The Reading and Preaching of God’s Word
The setting of this passage happens after God allowed the Israelites to return from captivity in Babylon. This takes place after the Jerusalem wall was finished. We pick up the story in Nehemiah chapter 8. I have divided the message into four sub headings with the main heading being the reading of God’s Word and the preaching of God’s Word:
- The Request (Verses 1-2)
- The Method of Reading (Verses 3-5)
- The Actual Process followed (Verses 7-8)
- The People’s Response (Verses 6 and 9-12)
The Request (Verses 1-2)
In verses 1-2, we see the Israelites requesting Ezra to bring the book of the Law of Moses, and more specifically, the one that the Almighty God commanded Israel. Ezra brought the book and placed it in front of all the people who could understand. Those that had the ability to comprehend what was about to be read.
The Method of the Reading of God’s Word (Verses 3-5)
We see the following in verses 3-5, that:
- Ezra opened the book of the Law of Moses, and read from it, from early morning to midday. This is 5 to 6 hours!
- He read in the presence of all who could understand
- Ezra stood and read where all could see him read
- The people listened attentively to Ezra, while he was reading and they stood up when the book was read.
The Actual Process Followed during the Reading and Preaching of God’s Word (Verses 7-8)
In Verses 7-8, we see a more detailed process that was followed during the 5 to 6 hours of the reading. We see that Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses. Then Ezra and those that helped him (the Levites), explained what was being read to the people, and the point of the explanation was so that the people could understand what was read. Therefore the whole focus was on the reading of the book and understanding what was being read. Ezra concluded the reading of the book with a praise to the great Almighty.
The People’s Response to Preaching of God’s Word (Verses 6 and 9-12)
The people responded to Ezra’s praises of the great Almighty by saying “amen,amen”, meaning “let it be so” and they lifted their hands up. They bowed their heads, worshipped the Almighty with their faces to the ground, and because of the word that was read and explained and that they understood, they mourned and wept. They were grieved to the point where Nehemiah the governor, the Levites and Ezra, had to calm them down. This was the People’s Response to God’s word that was read to them and explained to them so that they can understand. Once they understood what was read, they mourned and wept and were grieved.
What do we learn from this passage?
The lessons we learn from this passage is firstly how much respect the people had for the book of the law of Moses. They stood when it was read and they listened attentively. We also see the desire that the people had for the book. They are the ones that asked Ezra to read from the book and it was read for up to 6 hours. We also see the type of preaching that Ezra and those that helped him did. They read and explained what was been read so that people can understand what was read, and this is what preaching of God’s Word is all about. Once the book was read, we see Ezra praising the Almighty for His words. We see people responding to the praises and worshiping God. The people also mourning and weeping and being grieved by what was read. We lastly see people being calmed by the leaders.
Questions for you:
- Does your church have this much respect for the word of God? And Do you?
- Does you Church have the desire for the word of God? And Do you?
- Do you think your church gives enough time to the reading of the word of God and the explanation thereof, with the intention of ensuring that people understand?
- Does the preaching in your church focus on the reading of God’s Word, the explanation of what was read and ensuring everyone understands what was read?
- Does your preacher praise God for His word? And Do you?
- How do people in your church respond to the reading of God’s Word and the preaching of God’s word? How do you respond?
- Do you think that this passage gives us a model for how we should handle the word of God?
If you ask me, my answer is very simple. This passage gives us a model of preaching we MUST FOLLOW. To me the answer to questions 3 and 4 must be YES. Questions 3 and 4 to me is not negotiable.