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The Scriptorium

The Power of Preaching

It can move us to obedience. Ezra 6.13-22

Return from Exile: Ezra 4-6 (6)

Pray Psalm 122.1-4.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the LORD.”
Our feet have been standing
Within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is built
As a city that is compact together,
Where the tribes go up,
The tribes of the LORD,
To the Testimony of Israel,
To give thanks to the name of the LORD.

Sing Psalm 122.1-4.
(Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
I was glad when they said to me, “To the Lord’s house let us go!”
Holy City, let our feet be firmly planted in your soil.
Jesus builds His Church forever, where His people sing His praise!
As Your Word decrees forever, we will thank You all our days.

Read Ezra 6.1-22; meditate on verses 13-22.

1. What moved the people to finish building the temple?

2. How did they respond once it was completed?

The people brought their project to successful completion through the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah (vv. 13, 14). There is power in preaching to move the souls of people for the work of the Lord. The preaching of these two prophets was visionary, confrontational, focused, covenantal, and encouraging. Their preaching sustained the people all the many months they labored to rebuild the temple.

Further, it seems their preaching renewed the people’s confidence in the Law of God, for we see them not only finishing the temple but renewing the sacrifices and feasts which God commanded through Moses (vv. 16-22). As God had promised, when His people are obedient to His Word, He makes even their enemies to be at peace with them (vv. 13, 22; cf. Prov. 16.7). The result of this was that “the LORD made them joyful” (v. 22). Hearing and heeding the Word of God is not a drudge. It’s not a tiresome duty. It is the source of joy because by so doing we connect with and grow in our love for the God of all joy.

This raises many questions in my mind about the nature of preaching and how to preach so that the work of the Lord goes forward. It reminds us that God’s Word is truly living and powerful, and when we proclaim it as He intends, He will use it to build His temples—our lives and our churches. Much preaching today lacks vision, confrontation, conviction, and specific encouragement in the work of the Lord. We are captive to the felt needs and whims of the people we’re trying to please, and we preach accordingly. Such preaching moves no one to work, but only to want to hear more such preaching.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Paul knew how to preach. He was a sincere purveyor of the truth of Jesus Christ and the need to live according to the Law. He knew about worship and strummed that note continually. He understood about the strength gained individually through the Holy Spirit and the necessity for each believer to pursue God’s Word wholeheartedly. He, like the prophets of old, would not have won any popularity contests. Sometimes telling the truth can be offensive to guilty souls who hear it. Paul was not daunted, nor were the prophets. Nor should our current preachers be.

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm…no one stood with me, but all forsook me…But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me…and that all…might hear…And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!” (2 Tim. 4.14-18). Paul knew Whom he was trying to please and it wasn’t his congregants.

“For You…made me bold with strength in my soul…though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The LORD will perfect that which concerns me…” (Ps. 138.2, 3, 7, 8).

“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4.2-5).

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
As it is written:
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
who bring glad tidings of good things!’”
(Rom. 10.14, 15).

There is, no doubt, a job description for professional preachers. And those men fill the pulpits of many churches all over the world. May God bless them richly as they preach the truth to those who long to be led in worship to the Holy, Triune God; who desire to keep the Feasts—take communion—and pray with other believers; who rejoice to sing praises to their heavenly Father, their Savior Jesus Christ, and the guiding Holy Spirit. We need preachers to assist us in those glorious acts of worship.

But we cannot put all the burden on the professional preachers. We, too, have been called to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2.12). We have a Personal Mission Field. And in it we are to “Work hard so God can say to you, ‘Well done.’ Be a good workman, one who does not need to be ashamed when God examines your work. Know what His Word says and means” (2 Tim. 2.15 TLB).

Preaching: The Power is available to all; the paycheck falls to a few (Acts 1.8; 2 Cor. 12.9, 10).

For reflection
1. What role should preaching have in your work in your Personal Mission Field?

2. How does preaching affect the soul—heart, mind, and conscience?

3. Is all preaching good and useful? Explain.

The gospel church, that spiritual temple, is long in the building, but it will be finished at last, when the mystical body is completed. Every believer is a living temple, building up himself in his most holy faith: much opposition is given to this work by Satan and our own corruptions. We trifle, and proceed in it with many stops and pauses; but He that has begun the good work, will see it performed.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Ezra 6.13-22

Pray Psalm 122.5-9.
Pray for God’s peace to be with all His people, and that all who know Jesus will rest in Him, be renewed in Him, and seek His Kingdom unto revival, renewal, and awakening.

Sing Psalm 122.5-9.
(Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
On the throne of David, Jesus sits to judge the nations all.
As our holy peace increases we are safe who on You call.
Grant us peace, Lord, by Your favor; for Your people’s sake we pray.
For the Church’s sake, O Savior, we will seek Your good today.

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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