Large Preaching

Nehemiah 8:1-12

Two basic types of preaching – exegetical and topical; all preaching should be expository.

“Expository preaching is a form of preaching that details the meaning of a particular text or passage of Scripture. It explains what the Bible means by what it says. Exegesis is technical and grammatical exposition, a careful drawing out of the exact meaning of a passage in its original context. …Expository preaching differs from topical preaching in that the former concentrates on a specific text and discusses topics covered therein; whereas, the latter concentrates on a specific topic and references texts covering the topic.” Wikipedia

A sermon remains expository and Christ-centered not because it leapfrogs to Golgotha, but because it locates the intent of the passage within the scope of God’s redemptive work. Thus, the sermon’s purpose remains faithful to the text’s original aim of preparing the people of God to understand his redemptive activity; predicting it, reflecting its need, and/or detailing the results of Christ’s work in our lives.” Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching

Neh 8:8, 10 So they [1]read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they [2]gave the sense, and [3]helped them to understand the reading. …Then he said to them, [4]”Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Charles Parker, Seeing the Minor Prophets Redemptively gives this helpful summary:

“It is not difficult to see in the progress of revelation in the Old Testament a clear pattern for the presentation of divine truth. It can be seen in the following chart comparing the progress of revelation in the Old Testament to the four classic steps in a well-ordered sermon.”

[1] State the truthThe Pentateuch Foundations of Redemption

[2] Illustrate it Historical Books  Experience of Redemption

[3] Apply itPoetical Book  Explanation of Redemption

[4] Expect a ResponseProphetic Books Call to Redemption

What makes a talk preaching instead of lecture? Lecturer will state the “truth”, point, thesis, what he intends to communicate. Good lecturer will illustrate it, is part of effective communication. Can stop there and meet definition of lecture. Some lecturers, motivational speakers go to next level, attempt to make some kind of personal application. Is #4 that must be there for thorough preaching – expectation of response, call for some kind of commitment or change in response to proclamation of truth.

Is important to remember: God from beginning has expected/designed written Word to be accompanied by sopken words and active ministry of Holy Spirit. Is important especially with respect to Bible translation – Bible isn’t intended to be stand-alone entity. Means bulk of contextualizing, communicating Biblical truth in way most appropriate for particular culture or people group should be done by preacher-teacher, not translator.

A. State the truth v.8a

“read distinctly from the book”

translate if necessary – scene here is Jerusalem, ~100 years after return of first exiles from Babylon; loss of Hebrew language already well underway

by Neh. 13:23-24 “men of Judah who had married women from Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod (or the language of one of the other peoples mentioned and were unable to speak the language of Judah.”

another ~200 years and effort for Greek translation of Old Testament fully justified – to be sure all understood, Hebrew likely translated into Aramaic

true Christ-honoring preaching is proclaiming God’s Word, God’s truth, reading distinctly from His Book, from the Law of God

350+ times in prophets “Thus says the Lord” – mark of true prophet, communicating not his own ideas but God’s very words

Ex. 4:16 “He [Aaron] shall speak for you [Moses] to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.”

for prophetic (or preaching) ministry to have power, must be accompanied by Holy Spirit; Spirit will only empower proclamation of truth

B. Illustrate the truth v.8b

“gave the sense”

have already made clear what God has said, now what does God mean – in context God’s word was given, how should it be understood (not how was it, how should it; hardened sinners didn’t always hear right)

primary means of communication from God to people – words: Heb. 1:1-2 “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,has in these last days spoken to us by His Son”

Jesus used every kind of verbal communication to explain God’s truth – direct instruction, parables, true stories, commentary on current events

some prophets called on to illustrate by their life/actions

Isaiah – named his kids; Ezekiel – repeated astonishing public action; Hosea – turbulent family life; illustrations in and from real life can make clear explanation of what God meant by what he said

C. Apply the truth v.8c

“helped them to understand the reading”

moving beyond lecture, has goal in view of hearer embracing truth of what he has heard, taking personal ownership of truth

here’s where it gets real – you’ve heard what God said, you comprehend what God means, now what does it all mean to you


given hearer’s specific circumstances / culture may differ from original audience, prophet-preacher will need to explain how principle(s) apply here, now, in this situation

we understand significance of “bread of life”, “whiter than snow”, tropical island culture probably not so much; is why Christ gave pastor-teachers to his church

D. Expect a Response to the truth v.12

“Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared.”

instruction and application of God’s word always has some kind of change in view – James 1:22-25 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves….”

this is consistent with what God expects: Isa. 55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

important note: response, even the one God expects, not always positive – same word that brings many to repentance serves to harden others

truth, especially God’s truth, not neutral – either draws God and people closer together or drives them apart

call to repentance, life-change, etc.

prophets call involved both – turning from ways displeasing to God, returning to God, changing priorities and choices and actions

E. The Prophetic Call to Redemption

roughly 400 year period during divided kingdom, exile and return – 830 to 430 BC

Hosea through Zephaniah – pre-exile; Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi – post-exile (major prophets: Isaiah/Jeremiah pre-exile; Ezekiel/Daniel – exile)

closing in on final period of “former days” (vs. latter days) – God’s last call to his covenant people

earliest prophets warning of impending calamity for Northern Kingdom (Israel); later warned of judgment coming to Judah; Malachi the “final call” before forerunner announced Messiah

prophetic call follows model of good preaching – proclamation, illustration, application, invitation

summary: Micah 6:8-9a He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?The Lord’s voice cries to the city;”

canonical rather than chronological or thematic approach

much uncertainty about actual dates for some of writings

some like Hosea – first verse identifies contemporary kings; Haggai/Zechariah referenced in Ezra; Obadiah no clear time reference to give certainty

inclusion in and ordering of Book of the Twelve superintended by God

“it appears that within a century after the composition of Malachi the Jews had brought together the 12 shorter prophecies to form a book (scroll) of prophetic writing, which was received as canonical and paralleled the three major prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.” NIV Study Bible

looking for Christ

What was God doing before He created the world?” one might well answer in the following manner. Before God created the world, He was purposing worldwide redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ. Parker

Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”

2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,

Titus 1:1-2 “Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,”

Revelation 13:8 “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

task as we undertake study of minor prophets: follow in Jesus’ footsteps

Luke 24:27 “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures.”

every son of Adam and daughter of Eve is born in state of total ruin; Lord Jesus came to call sinners to repentance, continuation of prophets call to redemption through repentance and faith

our only hope same as ancient Jewish people’s – by God’s grace through faith in Christ we will be redeemed from ruin



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