The Holy Library is a sermon series that introduces us to the Bible, an incredible library of 66 ancient books, written by 40 different authors over a span of hundreds of years, all inspired by the Holy Spirit and telling the story of God and his love for his people.
Each week, we will have scriptures to read together that will follow the sermon that Sunday. There will be four sections of scripture; you may choose to read it all at once, or to spread it out over four separate days. There will be notes for each passage that will help us begin to engage in the scriptures in new and meaningful ways.
You can follow along by reading the weekly scriptures below, or read ahead according to The Holy Library - Reading Plan.
Two excellent questions to always ask: What did this mean when it was written? What does this mean for me today?
Week 1 | August 14 | Discovering God's Greatest Artifact
The sermon examined some questions about how the Bible came to be as we kicked off the series. But let’s begin our readings with an even more basic question: Why would we want to do this study?
For this week’s readings, we will look at a famous psalm, Psalm 119. The psalms are a collection of hymns and poems. The book of Psalms is easy to find, too - it is right in the middle of the Bible.
The theme of Psalm 119 is the goodness of the law. Though the law is just one type of literature found in the Bible, let this hymn of praise for God, revealed through the goodness of is law, inspire our hunger to know and love the Bible in a similar way.
Reading 1: Psalm 119:1-40
Reading 2: Psalm 119:41-88
Reading 3: Psalm 119:89-128
Reading 4: Psalm 119:129-176
Week 2 | August 21 | The Books of the Law
The Old Testament of the Bible contains many types of literature.
One genre is “law”. The “law” section of the Bible goes from Exodus 20 to Deuteronomy 33.
Here we find about 600 specific commandments that were expected to be kept and followed. That’s a lot, and often, they’re weirdly specific. It can be hard to find an application in our world today, and hard to understand what we’re supposed to do with these.
As we read Old Testament law, we should keep a couple of principles in mind: Another word for “testament” is “covenant.” Not every law from the Old Covenant that God had with His people is still applicable under our New Covenant. But parts of the Old Testament law are renewed in the New Covenant. For instance, Jesus himself mentions the Ten Commandments. And we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. These are explicitly carried over.
Some laws were culturally bound, specific to that time and place. But behind every one of these laws, there is a timeless principle in place. Sometimes the principle is obvious; other times, it can take a little research. But behind these laws, there is always a timeless principle that points us to the holiness and goodness of God.
“All of the Old Testament Law is still the Word of God for us, even though it is not still the command of God to us.” -from Reading the Bible for All Its Worth
We will read four passages from Exodus that show us a sample of the kinds of things recorded in the books of the law.
Reading 1: The Ten Commandments - Exodus 20:1-17
Reading 2: Laws of Restitution - Exodus 22:1-15
Reading 3: When to Have Holidays - Exodus 23:14-19
Reading 4: How to Build a Church - Exodus 35: 4-19
Week 3 | August 28 | Jewish History
Forty percent of the Old Testament is narrative, meaning historical stories. Bible narratives tell us things that happened. Their purpose is to show God’s work among His people.
We often get the purpose wrong. For instance, the hero in the story of David and Goliath is not David, as one might suspect. The hero is actually God. The boy David taunted Goliath by telling him he would be defeated, “so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.” These stories exist so that God gets the glory. Some narratives are famous, and some are more obscure. Some are exciting. Some are... less exciting. But all of them reveal that there is a God who made us and has a plan for His creation.
Reading 1: God speaks to his prophet in a still, small voice - 1 Kings 19:4-18
Reading 2: The culmination of the story of Joseph and his brothers - Genesis 45:1-5
Reading 3: A history of a battle - Judges 7
Reading 4: Abraham asked to sacrifice his son - Genesis 22:1-19
Week 4 | September 4 | Poetry
Our readings will focus only on Psalms, although poetry is found in other places in the Bible as well.
The Psalms are the Word of God, but unlike other passages of the Bible that may be God speaking to us, the psalms are often words spoken to or about God. Yet they are still considered the inspired Word of God. Psalms are prayers and hymns, expressed to God.
