With the year almost over, I’ve been looking at some new Bible reading plans. But, wait, you say, what do you mean with the year almost over? The year is only half over (I am writing this at the end of June). We’ve got another six months to go!
And that is true if you are thinking Gregorian calendar. However, on the Hebrew calendar the cycle of annual Torah readings will be complete in just a couple of months.
But let’s be realistic. Almost everything we think of is based on the Gregorian calendar. When we schedule appointments, make our summer plans, talk about birthdays or anniversaries, pay our bills and just about everything else, it is by the day, month and year of the Gregorian calendar.
We even talk about the Biblical Feasts that way. Is Sukkot early or late this year, meaning September or October? What day is Yom Kippur? In Scripture, those dates are fixed and never change – Sukkot is neither early nor late, it is right on time, and Yom Kippur is always the tenth day of the seventh month. But we make our plans by a different calendar than the Bible uses, so we have to frame the answers to these questions in a way that makes sense to us.
I won’t get into whether, for civil counting purposes, the year begins in the Spring or in the Fall. Maybe, in the fourth Biblical month, the year isn’t almost over at all. So, to clarify, the Hebrew Civil Year is about to enter the final two months, even though they are actually the “fifth” and “sixth” months. Our Torah reading cycle is soon to begin the final book, Devarim (Deuteronomy), and will wrap up at the end of Sukkot – and Sukkot is right around the corner, so be thinking about your plans.
The next two months, Av and Elul, are significant as we approach the Fall Feasts. You can read more about that here. My challenge to all now is to read through the four Gospels, the accounts of the life of Yeshua the Messiah, in each of these two months leading up to the Fall Feasts.
Read The Gospels
So, The Messianic Light has launched a new website, Read The Gospels (https://gospels.messianiclight.com), to help you do just that – read all four Gospels in one month. Because chapter lengths vary quite a bit, I’ve broken this up into approximately the same number of verses each day, taking into account natural breaks in the text. Each day is displayed for you on your screen, and hopefully formatted for easy reading on your phone or computer (I’m still learning how to do that).
The Bible text is from the New Heart English Bible – Messianic Edition. You’ve never seen this in print, because it isn’t currently available in printed format. There is a printed copy of the New Heart English Bible: New Testament published and available at Amazon, but it isn’t the Messianic Edition.
According to the preface, “The New Heart English Bible is a new, easy-to-read version of God’s Word in modern English.” It is an update of the World English Bible (WEB) which itself is based on the 1901 American Standard Version. The New Heart English Bible (NHEB) and the New Heart English Bible – Messianic Edition (NHEB-ME) are in the public domain.
More information on the NHEB-ME is at Read The Gospels and on the New Heart English Bible website, https://nheb.net. As you read through this Bible version, I am interested in your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.
Monthly Reading Plan
The initial reading plan at Read The Gospels is for 30-days. You could choose to start it at any time, but the easiest is probably at the beginning of a month. If a month has 31 days, well, just read something else that day – maybe the entire book of Psalms. Oh, wait, here we are thinking Gregorian calendar again.
In round numbers, we often think of a month as 30 days, though some months have 31 days and February could have 28 or 29 days. (Have you ever recited the months on your knuckles?) But if we consider the lunar months of the Hebrew calendar, they are based on the cycle of the moon as evidenced by its phases. A complete lunar cycle is about 29-1/2 days, so a lunar month in whole days could actually be 29 or 30 days. In fact, on the Hebrew (Hillel) calendar, Av is 30 days and Elul is 29 days.
So while you could start reading on July 1 – the day after I have posted this – or at the beginning of any Gregorian month, my initial intent is that we read together starting on 1 Av (that would be July 10, 2021). By the time this 30-day month has concluded, I will have a 29-day reading plan ready for Elul. After that, both the 30-day and 29-day plans will be available for whatever is the length of the current Hebrew month.
To assist in knowing the Hebrew date, I found a couple of little widgets that give the current Hebrew date and the Gregorian date. They run on the Read The Gospels website, but I haven’t really had time to test them properly. The Hebrew date is supposed to change at sundown Jerusalem time. So while I hope they work, keep your Hebrew calendar handy anyway. You might need to refresh your screen if it doesn’t seem to change. Really, I like to do this but I am not a webmaster.
If you want to use another Bible translation, just follow the Scripture references shown for each day. I won’t be publishing the complete text for the reading of any copyrighted Bible translation for a given day. The important thing is to Read The Gospels.
I hope you all find the new Read The Gospels website helpful.
But these are written, that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31 NHEB-ME)