And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 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. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.- Nehemiah 8:2-8
In the typical “corporate church” on Sunday (or Saturday night for convenience), at best, you might hear a discourse that is 20 to 30 minutes long. The message may or may not use the Bible for its anchor. The speaker might not even quote a single Scripture to support his message. Unfortunately, most of these worship services are little more than a rock/pop concert that includes a little motivational speech somewhere in the middle. The Bible takes a secondary role if it is used at all.
Here in Nehemiah Chapter 8, we find a remarkable event. Verse one showed us that it was the people who were eager to hear the word of God, not just the preachers. Nehemiah tells us that Ezra read from the word of God, and he and the other Levites preached for about 6 hours! Not only that, the people stood the entire time shouting “amen,” lifting up their hands, and bowing down their heads! This was a great revival and it was ALL PREACHING!
Here are a few other things of note in this great revival service:
- There were not several different services. They found a way for everyone to worship together as families.
- No one complained about the time. They devoted themselves to worship and nothing else.
- The content of the messages was completely scripture related. They gave expository delivery of the Word and then explained what each verse meant.
Some might say, “Well, that was then. The New Testament worship looked nothing like that.” Wrong. It looked exactly like this, long sermons and all. As a matter of fact, the Lord typically blessed the congregation abundantly when they met in such a manner!
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. – Acts 20:7-12
In an effort to increase congregation size, I fear many have moved away from this Biblical model to the entertainment model. Perhaps instead of a concert, the people of God need to rebuild the walls of their lives in repentance so that they may be blessed with true revival in their worship.