Summary: Exposition of the rest of Nehemiah 8:1-12 about the crucial elements of corporate worship
Text: Nehemiah 8:1-12, Title: A Model for Corporate Worship 2, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/18/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: Run through a host of how-to books about church models and such: Purpose-Driven Church, When God Builds a Church, Simple Church, Comeback Churches, Effective Evangelistic Churches, Five-Star Churches, Breakout Churches, Planting Growing Churches, Total Church Life, just to name a few
B. Background to passage: Remember that Nehemiah and crew finished the walls in chapter six, and in chapter seven they began some reforms in the city to begin rebuilding the people of God. And the last thing that they did was take up a $5 million offering for worship at the temple. And so the obvious thing to do after an offering like that was to have a worship service, and that is what they did. And since so much detail is given about it, I think it is appropriate to consider it as a model for our worship. This was the pattern of the synagogue that developed in the immediate future from this point. First five points were: gathering of those who understood, reverencing the Word, submission affirmed, expression of need for the Word, and attributing value to God.
C. Main thought: Our text tonight is actually verses 7-12 with the remaining points about the model
A. Exposition of Scripture (v. 7-8)
1. These Levites explained the Word and literally “made it make sense” to the people. There is power in the spoken Word, and value in reading it, and hearing it, but the primary purpose of God giving us a Word is to communicate thoughts to us. That is why that preaching is crucial to a worship service. And not only preaching, for there are many kinds and variations, but biblical preaching. Biblical preaching is expository preaching. Taking a text and walking down through it to say exact what God said. If my job is to give you the Word of God, I need not come up with a clever way to disguise it, but proclaim, explain, expound, exposit, the truth that is contained within to the best of my abilities make it just what God said.
3. Illustration: tell about MacArthur’s professor who told him that he missed the entire point of the passage, and that he had no right to tell people that God said things He didn’t say. We have a responsibility to get it right! MacArthur’s 15 things that people inadvertently do when they don’t preach expositorily, “All Christian preaching should be the exposition and application of biblical texts…we are simply pulling rank on people when we tell them and don’t show them from the text,” –Piper, talk about Don’s response to the question, “how was the convention?” explain topical, textual preaching and their downfalls,
4. We must become coinsurers of preaching. Don’t look for preaching that deals with relevant topics. Don’t look for preaching that is loud or quiet, long or short, happy or sad. Don’t look for preaching that holds your attention or is entertaining. Look and listen for preaching that takes a text of scripture and explains it, then applies it to life. Opinions, thoughts, funny stories, clichés, or popular topics don’t change lives. Nor are we called to preach these things. We are called to be biblical waiters delivering, not cooking, the Word of God to His people, simply trying not to mess it up. Poor preaching does about as much damage as good, although God can still accomplish His ends and hit the target with a broken arrow.
B. An Expression of Brokenness (v. 9)
1. The initial reaction during the worship was bowing down. Then as they heard the Word of the Lord being read in their ears, and no doubt the Spirit of the Lord was at work opening their eyes unto their failure to comply with that Word. They burst into open weeping and mourning over their sin. Jesus speaks of a blessing toward those who mourn over sin. Nine different Gr words used to speak of mourning. This one is the most severe. It speaks of soul-tearing, deep, wrenching, and painful anguish; and was usually reserved for the death of a loved one. The people of Nehemiah’s day were utterly broken at their failure. It had been so long since they considered the covenant of the One True God that had been extended to them from their father, and they had so recklessly abandoned.
3. Illustration: Don’t be afraid to cry, it will keep your head from swelling, Randy Frazee, pastor of Pantego Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas, shared this story: I remember seeing a picture of a husband and wife in a gentleman’s office. I said, “Nice picture.” I turned around and looked at the man, and he had tears in his eyes. So I asked him, “Why are you crying?” He said, “There was a time in our marriage when I was unfaithful to my wife, and she found out about it. She was so deeply hurt and injured she was going to leave me and take the kids with her. I was overwhelmed at the mistake I had made, and I shut the affair down. I went to my wife in total brokenness. Knowing I did not deserve for her to answer in the affirmative, I asked her to forgive me. And she forgave me. This picture was taken shortly after that. When I see this picture, I see a woman who forgave me. I see a woman who was willing to stand with me in this picture. So when you see this picture you say, ’Nice picture.’ But when I see this picture I see my life given back to me again.”