Summary: Ezra's sermon to a weary people brought them joy and renewed strength to serve the Lord. Preaching today is no different. God's Word will bring joy and delight to those who sincerely seek Him.
We have a new pulpit! Today is our first Sunday to share this new piece of furniture. It was carefully selected to replace our old pulpit which was built by Herb Perkins over 30 years ago. We wanted to have something smaller, easier to move and more contemporary in design. This pulpit has both Function AND Symbolism, and so today, I want to take some time to talk about the importance of preaching.
There is a poignant story from the Old Testament that illustrates the way that preaching impacts God’s people. It comes from Nehemiah 8:1-8. In this Old Testament event, the people of God gather to hear from the Law of God. It is a beautiful passage of Scripture. I am especially drawn to verse 8 which says,"They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading."
My question for us today is: Does Preaching Still Matter?
We listen to a sermon every Sunday morning and Evening, 40-50 minutes in length.
We bring our children to church, sometimes reluctantly, convincing them that we need to hear God’s word. Yet, we are told that it’s a modern era. The 30 minute sit-com has conditioned people to mentally tune out after 24 minutes of content. We are told that the visual stimulation of advertising, Television and hi-tech graphics makes auditory learning a thing of the past. I contend that there is nothing that can replace the preaching of the Word of God. Our commitment as a church to the Word of God needs to be upheld. In fact, it is the Word of God that brings HOPE and JOY in our cynical, impersonal, fast paced soceity.
BACKGROUND: Who Were the People that Stood All Day to Hear Ezra’s Sermon?
This was the Post-Captivity period for the Jewish people. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah are one book in the Hebrew scriptures, and they document the return of the Jewish captives after the Babylonian captivity. The history of the Jews returning from Babylon and Persia spans over 170 years. This chapter from Nehemiah gives the details of the completion of the rebuilding project of the walls of Jerusalem.
These returning captives were part of the THIRD WAVE of Captives to return from PERSIA. Nehemiah gives careful documentation of the progression of time. He starts with his first knowledge of the condition of the city of Jerusalem. We read in Nehemiah 1:1-2 that he heard a report about Jerusalem in the month of Chislev. This Hebrew month corresponds to our calendar of somewhere in November or December. When he heard the report, he gained permission of King Artaxerxes to return to Jerusalem. He traveled with a group of Jews over 1,000 miles from IRAN to JERUSALEM to return.
These people Moved their families. They Found Jerusalem broken down and vulnerable. Imagine the DISAPPOINTMENT! Contended against Sanballat and Tobiah. These were farmers who Became builders and soldiers in order to rebuild the walls.
They rebuilt the walls in 52 days!
They had seen GOD’S POWERFUL HAND
They had already done a GREAT WORK motivated by FAITH
They were living through CHANGE
They were concerned for the future of their CHILDREN
But.....they were WEARY
and their WORK WASN’T DONE!
Sound’s a lot like Faith Bible Church!
We have seen God work POWERFULLY!
We are at the end of a SUCCESSFUL and GREAT BUILDING PROJECT
But we are WEARY.....
- weary from work
- weary from life
- weary from service
- weary from a building project and changes in the church ministry
- weary from financial uncertainty
- weary from cultural decay
- weary from others who have walked away from the CHURCH or from the FAITH
- weary from political disappointment
- weary from the news
Our leaders have been discussing this weariness.
We’ve used terms like FATIGUE, LETHARGY, MALAISE, LACK of ENTHUSIASM
I believe that we are a lot like the SAINTS that RETURNED from CAPTIVITY
A great DREAM
But still WORK AHEAD
What Does Preaching have to do with this?
I. God RESPONDS to His People When they HONOR his Word
Nehemiah 8:1–3 "And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. " "So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. " "And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law."