PREACHING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
When one surveys the Scriptures for insight into the “ministry of the Word,” and is focused on preaching in the Old Testament the analysis can be etymological, biographical or even chronological.
Preaching in the Old Testament: Etymology
• qohelet – Preacher (Ecc. 1:1,2,12; 7:27; 12:8,9,10)
• basar – To tell good news (Ps. 40:9; Is. 61:1)
• qara – To call or proclaim (Is. 61:1-2; 2 Kings 23:16; Jon. 3:2)
• qeria – Preaching
• nabi – Prophet, one who delivers an oracle from God. Occurs 309 times in OT. (Num. 11:25-29; Deut. 13:1, 18:20; Jer. 23:16)
• roeh – Seer, vision; used 11 times, emphasizes means by which revelation was received (1 Sam. 9:9)
• hozeh – seer, synonym for prophet (Amos 7:12)
Historically, the earliest reference to preaching is of “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, [who] prophesied” (Jude 14) and of Noah, who is called “a preacher of righteousness”
(2 Peter 2:5).
Peter Adam, when writing about preaching in the Old Testament, in Speaking God’s Word summarizes the OT testimony by dividing it into three major segments:
Preaching in the Old Testament: MOSES, THE GREAT MINISTER OF THE WORD (EXODUS, DEUTERONOMY)
b. Moses writes down the words of God.
c. Moses reads the words of God.
d. Moses the preacher: important features of his sermons:
First, they are an exposition of the law given on Mount Sinai. Secondly, Moses applies his text to his congregation. Thirdly, Moses exhorts the people to obedience (Deut. 1, 5, 29). “We now have the main ingredients of the ministry of the Word – the servant who hears God’s words, the writing down and reading out aloud of God’s words, and the preaching of God’s words by means of exposition, application, and exhortation” (p.40).
Preaching in the Old Testament: AFTER MOSES
The ministry of the Word established in Moses was continued in successive generations; Elijah (1 Kings 17:2,8,16,24); Jeremiah (Jer. 1:4,9); Ezekiel (Ezk. 2:9¬3:1); Amos (Am. 3:7); Proverbs (Pr. 1:8-9); Ezra (Ezr. 7:10,11); (Neh. 8:1-4,7¬8,13,18); “It is worth emphasizing the common elements that we are discovering in the Old Testament ministry of the Word. These include the acceptance of the written or spoken Word as coming from God, the role of ‘Scripture’, the place of public reading and explanation, encouragement to the right response, and the effect of the ministry on the people” (p. 41).
Preaching in the Old Testament: A FUTURE MINISTRY
a. The return from exile, the new exodus; Isaiah 40:3 (see Mk. 1:3; Lk. 3:6; Jn. 1:23)
b. This ministry is not only to Israel, but also to the Gentiles (Is. 49:6)
c. The Servant’s ministry of the Word is the daily gift of God. (Is. 50:4; 55:10-11)
As one examines preaching in the Old testament in search of a “pattern” or “model” for the ministry of the Word, two texts in particular stand out: Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 and Nehemiah 8:1-12.
The preacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us that “good preaching” is the ability to deliver the “words of truth correctly” (Eccl. 12:10). Good exposition involves developing the skill of expounding the Bible using contemporary language and thought to give a clear and powerful proclamation. The elements of both teaching and preaching are made relevant through explanation and application.
In Nehemiah we read, “and they read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly; and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (Neh. 8:8, RSV). Here the exposition of the Word involved three elements: presentation of the Word (they read it); explanation of the Word (they interpreted it); and exhortation based on the Word (they applied it).
-Bryan Chapell, “Components of Expository Preaching,” Preaching 10, no. 6 (May-June 1995): 4. See also David C. Deuel, “An Old Testament Pattern in Expository Preaching,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 2, no. 2 (Fall 1991): 136.
Taking these two texts as models, our own expositional/homiletical analysis of them could prove fruitful. Note the following outlines as representative of how one might approach these texts with a view to expounding them in the preaching/teaching context.
Preaching in the Old Testament: “THE PREACHER ON PREACHING”
I. BIBLICAL PREACHING INVOLVES INSTRUCTION. 12:9-10
1. We preach didactically. 12:9
2. We preach logically. 12:9
3. We preach thoughtfully. 12:10
4. We preach truthfully. 12:10
II. BIBLICAL PREACHING INVITES ADMONITION. 12:11-12
1. It provides principles to guide us. 12:11
2. It provides priorities to guard us. 12:12
III. BIBLICAL PREACHING INCLUDES EXHORTATION. 12:13-14
1. It reminds us of why we are here. 12:13
2. It reminds us of what God will do. 12:14
Preaching in the Old Testament: “PREACHING AND THE WORD OF GOD”
I. PREACHING SHOULD DRAW US TOGETHER TO HEAR THE MAN OF GOD. (8:1)
1. We should gather to hear God’s servant.
2. We should gather to hear the Holy Scriptures.
II. PREACHING SHOULD HELP US TO UNDERSTAND THE WORD OF GOD. (8:2-3, 5, 8)
1. We must read the Word of God. 8:2-3, 8
2. We must listen to the Word of God. 8:3
3. We must honor the Word of God. 8:5
4. We must explain the Word of God. 8:8
III. PREACHING SHOULD MOVE US TO WORSHIP THE GOD OF THE WORD. (8:6)
1. We should bless the Lord with our voice.
2. We should bow before the Lord with our face.
IV. PREACHING SHOULD INSPIRE US TO REJOICE IN THE GOD WHO IS HOLY. (8:9-12)
1. Preaching should bring conviction. 8:9
2. Preaching should bring celebration. 8:10-12
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