Friday, February 3, 2012

The Old Testament Church

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. (1 Corinthians 14:40 NAS)

Ezra Teaching the LawWe know the church is a gathering of God's people, not a physical building. Yet we cannot deny the existence of certain administrative structure established in most churches today, such as the pulpit, the preaching, the worship, the Bible study, and the cell group meetings. How do all these practices come about in the church?

The answer is in the Book of Nehemiah (NAS).

Nehemiah 8:4-6
And Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose ... And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:9
Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.

Nehemiah 8:13-14
Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests, and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law. And they found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses ...

Nehemiah 8:18
And he read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated ... according to the ordinance.

The administrative structure of the church and the practice of orderliness are not something new or established in recent centuries during the Church Age. They were already in practice since the days of old. As the author of Ecclesiastes say, there is nothing new under the sun, for that which has been is still continually being done (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The important thing is—all things, whether spiritual gifts or church practices, must be done properly and in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Our God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:33). We ought therefore to maintain orderliness at all times in the church and in the gatherings of fellow believers.

Dear Lord, You are the everlasting God, and in You there is no variation or shifting shadow. You do not change Your mind, and will not fail to fulfill Your promises. We know every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, and come down from the Father of lights. Help us therefore not attempt to change that which is good, but to always do all things properly and in an orderly manner. Quicken our hearts O Lord that we may not mourn or weep on the Lord’s Day, but to lift up holy hands in worship and celebration, affirming the teachings of Your word with Amen.

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