, will bear witness against them." Deuteronomy 31:21
Moses continued to plan for the future, assuming the chosen people would sin and defile the land. He wrote a song and taught it to the people so that the song would be a witness against the Israelites in their sin.
Prayer: Father, use a song to convict me of sin and lead me to repentance.
Promise: "It is the Lord Who marches before you; He will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed." 31:8
Dt 32 — HIT PARADE
"So Moses, together with Joshua, son of Nun, went and recited all the words of this song for the people to hear." Deuteronomy 32:44
Here are the lyrics of Moses' "hit song." It can hit us hard enough to lead us to repentance.
Prayer: Father, may I not only see the promised land but actually live in it.
Promise: "Take to heart all the warning which I have now given you and which you must impress on your children, that you may carry out carefully every word of this law. For this is no trivial matter for you; rather, it means your very life." 32:46-47
Dt 33 — READING THE WILL
"This is the blessing which Moses, the man of God, pronounced upon the Israelites before he died." Deuteronomy 33:1
This chapter contains Moses' last will and testament. You are in the will. Read it carefully.
Prayer: Father, I am an heir in and with Christ (Rm 8:17). May I claim my full inheritance.
Promise: "How fortunate you are, O Israel! Where else is a nation victorious in the Lord? The Lord is our saving Shield, and His sword is your glory. Your enemies fawn upon you, as you stride upon their heights." 33:29
Dt 34 — A HAPPY BUT UNHAPPY DEATH
"Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were undimmed and his vigor unabated." Deuteronomy 34:7
Moses died alert, strong, and powerful. However, he did not enter the promised land. May all who have read this book die a happy death and live with the Lord forever in heaven.
Prayer: Father, may I complete my life's work for You (see Jn 17:14).
Promise: "He had no equal in all the signs and wonders the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and against all his land, and for the might and the terrifying power that Moses exhibited in the sight of all Israel." 34:11-12
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
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