Friday, February 3, 2017

The Urgent Need For The Urgency Of Preaching In Our Urgent Age

Image result for pulpit
Isaiah 29:14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.”


Today's post is going to briefly reflect on the urgency of preaching in our day and age. Specifically, this is to remind us all, especially preachers, how God has ordained preaching as the main vehicle in which to communicate His Word. The Bible alone is the Divinely ordained means for converting sinners and strengthening his people. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 -

"For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe."

Anyone who preaches God's Word is charged with the task of bring the world of his listeners into the world of the Bible. To understand the significance of Paul's statements on preaching in 1 Corinthians 1:18-21, we need to first consider the Old Testament text Paul is quoting in 1 Corinthians 1:19 - namely Isaiah 29:14.

The crisis of a people in need of a fresh Word from God

The prophet Isaiah in chapter 29 of his prophecy is announcing God's plan to judge His people Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called "Ariel", referring to her once regal, lion-like strength. Jerusalem has exhausted the mercy which God had already showed to her. What Isaiah was predicting had to do with the eventual attacks of Jerusalem by the Assyrian army. The people in Jerusalem had grown cold and callous and their relationship with God. They paid lip service and their sacrifices and their worship to God. They were in crisis. God was delivering another word and really, another chance to a people who were facing pending judgment. 

God is not impressed by man's pageantry. He is more so concerned about whether or not people have a passion for Him. These people failed to match their behavior with their heart. The outcome was disastrous. 

God predicted through Isaiah that King Sennacherib of Assyria would lay siege to Jerusalem and build siege ramps up against its walls so as to overtake it. In volume 43:1 of the theological journal "Tyndale Bulletin", author Robin L. Routledge, in an article entitled: "The Siege and Deliverance of the City of David in Isaiah", summarizes the severity of this historic siege:

"Sennacherib invaded Judah, and, according to his own records captured forty-six fortified towns and laid siege to Jerusalem, imprisoning Hezekiah ‘like a bird in a cage’. At this point the king’s response was one of repentance (37:1ff. cf. 2 Ch. 32:26) and of faith (36:15,18; 37:14–20). A hint of this may be found in 29:4, where it is possible to interpret the whisper which goes up from the city, out of the depths of humiliation and despair, as an appeal to God: recognizing that He alone can bring deliverance, and calling on Him for help.

It is in this context that we find our key verse at the opening of today's post. The crisis was severe. When God raises up a preacher, He is looking to deliver His Word to sinners, His church and a world in crisis.

The church at Corinth to whom Paul wrote was also in crisis. Paul writes near the beginning of his epistle concerning the divisions and carnality afflicting the church. What was needed was a fresh Word of God. Like Isaiah over 700 years prior, the Apostle Paul knew that only one prescription would do: God's Word preached to God's people in desperate need of God. The hour of their crisis required a heavenly herald with a message from on high. Godly preachers were needed to deliver God-centered sermons to a people who needed to be more God-centered.

Noted preacher Dr. Steven Lawson has noted the difference between a lecture and a sermon: a lecture can be delivered tomorrow, next week or next month; but a sermon must be delivered right now!" Lawson's point here is on the urgency of preaching needed to address the urgency of the hour. 

Closing thoughts
Whether we are talking about Jerusalem in 725 b.c, Corinth in 51 A.D or America in 2017 A.D, the reality of our urgent hour requires the urgency of preaching. May all preachers of the Word arise to the occasion and preach their hearts out for God's glory as our every darkening age needs light and life from God's Word. 

1 comment: