The following is part 3 from the chapter Expository Teaching in A Pastor’s Manual on Doing Church – pp78-79
Expository Teaching – What It Is
Nehemiah makes clear for us the work of expository teaching. The people of Israel had been providentially brought back out of captivity and were rebuilding Jerusalem and its wall. They had been born and raised in a foreign country and were barely familiar with the words of Scripture. Few of them spoke Hebrew as a first language anymore, and they could not easily understand the words of the Book of the Law.
In Nehemiah 8:1 the people gathered and asked Ezra, the scribe, to bring out the Book of the Law and explain it to them. It is worth noting that they asked a scribe, and man learned in studying, in Hebrew, and in the specific systematics of the Mosaic Law.
In verses 4 and 5 we are told that Ezra and his fellow scribes stood on a podium, specially built for the purpose, so that the people could see and hear him. The people were expected to, and did indeed, show great attention and respect to the Word and to its expositors. Notice too that not just one expositor read from and explained the Book of the Law, but each one did in turn.
In verse 8 we are told that the expositors read from the Law of God and translated or exposited (“made plain”) the sense of the words so that the people understood what was being read. The emotional reaction, “the people were weeping when they understood the reading,” v9, indicates the stunning impact, not of eloquent and persuasive sermonizing, but of making plain the Word of God.
Verse 10 is not to be missed. The people were told to go and have a feast and a party to celebrate their new understanding of the Word of God. What better reason for us to celebrate joyfully the Lord’s Supper than as a response to the Word?
The people were told to go and have a feast and a party to celebrate their new understanding of the Word of God.
Expository teaching is the careful, interesting, absorbing, illustrating, sometimes humorous, sometimes serious farming of the soil of the Scriptures. It is book by book, line by line, sometimes word by word so that the meaning of the words and sentences are brought to full bloom in the imagination of the listener.
Expository teaching well done soars alone and high above all other forms of spiritual communication in that it uniquely honors the verbal inspiration of the Word. Other forms of “sermonizing” cannot do this because they are removed from the actual text by layers of human thought and wisdom. Although occasionally helpful and motivating, they do not have the same kind of effect as exposition because they are not directly dealing with and from, the theopneustos, the God-breathed text.
The expositor should be careful that his words do not become merely technical commentary about what God said or did, but that they are the words.
And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn. (Isa 8:19-20 NAS)
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Rom 10:17 NAS)