There are a few different kinds of psalms, from great lamentations of sadness or frustration to unbridled joy and marvel at God. Many psalms were written by King David, though others wrote psalms as well. They reflect the full range of of human emotions we may feel. Our readings will cover a sampling of these types of literature found within the psalms.
Reading 1: A corporate lament. - Psalms 44
Reading 2: A frustrated psalm with a turning point. - Psalms 73
Reading 3: A psalm of thanksgiving. - Psalms 103
Reading 4: A psalm of Joy. - Psalms 150
Week 5 | September 11
The Major and Minor Prophets and Apocalyptic Writings
There are four major prophets and 12 minor prophets in the Old Testament. But those terms only refer to the lengths of their books; they are of equal importance. Apocalyptic writings are writings about the end times. Revelation and Daniel are where most apocalyptic statements are found. They can be straight-up weird, too. Be cautious about reading them too literally, as they are rich in symbolic references. These books, plus the Prophets, can be beautiful, poetic, convicting, and also some of the hardest to understand.
When we think ”prophesy,” we think “telling the future.” While some prophesy speaks of future events, it is almost always events in the very near future to when they were written. A better word for “prophet” is “spokesperson”. The book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth describes prophets as “covenant enforcement mediators.” The prophets often identify a sin of Israel, restate God’s love of Israel, and predict curses or blessings based on circumstances. They were written during a time of incredible political and religious upheaval, and are recorded for us to remind us to be steadfast and faithful to God and to remember his ways.
Reading 1: False and True Worship. - Isaiah 58
Reading 2: The wrath of God. - Nahum 1:1-11
Reading 3: A prophesy about Jesus. - Isaiah 40:1-11
Reading 4: Idolatry and Praise of God - Jeremiah 10:1-16
Week 6 | September 18 | The Gospels and Early Church History
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and Acts are the narrative books of the New Testament, telling the story of Jesus and of the early days of the church.
The first three gospels are called the “synoptic” gospels, meaning they have a similar view. They share many similarities, and either one was written first and referenced by the others, or there was another common text that they all used as a source. Though similar, each account of the life of Jesus brings each author’s own understanding and perspective, and was written for a different audience. The Gospel of John contains many similar stories, but is unique among the gospels and brings a very different perspective. If you’ve ever used a “red letter” version of the Bible, where the words of Jesus are all printed in red, then these books are where you’ll find those red letters. These are the stories of Jesus.
The Book of Acts may have been written by Luke, and many think of it as a natural extension of the Gospel of Luke, picking up where the story leaves off after Jesus’ resurrection and describing the earliest history of Christians as the church formed.
Reading 1: The birth of Jesus. - Matthew 1:18-25
Reading 2: The Parable of the Sower. - Luke 8:4-15
Reading 3: Jesus is the way to God. - John 14:1-14
Reading 4: Peter preaches to Gentiles. - Acts 10:34-48
Week 7 | September 25
Pauline Letters, Pastoral Advice, and General Epistles
Other than the narratives (the Gospels and Acts) and Revelation, the New Testament is made up of letters. These are either to an individual, or to a group. Occasionally they cover both bases, too - written to an individual, but clearly intended to be shared with a group of people.
Paul wrote many of these letters (called the Pauline letters). When writing to churches, he was often times addressing an issue or question that had arisen. Like listening to only one side of a phone conversation, sometimes it takes a little detective work or reading between the lines to figure out what the original question was. All we get is His answer.
For our reading plan, we will read just one book, to get a flavor of the feel and flow of an entire letter.
2 Timothy is the most personal letter in all of the Bible. Paul is an old man, writing to a younger believer whom he has adopted as his spiritual son. This is almost like a last will and testament, a last chance to impart wisdom, love, and affection to someone he cares deeply for. In addition to its lofty ambitions, it also gives tiny personal glimpses into his life and their friendship (“When you come, bring me my cloak I left in Troas," he writes, for instance.)
Reading 1: 2 Timothy 1
Reading 2: 2 Timothy 2
Reading 3: 2 Timothy 3
Reading 4: 2 Timothy 4