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.
Jos 1 — CONFIRMATION
"Keep this book of the law on your lips. Recite it by day and by night, that you may observe carefully all that is written in it; then you will successfully attain your goal." Joshua 1:8
The Lord said to Joshua three times: "Be firm and steadfast" (1:6, 7, 9; see also 1:18). Isaiah prophesied: "Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!" (Is 7:9) We have been made firm (con-firmed) by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Cor 1:21).
Prayer: Father, may I claim every promise You've ever made to me.
Promise: "As I promised Moses, I will deliver to you every place where you set foot." 1:3
Jos 2 — SECRET AGENTS
"They assured Joshua, 'The Lord has delivered all this land into our power; indeed, all the inhabitants of the land are overcome with fear of us.' " Joshua 2:24
Joshua's two spies end up at a harlot's house. They hide from the authorities by sleeping on the roof under stalks of flax. Then they hide in the hills for three days. They return to Joshua claiming victory. This scene is both a comedy and an expression of faith.
Prayer: Father, may we expect success, victory, and miracles because of Your love for us.
Promise: "Everyone is discouraged because of you, since the Lord, your God, is God in heaven above and on earth below." 2:11
Jos 3 — GETTING YOUR FEET WET
"No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan, which overflows all its banks during the entire season of the harvest, than the waters flowing from upstream halted, backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed." Joshua 3:15-16
If we are to receive the promises of the promised land, we must have faith enough to wade into the Jordan and stop its flow. Which promises have you not yet received? Which Jordans must you first stop?
Prayer: Father, may I get my feet wet so I can see Your power and inherit Your promises.
Promise: "This is how you will know that there is a living God in your midst." 3:10
Jos 4 — MONUMENTAL
"Thus these stones are to serve as a perpetual memorial to the Israelites." Joshua 4:7
Joshua was always setting up monuments to help the people remember God's works and His covenant. However, the people needed more than reminders; they needed power to obey the commandments. Paul said: "The desire to do right is there but not the power" (Rm 7:18).
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for saving me from bondage and powerlessness.
Promise: "That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and thenceforth during his whole life they respected him as they had respected Moses." 4:14
Jos 5 — "CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEARTS" (Lv 26:41; Dt 10:16; Jer 4:4)
"On this occasion the Lord said to Joshua, 'Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelite nation for the second time.' " Joshua 5:2
Before the Israelites could occupy the promised land, they needed to circumcise the men and celebrate the Passover. Before we receive God's promises, we must circumcise our hearts "with Christ's circumcision which strips off the carnal body completely" (Col 2:11) and accept Christ, our Passover (1 Cor 5:7) and Lord.
Prayer: Father, I repent of sin and of compromising with the world.
Promise: "Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.' " 5:9
Jos 7 — SOCIAL SIN
"Joshua said to Achan, 'My son, give to the Lord, the God of Israel, glory and honor by telling me what you have done; do not hide it from me.' " Joshua 7:19
We are a family, the body of Christ. The work of one family member builds up the whole body, and the sin of one member hurts the whole body. The sin of one man, Achan, brought about the defeat of Joshua and the whole nation. Many people suffer because of our sins. We must repent.
Prayer: Father, may I confess my sins to a priest and ask him to forgive me in the name of God and of the community.
Jos 8 — DETAILED OBEDIENCE
"Then were read aloud all the words of the law, the blessings and the curses, exactly as written in the book of the law." Joshua 8:34
As at Jericho and Ai, the Lord will give us a detailed plan of victory. When we obey Him, we can't lose. The Lord promises: "Your obedience is known to all, and so I am delighted with you. I want you to be wise in regard to what is good and innocent of all evil. Then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet" (Rm 16:19-20).
Prayer: Father, convict me of any disobedience in my life (see Jn 16:8).
Promise: "Do not be afraid or dismayed." 8:1
Jos 9 — "MORE THAN CONQUERORS" (Rm 8:37)
"Say to them: We are your servants; we propose that you make an alliance with us." Joshua 9:11
The inhabitants of the mighty city of Gibeon were so convinced that the chosen people were invincible that they lied to make an agreement to be the Israelites' slaves. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rm 8:31)
Prayer: Father, may I always remember that Jesus' victory is final.
Jos 10 — HIGH NOON
"The sun stood still, and the moon stayed, while the nation took vengeance on its foes. Is this not recorded in the Book of Jashar? The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course. Never before or since was there a day like this, when the Lord obeyed the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel." Joshua 10:13-14
The Lord threw great hailstones at the enemy and stopped the sun for a day to help the Israelites. "For Your creation, serving You, its Maker, grows tense for punishment against the wicked, but is relaxed in benefit for those who trust in You" (Wis 16:24).
Prayer: Father, I choose to be always on Your side.
