Summary: Vision, Purpose, Mission, The Word of God
A VIEW FROM THE INSIDE - A View from the Pulpit
March 25, 2018
Nehemiah 8:1-12 (p. 338)
Life has a lot of disappointments. But I doubt if there is one any greater than the realization that you’ve been abused. Webster’s Dictionary defines abuse as “a deceitful act…improper treatment…a corrupt practice.”
We live in a culture of abuse…it’s found reported on in every newscast…it has permeated every arena from Hollywood to the Olympics…Politicians fall daily from its reality and it’s accusations…sinful abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, drug and alcohol abuse.
But I’ve encountered an abuse that devastates believers and unbelievers alike, “Biblical Abuse.” And by that I mean the improper use of scripture…when someone takes God’s Word out of context…or uses it to propagate an agenda…twisting scripture to mean something it does not mean…lifting it out of context to be a prooftext for something God never intended. Those who don’t know better start believing it with all their hearts, only to discover later on that what has been taught is dangerous to their spiritual health and growth.
I think it’s the ultimate rip off for someone to disillusion others through the misuse of scripture.
This truth is something that weighs super heavy on me as I stand before you each Sunday. I truly understand that one day I will stand before God and be judged by how I’ve handled His words to you…as a teacher and preacher…Have I accurately handled them and challenged you to obedience…or have I “tickled” itching ears and compromised its power, have I been more afraid of hurting people’s feelings than speaking the truth with boldness and grace? Have I rightly discerned His truth or have I tried to share mine?
James says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (3:1) We’ll be judged more strictly because we presumed to represent God and His Word…we will be judged by how our life matches our words. Do we practice what we preach? And we’ll be judged by how accurately we teach its truth.
Nehemiah and Ezra have been used by God to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and also the spiritual foundation of God’s people. They had been in captivity in Babylon for 70 years…through Queen Esther and King Artezerxes the Jews were allowed to return home. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther all take place at the same time period…Ezra & Nehemiah are 1 book in the Jewish Bible.
Through the centuries, God’s people have gone through cycles where His word has been neglected or abused and the spiritual condition of His people deteriorates. In His grace, God sends revival and that revival always is found in a renewed emphasis on God’s Word.
Nehemiah 8 shows us a view from the pulpit…spiritual revival when people encounter God’s Word.
I. FOR REVIVAL, GOD’S PEOPLE MUST READ HIS WORD
Nehemiah 8:1 says, “All the people assembled as one man in the square…they told Ezra to bring out the Book…the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel”…The first 5 books…the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
Ezra has brought these from Babylon…Copies are rare…and for 70 years it’s been absent…there are many there who have never heard it read and many that haven’t heard it for a long time. Until the invention of the printing press in the 15th Century, the Bible had to be copied by hand and often there would only be 1 copy in a city, often chained to a pulpit. Some people were illiterate, the Bible needed to be read publicly for the common people to hear it.
I bet most of us have several Bibles (15 in my office as I write these words). Illiteracy isn’t our problem…priorities are. I promise you if we compared how much time we spend watching TV compared to the time we spend in God’s Word the difference would be monumental. One spews out garbage…one the words of life.
I love this quote form Stephen Jo Cole, the preacher at Flagstaff Christian Fellowship:
God could have communicated with us in some form other than writing. He could have sent an angel to each language group with His message and saved Wycliffe Bible Translators a lot of time and effort! He could have had the message communicated verbally from generation to generation. But He chose to put it in written form. That means that for people to know God and His message of salvation, at least one person in the group, and preferably many, have to learn to read and study. I would argue that the strength of a church will be in direct proportion to the number of people in that church who read and study God’s written Word.
Every revival that has ever taken place in history has taken place because of a renewed emphasis on God’s Word.