Summary: In order to understand God’s Word, we not only have to have the right message, we have to use the right method. What is the best method of teaching the Bible in a way that people will understand it? Today’s passage gives us timeless principles concernin
This is our second week of looking at what it takes to understand God’s Word. Last week we looked at the right message. In our passage, as Ezra stood before the remnant and taught them God’s Word, He taught them the right message. As you can tell from what we just read, we’re still in the same passage tonight. Tonight we’re going to see that in order to understand God’s Word, we have to use the right method. In the American church today, our teaching and preaching methodology is one of the hottest debated topics. What is the best method of teaching the Bible in a way that people will understand it? Many times, we want to look to education studies or psychology or sociology to find the answer to that question. But are those the places we should look to see how we should teach God’s Word? No—the first place we need to look is Scripture. Are there any examples in Scripture of how to teach God’s Word? And that’s what brings us to our passage. That’s what our passage is about. Tonight, we’re going to look at this passage and find the timeless principles that it contains concerning the proper method for teaching God’s Word. In other words, we’re going to ask this passage, What is the right method for understanding God’s Word?
The first thing we see in this passage is that our method of teaching the Bible must be public and corporate. We spent a lot of time last week talking about how ALL the people were involved. Ezra called the people to a public gathering. It was in a public place that was accessible to everyone. It was on the street in front of one of the main gates of Jerusalem. Since it was on the street, there was plenty of room. Typically, the street would widen out in front of the gates, so space was not limited. There were as few barriers to access as possible. It seems that everything possible was done to make sure that everyone had access to Ezra’s preaching. So much so that in verse 4, they built a platform so he could be seen and heard by everyone. But not only was the teaching made available TO everyone, it was made available FOR everyone. Verse 1 says that the people gathered themselves TOGETHER AS ONE MAN. Verse 2 talks about the congregation. In verses 5-6, the people reacted together by standing together and responding together and worshipping together. The passage continually refers to “the people” and “all the people”. None of this event took place in small huddles of people. There was nothing individual about it. It was preaching to the entire gathered remnant. Today, we have so many ways to hear good preaching. I listen to preaching all the time. I have hundreds of hours of good preaching loaded on my phone that I can play in my truck when I’m driving. There is preaching on the radio and on the internet and on the TV. All those things are good. But is that where we are to primarily receive our understanding of God’s Word? No, it isn’t. Because God’s design is for His Word to be taught in a gathered community of His people. It was that way in Ezra’s day and nothing has changed. So, why is that so important? Because you can’t interact with a TV preacher. You can’t ask a radio preacher for clarification. You can’t feed off the energy of fellow believers growing in their understanding of the Bible. You don’t have other believers around who will challenge you and discuss the things they heard with you. Those are the things we should expect from being in a corporate body of believers when we hear God’s Word preached. There should be interaction. There should be encouragement. You’re amen might just encourage another person to seat that point in their mind. Amens don’t just encourage me. They encourage the Body. An amen is not applause. It is a way to reinforce a teaching point that was made. When I listen to Adrian Rogers or Alistair Begg on the radio, I can holler amen all I want to. There’s no one there to be spurred on except me. That teaching might be good, but it is not the primary method that God has ordained for our understanding. The method that God has ordained is public and corporate teaching—not private. What method does it take to understand God’s Word? The method must be public and corporate.
The second thing we see in this passage is that our method of teaching the Bible must involve one preacher and many teachers. I kind of ran through those names in the passage earlier. But I want you to picture the scene in your mind. First, they had built a big platform in the middle of the street. And when Ezra came before the people, he stood in the middle of the platform. On his right, stood six men. On his left, stood seven men. There were 14 men standing on the platform. In addition to that, verse 7 says that there were at least another 13 men who were in with the crowd. When Ezra mounted the pulpit, verse 3 says that he read the book of the Law of Moses from the morning until midday. Now, I want you to notice what happened here. Ezra read his Text. It just so happened that his text was the first 5 books of the Bible. And when he completed his reading, he broke into his preaching and teaching. But he wasn’t alone. He was the main expositor of Scripture. But he wasn’t the only teacher. The 13 men on the platform with him weren’t just there for window dressing. We don’t know how they did it or when they did it, but they were involved in explaining the things that Ezra said. And then there were another 13 teachers who were roaming through the crowd. They were doing the same thing. They were teaching. It might have been while Ezra was preaching, I don’t know. I happen to think that Ezra had to take some breaks if he was going to read and preach for ¾ of a day. It was probably during those breaks that the teaching went on. I know that you will not pick up everything I say. I know that the mind wanders when you sit in front of one-way communication. That’s another reason that we gather together. You should continue to teach one another. We’re not going to do this, but I think the ideal method would be to reverse the preaching and Sunday School times. Then after preaching, you could gather in small groups and discuss the sermon and teachers could continue to teach on the points. That seems to be what was happening here, only in several segments. Ezra read the Word. He preached the Word. Then the teachers reinforced the Word in the minds of smaller groups within the congregation. It’s a shame, but logistically, I don’t think we can ever get there from here. But we can carry on the concept of one preacher and many teachers. Teach each other by discussing and reinforcing what you hear from the pulpit. Ask each other questions. Draw commitment and personal application out from each other. “Hey, you know when the preacher was talking about family finances this morning? How do you think I can apply that in my life?” One preacher, many teachers. That is the method that God has ordained for our understanding. But what does the teaching and preaching look like? Does God have a specific method for preaching and teaching? Yes He does. And we see it in the third point.