Effective Teaching and Hearing (9/28)

Thought from today’s Bible reading from Nehemiah 8-10.

The following passage describing Ezra reading the law of God to the people shows how the word of God can be effectively presented by the speaker and received by the audience.

And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:1-3).

Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the Lord the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:5-6).

They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8).

Notice first how Ezra presented the law:

  • He “brought the law before the assembly” (v. 2). He was going to teach them the law, not something else. He also did not try to teach from memory, but brought the book with him to ensure accuracy.
  • He “opened the book in the sight of all the people” (v. 5), making it clear to all that the message was from God.
  • He “blessed the Lord” (v. 6). He recognized his place before Him.
  • He “read from the book” (v. 8) because this contained God’s instructions for them.
  • He explained it “to give the sense so that they understood the reading” (v. 8). Rather than just reading and letting the people draw their own conclusions, he explained it so they understood it correctly.

Now, see how the people received Ezra’s teaching from the law:

  • They asked Ezra…to bring the book of the law” (v. 1), showing an eagerness to learn.
  • They were willing to listen “from early morning until midday” (v. 3), showing patience and a dedication to learning.
  • The people stood up” when the book of the law was opened (v. 5), indicating they respected God and His law.
  • They wanted to worship the Lord (v. 6), honoring Him as He deserved.

We would all greatly benefit if both preachers and listeners did what Ezra and the people did here.

Tomorrow’s reading: Nehemiah 11-13; Psalm 126

[I’m using the Chronological reading plan on the Bible Gateway website if you’d like to follow along, too.]

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