• William T. Howe Ph.D.

May 27, 2021

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 8-9

Nehemiah 8:8

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

Have you ever considered the exclusive nature of preachers and preaching? Nowhere in the entire Bible is there a better definition of preaching than today's verse. Really the first work of the pastor, missionary, evangelist, and Bible teacher is outlined so clearly that there is no chance of misinterpretation.

They are to read the book. No doubt this is speaking about a public reading of the book, but before any read the book publicly, there must be a private reading. Frankly, more than a reading, a study of it, a lifetime devoted to its writings. Not a novice in the reading of the book, but a serious student of it. For in its pages is God's Word to all mankind. For clearly, let there be not uncertainty here, before a person reads the book publicly there must be hours invested in it privately. Not only are they to read the book, but they are also to read it distinctly, which means to read it clearly, carefully, and correctly. Years ago I preached at a neighboring church and was told going in by one of the pastor's assistants this wonderful piece of advice. He said, "Pastor will not want you to make any comments while reading the Scriptures. He believes it diminishes the Word of God and even corrupts it. So please, just read the passage clearly without comment. Then preach." I obeyed, and later thought much about it, I think the pastor was right. Every time I preach I try to remember to obey him. I believe it is a piece of advice that has served me well. Read the Word of God distinctly.

After reading the book they gave the sense of the book to the people. Within the pages of God's Word there is sense. It makes sense. But to most people they need someone to give them the sense that God's Word contains. Many can read it, few can make sense of it, fewer still have the ability to give its sense to others through speech. Those who can, the Lord promotes to the office of preacher. Some read the book distinctly then set about to confuse the sense of it, or worse yet, ignore it and give their sense to the people, forsaking the common, straightforward, and wonderful sense of God's Word.

The reading of the book coupled with the faithful ability to give the sense of it to people, leads to the people understanding. People understanding is one of the top priorities in preaching. If a pastor has any motive other than helping people understand God's Word, what would it be? To this preacher the top priority in any message, spoken or written, is first and foremost that our God in Heaven would be glorified, and that He would be pleased. After that, the people coming away understanding some aspect of God's Word is the purpose. Sometimes people that attend a service do not understand a specific detail of God's Word. Many times people have commented to me, "On my way to church I was thinking about a certain thing in the Bible, not understanding it, and behold you preached on it. Now I understand!" What a wonderful thing that is for a preacher to hear. On the other hand, many times individuals will tell me, "I've never thought about that, but now I can see it. Thank you." To me, this is the preacher's payday. Sometimes I can tell how effective the messages have been by the attendance at the altar during the invitation, but not always. Sometimes, later, I see the effects of a message in the lives of the people that heard it.

The essence of preaching is to read the book and make sense of it, thereby causing the people to understand it. That's all there is to it. If you can do this, and you are called by God, get busy preaching. For there is nowhere else in the world deputed of Almighty God to do the work that is performed through preaching.

Until tomorrow, live for Christ today.

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