Promise: "The Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your power. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.' " 10:8
Jos 11 — GIANT-KILLERS
"No Anakim were left in the land of the Israelites." Joshua 11:22
Like Joshua, you can defeat and kill even a race of giants.
Prayer: Father, make me a David defeating Goliaths.
Promise: "The land enjoyed peace." 11:23
Jos 12 — 31 KNOCKOUTS
"This is a list of the kings whom Joshua and the Israelites conquered." Joshua 12:7
List all Satan's strongholds that you have conquered by using the authority given you by Jesus.
Prayer: Father, from now on make my life a long, unbroken string of victories.
Jos 13 — PRE-PLANNING
"The Lord said to him: 'Though now you are old and advanced in years, a very large part of the land still remains to be conquered.' " Joshua 13:1
Joshua had so much faith that he apportioned to the tribes land that had not yet been conquered.
Prayer: Father, may I act as if I have already received all Your promises.
Promise: "The Lord Himself, the God of Israel, is their Heritage as He promised." 13:33
Jos 15 — "THE LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH" (Rv 5:5)
"This is the heritage of the clans of the tribe of Judahites." Joshua 15:20
The tribe of Judah is emphasized because it gave the world the Messiah, the Son of David, Jesus.
Prayer: Father, make me all You've created me to be.
Jos 16 — PERENNIAL PROBLEMS
"But they did not drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, who live on within Ephraim to the present day." Joshua 16:10
Some people unnecessarily live with some problems for years, even generations.
Prayer: Father, may I move mountains rather than repeatedly climb them (Mt 17:20).
Jos 17 — REAL ESTATE
"Now as for the lot that fell to the tribe of Manasseh as the firstborn of Joseph..." Joshua 17:1
The writer of this book should have been in real estate. Land was very important to the Israelites. "But the meek shall possess the land, they shall delight in abounding peace" (Ps 37:11).
Prayer: Father, may I be lowly and inherit the land (Mt 5:5).
Promise: "You are a numerous people and very strong." 17:17
Jos 18 — PRIME MINISTER
"How much longer will you put off taking steps to possess the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?" Joshua 18:3
List possessions, cities, and countries that the Lord has promised you (see Ps 2:8). Although you have no earthly legal title to these lands and properties, the Lord has given you authority to use them for His glory.
Prayer: Father, by faith may I influence millions of people from several countries.
Jos 19 — V. I. P.
"These are the final portions into which Eleazar the priest, Joshua, son of Nun, and the heads of families in the tribes of the Israelites divided the land by lot in the presence of the Lord." Joshua 19:51
Every tribe and person has an important place in God's kingdom. By His ascension, Jesus has prepared a place for you in His Church and then in heaven (Jn 14:3).
Prayer: Father, thank You for providing dwelling places in Your house (Jn 14:2).
Jos 20 — ASYLUM
"Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of which I spoke to them through Moses, to which one guilty of accidental and unintended homicide may flee for asylum from the avenger of blood." Joshua 20:2-3
There were cities of asylum for those guilty of accidental homicide. At that time, there was no asylum for willful murderers or sinners. Jesus alone could provide that.
Prayer: Lord, my Refuge, my Fortress, my Hiding Place! (see Ps 18:3)
Jos 22 — JESUS, OUR PEACE AND HAPPINESS (Eph 2:14)
"Therefore they assembled their whole community at Shiloh to declare war on them." Joshua 22:12
After finally entering the promised land, are the chosen people living "happily ever after" in the land flowing with milk and honey? No, they are almost ready to start a civil war over a misunderstanding. All the land in the world can't make us happy. We need a Savior.
Prayer: Father, may I be a peacemaker like Jesus, no matter what the cost (Mt 5:9).
Promise: "Now we know that the Lord is with us." 22:31
Jos 23 — PERPETUATION OR EXTERMINATION?
"One of you puts to flight a thousand, because it is the Lord, your God, Himself Who fights for you, as He promised you. Take great care, however, to love the Lord, your God." Joshua 23:10-11
If we love the Lord by obeying Him and refusing to compromise with the world, we will always live in the land of promises. Otherwise, we will be exterminated from the land. Joshua warned us: "Just as every promise the Lord, your God, made to you has been fulfilled for you, so will He fulfill every threat, even so far as to exterminate you from this good land which the Lord, your God, has given you" (23:15).
Prayer: Father, thank You for letting me obey You.
Promise: "Every promise has been fulfilled for you, with not one single exception." 23:14
Jos 24 — DECISION
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
The book ends with Joshua challenging us and our families to commit ourselves to serving the Lord. We will serve somebody (see Rm 6:16). We either serve the Lord or are forced into serving Satan. "Decide today whom you will serve" (24:15).
Prayer: Father, may reading this book not be a mere educational experience. I commit my whole life to Your service.
Promise: "The people promised Joshua, 'We will serve the Lord, our God, and obey His voice.' " 24:24
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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