Summary: Exposition of Nehemiah 8:13-18 about the heads of the households coming back for more instruction in the Word to lead their families
Text: Nehemiah 8:13-18, Title: Spiritual Headship, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/25/07, PM
A. Opening illustration: Some quote about the definition of headship from the RBM&W book, Abilene Christian University researchers, Dr. David Lewis and Dr. Carley Dodd have recently concluded a cross-generational study (six different tests) to measure fathers’ positive and negative influences upon teens’ spirituality. The found that "every time" dad’s role "as teacher came out be the most important predictor." Among other top predictors of adolescent spiritual maturity, as related to dad, were his: commitment to Christ, spiritual well-being, prayer life, boldness in discussing issues of faith, genuineness and emotional closeness. Of those teens whose fathers expressed their love well, 84% had a high spiritual maturity, but among teens whose fathers had difficulty doing so, only 39% had a high spiritual maturity.
B. Background to passage: After the offering for worship in chapter seven, and the big worship service in chapter eight, most of the crowd disperses. On the second day, all the heads of the families come back together with the Levites and Priests and Ezra. What we see here is the spiritual leadership of the families of the nation coming back together for more instruction.
C. Main thought: This text gives us insight in to the pattern of spiritual headship and leadership.
A. Strives for Theological Maturity (v. 13)
1. These men were the representative heads of all the families there in Jerusalem. They were returning to seek further instruction from Ezra about the law, because they were viewed as the instructors of their families. And instructors need to be instructed on a continuing basis. As the heads of the homes, they were responsible for the lifestyle and the spirituality of their households. It was their responsibility to ensure that their children were taught and lived out the faith of their fathers. And therefore their commitment to that task is demonstrated by their coming back for more depth in learning of the word.
2. 1 Cor 11:3, Deut 6:4-9,
3. Illustration: Dr. Patterson’s instructions to youth ministers was always to teach them what their parents don’t know and have never learned, but that should be a challenge to parents, This man wanted to study the scriptures, but he could not read. He prayed for God to help him learn to read. In time a teacher came to his village, and he asked the teacher to help him. He learned the alphabet. He studied sounds and learned to put the letters together to make words. Soon he was reading simple words. The more he practiced, the more he learned. He thanked the Lord for sending the teacher and for helping him learn to read. This man has increased his faith, humility, and knowledge to such a degree that he has served as a counselor with his church. Now, remember these are Christians. • 48% could not name the four Gospels.
• 52% cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ disciples.• 60% of American Christians can’t name even five of the 10 Commandments. • When asking graduating high school “born again Christians” over 50% of them thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.• 61% of American Christians think the Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham. • 71% of American Christians think “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse. No wonder George Barna said, “Americans revere the Bible but, by and large they don’t know what it says. And because they don’t know it, they have become a nation of Biblical illiterates.”
4. Even the instructors of others need to be instructed. This goes not only for fathers, but for all those that are commissioned to teach biblical truth. Those commissioned to teach must be committed to going the extra mile in their study. Parents, fathers, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your children embrace the faith of Christ. Therefore you must deepen your commitment to learning the faith. We are much in need of godly men who will look past Lifeway, SS, and morning worship, and dig deeply into the faith. We need men who will seek out knowledge and those who will give them that knowledge. We need to buck the status quo when it comes to what we know about the bible.
B. Organizes Family Life Biblically (v. 14)
1. So what we see in this verse is during their study of the Word they found that God had told the children of Israel to dwell in booths as a remembrance of their time spent in the wilderness wandering around. And so each of these men felt compelled to go back and lead their families in preparing booths. We will get to the ceremony in a minute, but the point is that these men were committed to the authority of scripture, not only in a theological, theoretical way, but in a practical, everyday way.