While there’s an unprecedented and increasing historical trend for Jews and Christians to connect and partner in areas such as support for Israel, combatting antisemitism, and other social issues of common interest, it’s not every day that Jews and Christians unite in prayer, or something as basic as reading the Bible together. This year, however, as part of the “Nationwide Bible Reading Marathon” which is going
global, that is happening in a big way.
Initiated in Iowa on a relative local and small-scale basis, the idea was to provide midwestern Americans the opportunity to come together and read God’s word. Based on its success, the program quite naturally grew by word of mouth. It became national, and then global. Now, the official name, “Nationwide Bible Reading Marathon” downplays the vast worldwide activity that has developed. While “International” would be more fitting, it’s true that throughout dozens of countries the effort is taking a national statue in each of these.
The event will take place around the world on July 14 (7/14) at 7:14 am in each respective time zones. It’s not by coincidence that July 14 was picked as the date. The Book of Chronicles 2, 7:14 says, “If My people, upon whom My name is called, humble themselves and pray and seek My presence and repent of their evil ways, I shall hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Dianne Bentley, Iowa state leader and founder of the initiative explained how the coming together of people all over the world “was all orchestrated by our Heavenly Father, happening at the same time. Hence, 2 Chronicles 7:14 says it all, ‘If my people . . .’ meaning all His people who cover the earth, so why not cover the earth with His word through His people?”
This year, the “Nationwide Bible Reading Marathon” has been brought to Israel, the Laned and whose people about which the verse from Chronicles refers. Israel’s participation was made through a passing but meaningful connection, obviously a divine appointment, a few years earlier. As President of the Genesis 123 Foundation (Genesis123.co), I was privileged to appear on Atlanta’s regional Christian TV station, WATC, along with Jerri Tuck. I was speaking about the Genesis 123 Foundation’s unique programs to build bridges between Jews and Christians, specifically connected to Israel. Jerri was speaking about the statewide effort in Georgia which she was spearheading to participate in then what was “only” a national Bible reading event. We hit it off and stayed in touch. Earlier this year, Jerri reached out and asked if the Genesis 123 Foundation, would take the lead to bring participation from Israel.
Reading the Bible (Tanach) is a no brainer. It’s the shared scripture that serves as a foundation of so many other relations between Jews and Christians. I readily agreed and set out to find others to join me, each reading a chapter of Isaiah in one of several languages. In Israel, Jews and Christians are participating hand in hand. The text will be read in Hebrew and English, and also in Arabic, and Russian, Amharic, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and more.
Of course, the significance of Israel participating cannot be understated. Reading the Bible is especially fitting in the Land where, and about which, it was written. Reading Isaiah in Israel, as Jews and Christians together, is even more significant as he prophesied about the Jewish people in their Land, which is referenced in Chronicles 2, 7:14, the catalyst for this initiative. It is analogous to lighting the Olympic torch in the place where fire was created.
This year, Jews and Christians participating together brings on added significance. Recent surveys show increasing numbers of young people turning away from their churches, synagogues, and other organized religious institutions. The numbers reported are so alarming that, at a glance, it’s as if they cannot be accurate. That Jews and Christians are coming together in this most fundamental Biblical fellowship is precedent setting, and sets a model for young people to connect and reengage. The significance of the trend of millennials turning away from Biblical teachings and values has a detrimental effect in so many ways. Among the areas that Jews and Christians have come together for so many years is in support of Israel. This is also waning as a result of the trend of millennials to turn away from traditional Biblical values. The restoration of these values, even though something as mundane as reading the Bible, can be a redemptive answer to many prayers.
In Israel, this initiative is being spearheaded by the Genesis 123 Foundation. To join in Israel, or anywhere around the world, please contact Gen123Fdn@gmail.com and you’ll be assigned the appropriate verses, or connected with your state or national organizers.