Thursday, February 25, 2010

REVIEW: An Old Testament Pattern For Expository Preaching

David C. Deuel. "An Old Testament Pattern For Expository Preaching." The Master's Seminary Journal, Fall 1991: 125-140, (accessed March 28, 2009)

Like his essay in the Spring 1991 edition of The Master’s Seminary Journal, this essay has a target audience of pastors who regularly prepare sermons.  Deuel uses the example set forth by Ezra as the basis for his model of expository preaching.  It is not just Ezra but his example Deuel points to as a model for expositors of all ages.  It is Ezra’s commitment as an expositor that Deuel highlights in this two-part essay.  The first part is THE EXPOSITOR’S COMMITMENT while the second is THE EXPOSITOR’S TASK.
In the first part of his essay, Deuel describes Ezra has having been prepared and commissioned to be the law restorer for the second exodus much like Moses was the law giver of the first exodus.  Ezra was selected by God, in Deuel’s view, because of the commitment to study, practice and teach the law rather than for his administrative skills.  It is this continued focus on the ministry of the Word that earned Ezra such selection rather than his impressive genealogy. 
Ezra was qualified for his mission because of his deep desire to exposit God’s Torah.  We do not have any Biblical record of Ezra’s long hours of study of scripture though it must have begun at an early age.  In addition to constant study, Ezra also lived out the Word daily.  Part of living out the Word was to teach others to do the same.  This is a task that Ezra also had a zeal for.  Deuel argues convincingly that this model, study of the Word, living out the Word, and teaching the Word will prevent many expositional shortcomings.  Deuel also alludes to the fact that the Biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah were once a single volume and should be studied together. 
In the second part of his essay, THE EXPOSITOR’S TASK, Deuel points out the two elements of expository preaching: read the book and exposit the book.  Here the author underlines a problem in many churches to this day which is that many preachers read the scripture as if it is secondary to the sermon that are about to deliver.  Ezra and his assistants worked very hard to make sure the text was understood by the people who had gathered to hear it.  Deuel goes on to argue that Biblical exposition assist the reading process whether the written Word is read individually or corporately as was the case in the Ezra and Nehemiah.  Further, Ezra used citations from the Pentateuch but did not quote the verbatim which Deuel argues is evidence that Ezra reapplied the law to new situations.
We know that Ezra taught large groups but we also see Ezra, much as Jesus did, gathering smaller groups of leaders together and preparing them to assist in the ministry.  The teaching and studying of God’s Word did not stop.  Deuel argues that this is a pattern for us to this day.
It is obvious that Deuel is a strong proponent of expository preaching.  What is also clear is that Deuel is also a strong proponent of being prepared for the ministry and part of that preparation is the study of God’s Word.  Deuel succeeds in making clear that the pattern that men of God should use is one of studying the Word, living the Word, and teaching the Word.  Each builds upon the next and in the reviewer opinion best represented as a circle.
Deuel’s target audience is primarily those called to preach.  As before, his style is academic in nature and the material likely requires more than “Sunday School” knowledge of OT scripture though his choice of language is easily understood by those with an interest in the subject.  Again, as with his earlier work, one must keep in mind that the article was published in a scholarly theological journal whose audience is theologians and students of theology.  It is interesting that this was written at the beginning of the Emerging Church movement which emphasizes a style of preaching that is essentially the opposite of expository.  One can’t help but wonder if that played a role in Deuel’s decision to write such an essay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this very interesting. This can apply to Sunday School teachers also. A knowledge of the complete context of a verse of scripture is essential in order to teach exactly what God wants us to learn from that scripture. The trouble with some preachers and/or teachers is that they take scripture out of context and make it apply to what they want to preach/teach. We need to be careful not to do that.