“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Co 14:33 ESV).
The bible is much akin to a road map. Except this is a map of ideas, principles, consequences, parables, and guidance. It is the ultimate philosophical tool for living a purposeful life contingent on peace, love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and suffering. Biblical scripture teaches a truly remarkable way of living out your daily life without bitterness and contempt for others.
However, much like regular maps, if not properly interpreted or read, it will inevitably get you confused and lost. If you were traveling through Texas and have never been there before, you would be lost instantly without a proper Texas road map to meander your way through that majestic countryside. But what if you didn’t even know how to read a map? All you need is basic sight and brain function to look down at a piece of paper and see that a map contains tangible objects that, combined together, direct you in some orderly fashion. However, without proper interpretation or basic knowledge, the objects on the map transform itself into something resembling a Jackson Pollok painting.
Take, for instance, if you were in New York but you had a map of Ohio, what good would that do? Maps are necessary, but even more necessary is the wisdom and knowledge to interpret that map correctly; otherwise, you have a meaningless sheet of paper, with a key that no one can comprehend. Think of this when you think of the Bible. The Bible is complex, far more than you can possibly imagine. It was compiled over one thousand years and had a plethora of authorship. It was written in multiple languages and has since been translated more than any other book in mankind’s history. This makes the study and interpretation of this sacred document much more difficult than imagined. We should consider this when we study scripture. Knowledge and wisdom to decipher what that scripture tells us should not be ignored or taken with a grain of salt. History is festooned with the blood of good men/women who have died in the process of studying, interpreting, and conveying what truths hold in this great book.
The Bible is the roadmap to the truth, and we are the cartographers of life. Dennis Prager wrote: “We live in an age that values- or at least claims to value- knowledge. But knowledge without wisdom tells you nothing about how to lead your life. It is like owning a map but having no destination. If you don’t know where you need to go, knowing exactly where you are is useless.”
I pray my map analogy didn’t lose you but, the Bible can be confusing, and if you don’t have the correct interpretation or intention, this one book could discombobulate your life. There is a reason it is the best-selling book of all time and transcends time, societal norms, scientific study, axioms, and even history. The Bible is your personal playbook to freedom, freedom from everyone and everything around you, and freedom from yourself.
I used to read the Bible when I was a kid. My parents bought me one early on in life and I used the illustrations (it was a children’s living bible) while I read the scriptures that made sense. Most of it is very daunting and fearsome for children, especially the Old Testament. As I got older, I read it less and less, which led me further from my faith. My excuse was that I did not understand what the Bible means, what it was saying, and who it was saying it to. This turned out to be an enormous excuse I used, and so do most, to consciously excuse myself from reading.
This is rather common within the Christian community. It is why we are so dependent upon the church, we need others to interpret what the Bible tells us. Ironically, it was the Church keeping the Bible from us for centuries that led us into so much turmoil during the first millennium. How history repeats itself.
Here are some pointers that might open up your experience trying to read the good book. First, pick a translation that works for you. Research this before purchasing because you might find yourself with a Bible that does not fit your language style and grammatical tone. Second, get familiar with commentaries and side interpretations. Rely on the research of others to guide you in discovering the truth on your own. The bible is so complex and intricate that there are books about books that translate and interpret what the Bible may or may not say. Third, do not rush yourself. I am an ardent opponent to these “read the Bible in one year” programs. It does not matter how much of the Bible you read, it matters how much of the Bible you comprehend. And lastly, let the Holy Spirit be your guide. Pray before, during, and after you read. God will guide you to what you need to hear.
Personally, it may take me one week to read just one chapter. I spent two months reading Genesis, and one week to read the Gospel of John… chapter one! “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Give me a break, who got that their first time? I dissect the scriptures, I study them, I meditate on them. If I can’t make sense of a passage, I keep studying it until it makes sense. The Bible is not abstract, or nonsensical. Never make the mistake of thinking God is illogical, the Bible makes sense. Most atheists make the cardinal mistake of believing that the Bible is crude and simple, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus Christ was a logician as much as he was a philosopher. Look up Matthew 7:6, where Jesus talks about casting pearls before swine, the logic behind this riddling proverb is timeless and perfect. Remember Christ preached to the scholarly elite, the theological accomplished, as well as the illiterate, dumb, and blind, all in the same fashion. No other person in history has had such an impact on so many, with such little time, aimed at that much diversity.
Once you have chosen the right Bible for you, and have put some parameters around your understanding, you are ready for the Word.
 Dennis Prager, Exodus, the rational Bible, 2018 page 356