Responding to God’s Word (Part One)

20150520_1401262 Chronicles 15:1-7

My usual practice in these articles is to look at a passage from God’s word, whether we go through an entire book of the Bible like Ruth or part of a book, like our articles from the Psalms. Right now we are in a brief series on the life and times of Asa, king of Judah, from the book of 2 Chronicles. In our English arrangement of the Old Testament Scriptures, this book is in the “History” section in the first half of the Old Testament. But Chronicles in the Hebrew Bible is in the section called the Writings and is the last book in the OTS (cf. Matthew 23:35).

Our subject from this section of scripture is something that all of us do in our Sunday morning or small group gatherings. We respond to God’s Word. For some, their response is sudden and complete. They simply ignore God’s Word and turn their attention to other matters. Others listen but fail to apply the Word to themselves. It is just an involvement in ritual. Hopefully, all of us will act more wisely and will listen to what the Lord says, and then by the grace of the Spirit, apply the Word to ourselves.

Before we respond, we listen to the preaching or teaching of God’s Word (15:1-7). Most of us are used to one man, the pastor, stand before a group and present God’s message to them. The group was probably Asa and his advisors and perhaps some of the elders of his kingdom. The “pastor” was a man named Azariah son of Oded. The presentation of the word can be an extended monologue or a discussion. There is a place for both, though I think that it is best that a monologue is followed by discussion. People need the opportunity to ask questions and to interact with others about the message of God’s word. It is hard to benefit spiritually if you listen and then run out the door as fast as you can. Invest time in the consideration of God’s message with others.

The prophet prepared the message (15:1-2a). Behind every message delivered, whether by prophet or preacher, you will discover prior preparation of some kind or another. For the pastor-teacher, this ought to include a walk with God that includes the study of the word and prayer, and certainly also the work of the Holy Spirit in illumination and empowerment. Please pray for your pastor and Bible teachers! Observe the act of the Spirit of God. He came upon Azariah son of Oded. The Spirit would come upon a man to speak through him (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21). When the Spirit did this, the prophet would be speaking the exact words of God. Now we speak from the Bible, which is the written yet living voice of God to us.

This gave God’s authority to the prophet. “Listen to me….” Azariah can command attention, since he declared the exact words of God. This included the king and all the people. There are many voices demanding our attention, but you and I must listen to God’s Word and submit to his authority in the written word. This means that we must look at life in conformity with God’s word. For one example, we learn that we must do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). So we choose to speak words that honor God; we seek attitudes that reflect his character; we live as Christ’s ambassadors.

Next, there is the content of the message (15:2b-7). Every message must have truth content or it is worthless; the preacher’s message must communicate God’s message. When it is God’s message, the intent is change in a godly manner. Azariah preached for change. When you teach, your goal must be that the Spirit will bring about Biblical change in people. Otherwise, it is merely an act of entertainment.

  • He delivered a conditional promise (15:2b). This was how God’s promises came to people during the law or old covenant.
  • He provided encouragement from history (15:3-6). Azariah told about their need in the past. He wanted to reacquaint them with the ways of God. The intent was to give hope in God in their present situation.
  • He added direct application (15:7). He called for change in their way of life. In this case, the change was to avoid the trap of discouragement and wanting to give up.

You and I must listen to God’s word with an awareness that God desires us to respond with new thoughts, ideas, attitudes, desires, and actions.

Grace and peace, David