June 20 I Thursday
“Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” —Nehemiah 8:6
What is the purpose of preaching at church? We find that while Ezra read the Book of the Law of Moses aloud to the Israelites, “The Levites…instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:7-8). The Word of God was not just read, but on the lower platforms, these Levites would explain what it means and the implication of it. This is what preaching is supposed to do––take Scripture and explain it.
Preaching is part of the task given to the church, where we explain the Word of God in a way so that people can understand it. The Bible was written 2,000 years ago in a culture vastly different from ours. In their non-mechanized society, the fastest moving object was a horse, but we live in a technical, highly sophisticated, scientific and speed-obsessed day, which can create a gap in our comprehension of the Bible. We have to put one foot in the truth of the Bible and its context, while the other foot is in this world asking, “What does it mean for us today?”
For example, during the Last Supper when Jesus finished washing the feet of His disciples, He told them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). What did Jesus mean when He said that? Did He mean that when we go to church, we should have somebody there to wash our feet? No! The meaning of Jesus’s words is found in the culture and context. During that time, people would walk on dusty roads and their feet would be covered in dust by the time they got to their host’s place for a meal. Traditionally, someone, usually a servant, would wash the guests feet. But on this occasion, Jesus washed His disciples feet to demonstrate to them: “This is what I want you to do: take the place of a servant. Serve each other in humility.”
As the Book of the Law was being explained to the Israelites, “Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, ‘Amen! Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6). The reading of the Scriptures and the worship of God go together. Preaching sets the scene for worship and worship sets the heart for preaching––they are intrinsically linked. When the Word of God is properly read and explained, people respond with worship.
Prayer: Lord God, praise You for Your marvelous Word. By Your Spirit, reveal what the Bible means, and draw me to worship You daily. Thank You, Lord.