For over fifty years, J. Vernon McGee’s study Thru the Bible has been broadcasted over the radio to a vast, worldwide audience. I found his broadcast soon after becoming a Christian and was immediately drawn by his distinct and iconic voice. He made the Bible understandable and left me craving for more from God’s Word. You might not be in a location where his radio program is still broadcasted, but his five-year Thru the Bible program is available digitally with the Olive Tree app. Here are some excerpts characteristic of Dr. McGee’s unique style.

Excerpt from Genesis 2:1-3

Do not miss the importance of the Sabbath day. What does it mean when it says that God rested from His work? Does it mean that God got tired, sat down to rest on the seventh day, and said that He had had a big week—that He had worked more than forty hours, and that He wanted to rest? If you look at it like that, it is perfect nonsense. God rested from His work. When God finished His six days of work, He looked upon it and it was very good, and there was nothing else to do. Every time I leave my office for the day, I still have work all over my desk. I have never been able to sit down and say, “I’m through. I’ve finished it.” But God did. At the end of six days, He rested the seventh day because His work was complete.

This is one of the greatest spiritual truths there is. The book of Hebrews tells us that as believers we enter into “rest”—that is, we enter into His sabbath; we enter into His perfect redemption. He died on the cross almost two thousand years ago for you and me, and He offers us a redemption that we can enter into. Thus Paul can write: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). I do not even have to lift my little finger in order to be saved—Jesus did it all.

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

—Mrs. H. M. Hall

Excerpt from Genesis 3:15

When God went into that garden looking for man, He said, “Where art thou?” Any anthology of religion tells the story of man’s search for God. My friend, that is not the way God tells it. Let’s tell it like it is: Salvation is God’s search for man. Man ran away from Him, and God called to him, “Where art thou?” Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas in his book, Genesis, A Devotional Commentary, makes the comment that “it is the call of Divine justice, which cannot overlook sin. It is the call of Divine sorrow, which grieves over the sinner. It is the call of Divine love, which offers redemption for sin.” We have all of that in the verse before us—the promise of the coming of the Savior.

God’s search for man is pictured all the way through Scripture. Paul wrote, “… there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11). The Lord Jesus said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you …” (John 15:16). And we can say with John, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God seeks out man, and He offers man salvation, but there is going to be a long struggle that will take place.

Excerpt from 1 Kings 18:25-28

The prophets of Baal put on quite a performance. Elijah just sits there and watches them at first with a good deal of cynicism. They begin to call upon Baal. Nothing happens. They jump on the altar—and that doesn’t help. They become fanatics and display a lot of emotion. Their actions become almost hysterical. Finally, they begin to cut themselves, and the blood gushes out. They are sure this will stir Baal to action. Old Elijah says to them, “Say, it may be that he has gone on vacation and you will have to wait until he comes back. Or maybe he is taking his afternoon siesta and you are going to have to yell louder to wake him up.” Elijah has a big time during their performance. And all the while the people of Israel are watching.

It is John Knox, by the way, who is credited with the statement, “One with God is a majority,” and he knew the accuracy of that statement by experience. Elijah also learned this truth through experience in his day when there had been a wholesale departure of the northern kingdom from God. Under Ahab and Jezebel there was almost total apostasy—Elijah pretty much stood alone. It is true that there were seven thousand people who had not bowed to Baal, but they had retreated to the mountains. Not one of them stood with Elijah. He was not aware that they even existed until God told him.

Elijah took a stand against calf worship. You might say he took a stand against new morality and rock music in the church. He took exception to many of the things that were going on and refused to compromise with the prophets of Baal. When they wrote a new “Confession of Faith” and rejected the authority of the Word of God, he opposed them.

It was Dr. Wilfred Funk who said that the most bitter word in the English language is “alone.” Elijah stood alone. He did not voice public opinion, friend, nor was he an echo—he was no parrot. He was not promoting anyone else and was not a politician. Elijah was more concerned about pleasing God than courting the popularity of the crowd. He sought divine approval rather than public applause. Elijah was not a clown in a public parade. He was a fool for God’s sake. He was a solo voice in the wilderness of the world and he carried on an all-out war against Satan and his hosts. Elijah stood alone, arrayed against the prophets of Baal. He chose Mount Carmel to take a dramatic stand for God.

