How many miles/kilometers of blood vessels are there in an adult human’s circulatory system?
According to the Franklin Institute and others, if you laid all of your arteries, veins, and capillaries end-to-end, they would stretch almost 100,000 miles (160,0000 km). That’s four times around the circumference of the earth.
Here’s the point: Although the backbone is essential and foundational for human anatomy, there is a lot more to the body than the backbone.
In addition to the backbone, other bones are needed for a complete skeleton – leg and arm bones, for example. Then there are tendons, ligaments, and muscles overlaid with flesh to enable activity. You also need a central nervous system for control. And don’t forget the circulatory system for nutrition and cleansing.
The same is true of the Bible. Although the Historical Backbone of the Bible is essential and foundational to the Bible’s ‘anatomy’ there is a lot more to the Bible than the historical backbone.
For a fuller literacy and a richer experience of God’s ‘Story,’ we need to add to the Historical Backbone of the Bible.
There are other parts of the ‘skeleton’ of historical books that you may not have read yet: Ruth, Esther, 1 and 2 Chronicles, as well as the Gospel accounts by Matthew, Mark, and John. All of these supplement and expand what you have already read.
There are books of wisdom such as Job and Proverbs, as well as 21 epistles or letters in the New Testament (e.g., Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, etc.). Hearing and acting upon the wisdom of these ancient and holy writings enables the follower of Jesus to live life with God-honoring competence and joy. These books are like tendons, ligaments, and muscles that equip the body to act with strength and skill.
Then there are books written by various prophets, voices for God speaking to various human situations at different times. These books include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. There are also minor or shorter prophetic books such as Hosea, Jonah, and Zechariah. These are calls to action, calls to respond to God. Perhaps they are similar to the central nervous system – they express the pain that should make us react and the action that should be taken to make us faithful.
There are also books such as the Psalms. These are like the circulatory system. They pump blood through our system for nutrition and cleansing.
The Psalms act like a circulatory system.
You’ll recall David’s ‘scandal’ as he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba – and then he engineered Uriah’s death. As we read 2 Samuel 11-12, we stand as observers of the actions of David and the other characters.
As we begin to read Psalm 51, we encounter its superscription: “For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.” This draws us to the events of 2 Samuel 11-12 – but instead of being external observers of David’s actions, we are invited to listen to David’s heart as he cries out to God.
The impact of Psalm 51 does not stop there.
Although we may not commit David’s sin, we do commit sins. Following David’s example, we take up the words of the psalm and make them our own as apply it to our own situation. We make our confession to our Lord; we receive the same forgiveness and cleansing; we experience the same renewal.
If you’ve completed the Historical Backbone of the Bible, you are probably asking: “Where do I go from here?”
Let me encourage you to keep reading the Bible. You may want to read the Psalms – learning to take up their words as your own. You may want to read the Proverbs to learn what God says about living life skillfully and faithfully. And what of the portraits of grace we see laid out in Ruth or Jonah. Then there is Isaiah and Romans and so much more.
One recommendation is that you adopt a Bible reading plan. Some of these plans are for different lengths of time, a one year plan probably being the most common. Some are chronological, others thematic, while others lead you through a mixture of Bible texts.
Here are a few examples you can find on the internet:
Read the Bible each day. Choose a place and time that suits your schedule – and make it a priority so that other things don’t squeeze in and push it aside.
As you read, do so prayerfully, expectantly, and responsively. Sit down – at his feet – and listen for His voice (Luke 10:38-42; "Listening Well to God").
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