SBTS Chapel live blog: Preaching as Communion

Communications Staff — March 5, 2009

E.Y. Mullins lecture series

Speaker: Hughes Oliphant Old

Text: Exodus 24:1-12

What are we trying to do on Sunday morning at 11 o‘clock?

This question becomes increasingly urgent as one continues in ministry, and one looks at the text at 11:45 on Saturday night and are still asking, ‘What does this text have to do with my congregation?’

Preaching is first and foremost, worship. Today, I‘ll talk about preaching as communion.

I want to talk about entering the presence of God as kerygma: as proclamation.

After he received the Ten Commandments, Moses most likely spent several weeks instructing Israel as to the will of the Lord. We call this the book of the covenant: a declaration and detailed explanation of God’s commandments.

We don’t usually think of Moses as a great preacher, but he is the first great preacher in the history of Israel. Moses stands at the beginning of the preaching tradition.

Exodus 24:1-12: the initiation of the Sinaitic covenant

– v. 3: Moses told the people all the Lord’s words.

– v. 4: Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.

The Word of the Lord was written and read. We find in this passage that the reading of Scripture is a fundamental act of worship. Exodus 24 is the first detailed account we have of the worship of God’s people. This is a complete service of worship.

Moses reads the Word of the Lord to the people and the people respond by giving the covenant vows, ‘All this we will do’ (Ex 24:7). They make a profession of faith. When this has been done, Moses takes the blood of the bull and sprinkles part of it on the altar and part of it on the congregation.

This act of sprinkling meant that God and His people shared one blood. Israel became God’s people and God became Israel’s God. That is the basic statement of the Sinaitic covenant: God is our God and we are His people. And this covenant is sealed in blood. God and His people entered into a profound communion.

In this service of worship, there is an invitation to enter into communion with God.

Moses sprinkling the blood on the congregation contained a hint of what was to come. Moses said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant.’ In the upper room, Jesus took the cup and said, ‘In this cup is the new covenant of my blood for the forgiveness of sins.’

Nehemiah 8:1-11: Reestablishment of the worship of God in Jerusalem through Ezra

Ezra was understood as a priest, but here is understood as a scribe. The priestly ministry is superseded in this passage by the ministry of the Word.

At the center of biblical worship is the reading and preaching of Scripture.

– v. 4: Ezra stood on a platform to read the Word of the Lord.

This reading was an act of worship. A passage was read, and the Levites instructed the people (vs. 7-8). The Levites interpreted and explained the text to the people.

Luke 4:16-27: Jesus in the synagogue

This passage shows how the reading and preaching of Scripture was understood as worship in the days of Jesus and the apostles.

In modern worship services, the reading of Scripture is often scarce. In contrast, several passages of Scripture were read in the public worship in the synagogue in Jesus’ time.

The reading of Scripture itself is an act of worship. It is to be opened up, explained and expounded to be sure, as Jesus does in Luke 4.

The idea of interpreting Scripture with Scripture should be an integral part of our worship today: Jesus modeled this.

Luke 24:13-32: Jesus with the two men on the road to Emmaus

As Jesus walked with the two men He opened the Scriptures, starting with Moses and all the prophets. Jesus broke bread with the men, the Holy Spirit opened their eyes and they recognized Jesus. Their hearts were strangely warmed.

Wherever the Word of the Lord is, God is present.

After 50 years of being a minister of the Word, Old said he has repeatedly been filled with joy at discovering that in the preaching of the Word of Christ, Christ is with us and supports us with His presence.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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