Lewis McClendon  BCMN

Preaching Principles in Nehemiah 8

In Nehemiah 8 Ezra speaks to the people who had rebuilt the wall. This chapter gives us a pattern we can use to preach and teach with clarity. This chapter gives us the two-part plan of preaching and teaching and the result of clearly communicating the Word of God.

The first part of the plan found in Nehemiah 8 is to read the Word.

Nehemiah 8:3

 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

Biblical teaching and preaching begins with the Bible. We look to the Bible to see what it says. Our ideas are not important; God’s ideas are very important. We are not communicating a message from man; we are communicating a message from God.

The second part of the plan is to explain the Word of God.

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.

Once we have read the Word of God, it is now our responsibility to help our listeners understand what we have read to them. We must give them the meaning so they can understand it and apply it. It is the job of the speaker to explain the text in a way that is simple enough for all their listeners to understand. Again, the goal is clarity. Howard Hendricks said that a mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew. If the preacher is not completely clear about what a verse is saying, his listeners will miss what the verse is saying and will not be able to apply the point of the verse to their life. Even when a preacher or teacher does understand the text, they still have the responsibility to make the meaning clear for their listeners. Many seminary professors have said that there are four rules for preaching and teaching: be clear, be clear, be clear, and above all else be clear. We are to clearly expound on the Word – give the meaning, show them the intent of the verse, and help them understand what their obedient response is to be. There is a critical need for clarity in our preaching and teaching. Clarity comes in different ways for people. Good speakers use stories and illustrations to apply a verse in today’s world.

The result of following the preaching and teaching plan in Nehemiah 8 is we get to see people obediently respond in obedience to God’s Word.

Nehemiah 8:14-16

And they found written in the law which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month: 15 And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. 16 So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the water gate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim.

When the Word of God was read and clearly explained the people went forth and obeyed! The goal of preaching and teaching is not information; it is transformation. If people attend week after week and are still conformed to this world instead of being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, something is terribly wrong. It could be that we are not speaking with clarity or with a goal of transformation. In Nehemiah 8 we see a changed people.