Several years ago I stood in what is probably the exact area where Elijah and the prophets of Baal held their contest. Mount Carmel overlooks the Bay of Haifa and the blue Mediterranean Sea. It is a long ridge; and way out yonder to the east is Megiddo in the valley of Esdraelon. In this dramatic spot the lone, majestic figure of Elijah stood apart. He was detached. I think he looked bored after a few minutes of the performance by Baal’s prophets. Then that ironic smile crossed his face and you could hear the acid sarcasm in his voice. He used the rapier of ridicule. He taunted and jeered at these prophets. And finally, with wilting scorn, he waved them aside.

Excerpt from Jonah 2:1

Immediately someone is going to say to me, “You believe that Jonah was dead inside the fish and that God raised him from the dead, but it says here that Jonah prayed unto the Lord God out of the fish’s belly—that means he was alive inside the fish.” That is true, but my question is: When did Jonah pray this prayer? Did he pray this prayer when he first got into the fish? Or, when Jonah found himself inside the fish, did he say to himself, “My, I am really here in a precarious position, and things sure don’t look good for me. I want to prepare a prayer to send to God that He’ll hear and answer”? Did he decide to write out his prayer, work on it for a couple of days, memorize it, and then on the third day say the prayer to God?

If Jonah did that, then my interpretation of this is all wrong—I’m all wet, if you please. But if I know human nature at all, Jonah didn’t wait very long to pray this prayer. When he found himself in this condition, you can be sure of one thing: he immediately went to prayer before God. In fact, I think he prayed on the way down, and by the time he got into the fish’s tummy, it was time to say amen.

Excerpt from Luke 2:3-7

Joseph and Mary came out of Nazareth in Galilee and went into Judea to Bethlehem, the city of David. Joseph did this because he was of the house and lineage of David. Why did Mary have to go to Bethlehem? She also was of the lineage of David.

I am thrilled when I read this simple, historically accurate passage with tremendous spiritual truth behind it. Caesar Augustus attempted to make himself a god. He wanted people to worship him. He signed a tax bill which caused a woman and man, peasants, living in Nazareth, to journey to Bethlehem to enroll. That woman was carrying in her womb the Son of God! This is tremendous! This Caesar Augustus tried to make himself God, but nobody today reverences him or pays taxes to him. But that little baby in Mary’s womb—many of us worship Him today and call Him our Savior.

Caesar Augustus was merely the tool in God’s hand to bring to pass the prophecy “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2). This is a remarkable account.

Everything that happened was arranged by God. If anyone had said to Caesar, “Wait a minute; women about to give birth are going to have to be moved in order for you to get your taxes,” I think he would have replied, “I do not care about babies or their mothers; I am only interested in taxes, armies, money and luxury.” Well, that is all gone now, including Caesar.

Excerpt from Philemon 18

We think that the credit card is something new in our day. We can buy almost anything with a credit card—from a gallon of gas to a chain of motels. Credit cards are used so much that one restaurant posted the sign: “We take money too.”

Paul also had a credit card. He had a credit card because he was a believer in Christ. Paul says, “Look, if Onesimus stole something from you or did something wrong, just put it on my account. Put it on my credit card.”

All of this is a glorious picture. When I come to God the Father for salvation, I can hear the Lord Jesus Christ say, “If Vernon McGee has wronged Thee or oweth Thee anything, put that on My account.” Christ on the cross paid the penalty for my sins. But that isn’t all. I am sure that God the Father would say, “That fellow Vernon McGee is not fit for heaven.” Then the Lord Jesus would say, “If Thou count Me therefore a partner, receive Vernon McGee as Myself.” That is what it means to be in Christ—accepted in the Beloved. Oh, what a picture this is of the way God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ accept you and accept me. That makes this a very precious epistle.

Start Your Trek Thru the Bible!

These are just a few examples from Dr. McGee’s writings to give you a taste of what you will encounter in Thru the Bible. Stop by the store and start your journey on the “Bible bus” today!

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