The All Day Sermon About the Law: The Example of Ezra for Preaching

One of the best examples of preaching in the OT is in Nehemiah 8:3-8, “3And Ezra read from it (the law) 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. 4And Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose…5And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and as he opened it all the people stood. 6And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. 7Also [several] Levites helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. 8They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.”

I want to point out three main things.

  1. The content of the preaching is completely from the scriptures.  Ezra does not go up there and tell the people what comes to his head.  He does not go up there and give them some teaching that he feels God is calling him to give. This is not the case at all.  He is reading from the scriptures and explaining it so that the people can understand it clearly.
  2. Ezra (the “preacher”) lifted God high. He did not simply read the text or simply explain the text.  He lifted God up for the people to see him and worship him.  “Ezra blessed the Lord the great God.”  And notice the result of the heralding of God’s word.
  3. The preaching and teaching led to worship. The people responded by saying “’Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands and they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.”  This is the result of true biblical teaching.  The reason they were worshiping though was not because they were encouraged by Ezra’s words or the message was done in an entertaining way.  He was preaching the Law!  That includes primarily Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  They worshiped because God was speaking to them through the Bible.  The heralding of God’s word leads God’s people to worship!

This is blog one is a series on Biblical Proclamation.  Check part two: What is the Content of Faithful Proclamation?