Sunday School Lessons
Commentary by Walter Albritton
God Still Uses the Holy Bible to Make His Will Known to His People
Key Verse: So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. – Nehemiah 8:8
Every time I read about Ezra opening the book, and reading God’s Word, to the people, I feel the impulse to fall on my knees and shout, “Glory!” What a moment that must have been – people lifting their hands to praise God, shouting “Amen, Amen,” and bowing their heads to worship the living God!
Imagine this, too: they stood for hours, listening intently, as Ezra read the Word of God.
As a pastor, I served at least three wonderful churches where the people had great reverence for the precious Word of God. These people encouraged me every Sunday to teach them biblical truth and to challenge them to live according to God’s laws in the marketplace and in our homes.
Bob and his wife were members of one of those churches. They explained to me, “Our search for a church home ended here one Sunday when we realized that most of the people brought their Bibles to the worship services.
“When the pastor announced his Scripture Reading, we could actually hear the pages turning as people found the passage in their own Bibles. We were looking for a church where people loved the Bible, and we knew this was it.
“We have taught our children not only to read the Bible at home, but to bring their Bibles with them to church. This practice has helped them to become strong believers who look to the Bible as the Basic Manual for Christian living.”
The longer I served as a pastor, the more convinced I became that what people longed for was not clever pep talks from the pulpit, but solid teaching from the Word of God. Repeatedly, I pleaded with God to give me a fresh word from the Lord that would help my people understand how God wanted us to live.
Gradually a chance occurred in my attitude toward preaching. I cared less and less for people to praise me for being a “good preacher.” Instead, my heart ached for people to hear what God was saying through the Scriptures, and to respond more to Him than to me. I realized that, after all these centuries, God is still using the Bible to make His will known to His people.
To be sure, we must not worship the Bible. This would be biblical idolatry. God alone is worthy of our worship. However, we can look upon the Bible with great reverence and awe. It is the Book of Books, the sacred book that more than any other reveals the nature of our God. The Bible can become “holy ground” where God meets us in our need and offers us the grace we find nowhere else.
Every Sunday thousands of teachers and preachers stand before others to read and expound upon God’s Word. What a privilege -- to be a pastor, or a Sunday School teacher, who can share the nuggets of gold we have found in our “mining” of the Scriptures! God surely wants to use every teacher, and every preacher, to give hope and encouragement to those who are listening.
Perhaps the last prayer we should pray, before we stand to teach or preach, should be this:
“Loving Father, long ago when Ezra read your precious Word, you touched his lips and caused the people to understand the reading. Do it again, Lord; do it again today. Touch my lips, and my heart, and cause those who hear me to understand what I am reading. Give us holy reverence for your Holy Word, and hearing you speak to us in our day, cause us to fall on our faces and worship you as our ancestors did. May our worship become love for you as we allow the words of Holy Scripture to introduce us to the Word become flesh, even your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen.”
Never read the Holy Scriptures publicly again without reminding yourself that what God once did, when Ezra was reading, He can do again! + + + +