Many years ago, while I was studying in school to prepare to be a pastor, I came to this part of Nehemiah and was profoundly impacted by it. For me, we have here the best definition of what preaching is to be. It’s found in 8:8: “They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” How simple, yet profound, is that idea. Ever since that time I have sought to follow that model in preaching to God’s people week after week.
I do note that, though Ezra was doing the primary reading, there were others there who also “helped the people to understand the Law” (8:7). Preaching, in its fullest sense is not a one-man job. I am so grateful for our other pastors and teachers in our church who also help folks to understand the Word of God. Their role is vital in the teaching of God’s Word to the church.
So pray for me and for our other pastors and teachers. Pray that we will be faithful to the Word of God to read it and explain it so that people can understand it. That really is all we are called to do. I think when Paul gave his admonition to young pastor Timothy to “preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:2), he was calling him to do exactly what Ezra had done that day in the courtyard of the Water Gate. There is no higher calling.
Prayer: Father, thank you that you have strengthened me to teach your Word all these many years. Thank you that you have given me a place to do that. That you that you have given faithful people who want to hear the Word proclaimed. Help us all to be faithful to your Word and may your Word bear fruit in us and among us. Help us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.