Summary: It not only takes the right message and the right method to understand God’s Word. It takes the right response. Do you want to understand the Bible in such a way that it will be sufficient for all of your life’s needs? Then you must have the right resp
Understanding God’s Word is not an optional thing for us. Understanding God’s Word is crucial. If we want to live our lives in the way that we were designed to live them, we have to understand how to do it. And the only way we can do that is to understand God’s Word. So, the question that this text has brought us to, over the past few weeks is, How can we understand God’s Word? What is He trying to tell us? How is God trying to speak to us? He’s trying to speak to us the exact same way that He was speaking to the remnant in our passage. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen that, first off, in order to understand God’s Word, we have to start with the right message. And then last week, we looked at how not only the right message is important, but the right method is important as well. Now, if all you heard were those two messages, you might think that the burden of understanding God’s Word is all on the one delivering it. You might think that if the preacher is doing his job, everything’s covered. I hope you didn’t think that. But even if you did, tonight’s message should clear that up. Because if the only thing it took was having the right preacher, everybody that listened to Jesus would have been saved. Everybody that listened to Paul would have completely understood God’s Word. But that wasn’t the case, was it? Because it not only takes the right message and the right method to understand God’s Word. It takes the right response. Do you want to understand the Bible in such a way that it will be sufficient for all of your life’s needs? Then you must have the right response to its teaching. Tonight we’re going to look at seven ways that the remnant responded to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. And as we do, I trust that we will be persuaded to respond in the same way when we hear God’s Word preached and taught.
When God’s Word is preached, we are to respond in unity. We’ve talked about this several times over the past couple of weeks. But we’re going to talk about it again because it’s important. If it wasn’t important, there wouldn’t be such an emphasis about it in the text. If we want to understand God’s Word, we have to gather together in unity. ALL the people gathered for the teaching. Not just part of them. Not just occasionally. They all gathered. And notice how verse 1 says that all the people gathered. They gathered as one man. What does that mean? It means that they gathered in unity. They left their differences behind. Were they all equally as “spiritual”? No, some of them had been passing information back and forth to the enemy. Some of them were related to Tobiah and were secretly plotting with him against Nehemiah. But they were all part of the “as one man” who came to hear the preaching of God’s Word. They didn’t bring those differences or disagreements out at that time. It wasn’t the right time or place for that. Later on, we’ll see that Nehemiah will take care of some of that. But not now. Differences were laid aside for the sake of the preaching of the Word. All the men. All the women. And all the children who were old enough to understand. Divisions of age and sex and social class were laid aside. Just like they should be laid aside for us. Everyone must be welcome and encouraged to sit in here under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. And if someone comes in here to listen to the preaching of God’s Word, we must gather together with them “as one man”. No matter what they look like. No matter what their background is. No matter if we know them or not. No matter if they have a lifestyle that is an abomination or not. I’m not talking about church membership here. I’m talking about the hearing of God’s Word. And when we hear God’s Word preached rightly, we are to respond in unity. We are to also respond with eagerness.
When God’s Word is preached, we are to respond with eagerness. When you come to church, what are you looking for? I’ll tell you what the remnant was looking for. Verse 1 says that when the people gathered together, they told Ezra to bring out the Book. How many times do we come together and want to bring out anything but the Book. Bring out some good singing. Bring out some emotional speaking. Bring out some good fellowship. Bring out the activities. Bring out something. But bring out the Book? All of it? That’s what the remnant asked for. This wasn’t some sort of spontaneous, mob-rule response either. This was an eagerness that they had to prepare for. This had been in the works for a while. They were so eager to hear Ezra preach the Word that they had already built him a platform so they could see and hear him. And after they got the area cleared, the site prepared, and the pulpit built, they gathered everybody together and called Ezra in. And when he got there, they didn’t ask him to entertain them. They didn’t ask him to tell them cute stories. They didn’t ask him to give them 10 ways to make their lives easier. They asked him to bring out the Book and explain it to them. Why did they so eagerly do that? Because they were eager to meet God. And they knew that the way to meet God is to meet Him in His Word. Are you eager to meet God? Then quit trying to meet him in some sort of ecstatic, mystical way. Meet Him in the way He’s designed. Meet Him in His Word. Eagerly prepare. Eagerly gather to hear His Word preached. How eager are you to hear God’s Word preached? You can answer that by how eagerly you prepare. What would have happened if the remnant would have called Ezra to open the Book to them, but they hadn’t prepared a place for him to launch it from? Their eagerness would have proven weak, wouldn’t it? We have a platform and a building and a pulpit. So how can you eagerly prepare? Here’s a good way. Read the text ahead of time. I preach systematically, so you know where we are going to be next week and the week after that. If you can’t figure it out, it’s usually on the sign out front. Read the text for yourself. Ask it questions. Let it bring questions to your mind. If the sermon doesn’t answer those questions, then ask me about them afterwards. Be eager in your approach to Sundays. That way you’ll expect something when you get here. Otherwise, all you’re expecting is to have something dumped in your lap. And anything that gets dumped in your lap will roll off in the floor as soon as you stand up to leave. If you want to understand God’s Word, you need to respond with eagerness. We also need to respond with endurance.