Thursday, October 8, 2015

8 October 445 B.C. Ezra and Bible Reading. Oh no! Not heavy Bible reading for divine services! People will be bored and not come back!


8 October 445 B.C. Ezra and Bible Reading.  Oh no! Not heavy Bible reading for divine services!  People will be bored and not come back!  What about church growth?  Reading the Bible will turn them off.

God blessed His covenant Church through Nehemiah, a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes (c. A.D. 465-424).  Nehemiah became a Royal Governor of Judah, ruling and leading in favor of God’s people, covenant, Word and promises.  He was a man of prayer and duty (cf. Nehemiah 1.1-6.16).   He led the Church in rebuilding the walls and rehanging the gates in 52 days.
But more important than building walls and rehanging gate was the rebuilding and reassertion of the central and governing importance of the Word of God.  Ezra, a priest and scribe, led the assembled congregation in the reading of God’s Word.
Assembled, Ezra unrolled the scroll and read.  Assistants, probably Levitical priests, assisted in giving the sense of the Biblical text.
They started the reading of God’s Word at daybreak.
Nehemiah 8.1-4.

Nehemiah 8:1-4

1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

(Introductory notes: 8 2 Ezra gathereth together the people, and readeth to them the Law. 12 They rejoice in Israel for the knowledge of the word of God. 15 They keep the feast of Tabernacles or booths)
.And all the people assembled themselves [a]together, in the street that was before the water gate, and they spake unto Ezra the [b]Scribe, that he would bring the book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.
And Ezra the Priest brought the Law before the Congregation both of men and women, and of all [c]that could hear and understand it, in the first day of the seventh month,
And he read therein in the street that was before the water gate (from the morning until [d]the midday) before men and women, and them that understood it, and the ears of all the people hearkened unto the book of the Law.
And Ezra the Scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood which he had made for the preaching, and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand, and on his left hand Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchijah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

Footnotes:


a.               Nehemiah 8:1 Hebrew, as one man.
b.              Nehemiah 8:1 Read Ezra 7:6.
c.               Nehemiah 8:2 Which had age and discretion to understand.
d.              Nehemiah 8:3 This declareth the great zeal, that the people had to hear the word of God.
They read and praised the Lord.

Nehemiah 8:6

1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)
And Ezra praised the Lord the great God, and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed themselves, and worshipped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.
This continued until noon, that is, several hours later.  The people wept and the priests taught…as it should be.

Nehemiah 8:7-10

1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites caused the people to understand the Law, and the people stood in their place.
And they read in the book of the Law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
Then Nehemiah (which is Tirshatha) and Ezra the Priest and Scribe, and the Levites that instructed the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God: mourn not, neither weep: for all the people [a]wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
10 He said also unto them, Go and eat of the fat, and drink the sweet, and send part unto them, for whom none is [b]prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: be ye not sorry therefore: for the [c]joy of the Lord is your strength.

Footnotes:

a.               Nehemiah 8:9 In considering their offences against the Law. Therefore the Levites do not reprove them for mourning, but assure them of God’s mercies forasmuch as they are repentant.
b.              Nehemiah 8:10 That is, remember the poor.
c.               Nehemiah 8:10 Rejoice in the Lord, and he will give you strength.
It can be best summarized by Psalm 119 broadly and verse 11 more specifically.

Psalm 119:11

1599 Geneva Bible (GNV)
11 I have [a]hid thy promise in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Footnotes:

a.               Psalm 119:11 If God’s word be graven in our hearts, we shall be more able to resist the assaults of Satan: and therefore the Prophet desireth God to instruct him daily more and more therein.
Questions:
1.               The centrality of the Bible in worship in 2014?

2.               TBN?

3.               Joey Osteen?

4.               Your own local parish?  More preaching than Bible reading?  If so, why?

5.               What was Cranmer’s view of the power of the reading of the Bible?

6.               Others who evince this confidence in the Bible itself, alone, sufficiently, powerfully, and totally?

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