Summary: Exposition of Nehemiah 8:1-12, first of a two-part message from this text about worship in the revival that Nehemiah helped lead
Text: Nehemiah 8:1-12, Title: Model for Corporate Worship 1, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/11/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: Talk about the different options opened to the church planter for worship service like the musical style, the dress, the orders of service, buildings, preaching styles, position of the offering, if any, etc.
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.
C. Main thought: Tonight’s message is the first of a two-part message on the model for corporate worship.
A. Gathering of those able to understand (v. 3)
1. Nehemiah says that they gathered together as one man, and that asked Ezra to bring the book of the law. All of Israel wanted to come. There was no begging, manipulating, bargaining about coming to church, they just got saved, and came to church. And everyone who could understand came.
2. Deut 31:10-13,
3. Illustration: sharing with membership class about the number of Southern Baptists on the rolls that don’t come, The Myth of Adolescence by David Black,
4. I don’t want to stand here tonight and gripe about people not coming to church. Because honestly, we don’t want believers coming that really don’t want to be here. It is not our job, nor our goal, to have every person here at every service. Our job and goal is to make disciples so that they fall in love with Jesus and want to be here whenever the saints gather. Don’t feel guilty about not coming to church Sunday night and Wednesday night, but be afraid because you don’t want to come! But I do think we should consider how often we gather. Maybe it is too much. Also as far as our model goes, I don’t see a separate meeting for adolescents. Why? Well in Israel, you were either a boy or a man. And they brought all that could understand to come and listen. Maybe we should ask whether or not we should have children’s church.
B. Reverence for the Word (v. 5)
1. The people did too things that showed their reverence and honor for the Word of God. First they listened attentively. They circumcised their ears and their minds to focus. They were willing to do the mental labor of fighting off the distractions and wanderings, and really processing what is being said. Secondly, they all stood up when it was read. They were acknowledging that this was not just another book. This book is the actual God-breathed instructive, powerful, effective, authoritative Word. They were reverencing the God who spoke it.
2. Ps 19:7-9, Heb 4:12, Luke 4:16
3. Illustration: historically Baptists are there, that is why the pulpit is in the center, that is why the sermon is the longest part of the service, that is why you all have a bible in hand or in the pew, When Luther became a priest and celebrated his first Mass, in 1507, he trembled so much he nearly dropped the bread and cup. He became so terrified of the presence of Christ in the sacrament that he tried to run from the altar. By the end of his life, Martin Luther wrote 60,000 pages, yet he hoped that "all my books would disappear and the Holy Scriptures alone be read."
4. To those of you who are believers, I believe that you are in sin when the word is being read, sung, or preached, and you are cutting up, talking, or even gazing off into space. This is God speaking to you. This is not some boring punishment that you endure to make your parents happy. God has an appointment to speak to you each week, and to treat it casually is a sin and a slap in the face to God Himself. You say, Pastor, I try, but I can’t. Get off the back rows! Sit with someone else! If you really want to make war on sin, fight like you mean it. Don’t be afraid to make you priority worship on Sunday. Get enough sleep at night! Eat your Wheaties in the morning. Don’t flood you mind with brain-numbing TV and soul-numbing secular, godless, man-centered music on your way to church, so that you might be ready to get in a spiritual zone. Pray that God will make the pastor interesting, and the music stimulating, and your mind ready to receive spiritual truth. Let God know that you actually want to be ready to receive it.