Generally, when we make an attempt at reading through the Bible, we start with Genesis and work our way through the books, in order, until we reach Revelation. The Bible reading plan we've recommended for 2024, begins with Job. Why?! Job is depressing, and frustrating, and an all-around weird way to kick off a new year. Meanwhile, Genesis gives us the creation story, the beginning of all things, and January is a natural time to talk about beginnings.
So, why Job?
This year's reading plan is laid out chronologically in the order that Biblical scholars believe the books were actually written. Even though Genesis deals with the events at the very beginning of time, most scholars believe that the story of Job is actually the oldest part of the Bible.
Job deals with what is probably one of the first - if not, the first - philosophical/spiritual question most people ever ask: What is the deal with evil? What is the purpose - why do we - suffer? Why do bad things happen to good people? Even though Genesis begins with events that happened before Job, as a book it was (traditionally said to be) written by Moses, and there were a lot of people around before Moses was born. And considering human nature, most of those people were probably asking and wondering and trying to sort out their own answers to the central question/issue of the story of Job.
One way of looking at the story of the Bible this way is to see Job as presenting the human experience and the core issue that the rest of the Bible seeks to address. In other words, (spoiler alert!) Job never really gets an answer for why all the things happen to him, but we all share in his experience of suffering in some way. Different people go in different directions with this, but almost everyone turns to some form of religion or spirituality in an effort to make sense of their suffering, or to seek a solution/comfort for their suffering. Once the common ground has been established (there is suffering in the world and we all experience it) Genesis then goes into the explanation of why it's here, how did suffering and evil come into existence, and how is God now working to deal with it once and for all!
Job doesn't end with a very satisfying answer to why suffering happens, but it does end with a heavy emphasis on God's sovereignty. When God finally responds to Job toward the end of this book, he poses rhetorical question after rhetorical question designed to emphasize his power and authority, and Job's (and all of our's) comparative weakness. In the end, Job slaps his hand over his mouth as he realizes that the only way out is to trust God and let him work. Beginning with Genesis, we now get to see what God is doing and how he's doing it.
So, is Job a "weird" way to begin reading through the Bible? Eh, maybe. But it also pushes us to see and hear the gospel story in a different, fresh, and unique way, too.