The Bible is a very big book - so big that it can be off-putting for someone who is new to it. Don't lose heart, however! The basic message of the Bible is a simple one, and God has designed His book in such a way that there is always more to learn and more to discover, even for the 'expert'! The Bible tends to reward its readers in proportion to the effort they put in trying to get to know it and understand it for themselves. Fortunately, navigating the Bible is made a little easier by the fact that it is organised into testaments, sections, books, chapters and verses. These divisions help people find their way around and 'be on the same page' as one another when discussing what the Bible says.
The first thing to notice about the Bible is that it’s big! Apparently God has a lot to say. We may not always feel like we want to hear it, but the fact is that He wants to tell. The Bible is big enough that even the greatest expert would feel that they have never truly mastered it all, never quite got the full measure of God’s message. On the other hand, the Bible is small enough that it’s quite feasible for an ordinary person to get a good sense of what God’s plan is all about (and what they might want to do about it), if they are prepared to invest some time and effort.
Rewards over Time
The Bible reveals its secrets over time, and in proportion to the amount of effort a person is prepared to put in. God could have zapped human brains with His message like the spiritual equivalent of an internet download or a firmware update – but that is not the method He has chosen. He might have provided a convenient set of bullet points, easy to digest and recite. But again, He didn’t.
What He has done is to give us a work of literature – and a large one at that – and ask us to go away and wrestle with it. And the more we are prepared to accept God’s challenge, the more it becomes apparent why He did things that way. The method He has chosen is one which rewards according to the effort put in – the more we show that we want to listen, in other words, the more God will tell us.
Navigating the Bible
Let’s think some more about the actual contents of the Bible, and how we can best navigate it, given that it is such a large book. The first point to note is that the whole thing is divided into two major parts or the two testaments, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Beyond that, the Bible is a library, a compiled work of 66 books, 39 in the Old and 27 in the New.
Beyond that, each book is divided into chapters to make it easy to find a particular part within a book. There are 1189 chapters in total in the Bible – Psalms has the most with 150, and some books like Jude and 0badiah contain only a single chapter.
Chapters are further divided into verses (if you want the stats on those, there are 31,173 of them!), and by a simple scheme of referring to book, chapter, and verse, it is possible to uniquely identify every part of the Bible, and to be on the same page (metaphorically!) with any other Bible reader. This is invaluable when you want to talk about something you’ve read in the Bible with somebody else.