Ezra 7:10 – Overview of Sermon Preparation Process

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For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. – Ezra 7:10 (KJV)


We will overview the sermon preparation process, looking at Ezra 7:10.

1. Before doing anything else, we need to read and re-read the text and…

2. pray over the text.

3. Write down some observations on the text itself. Aim for 30.

4. Read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.  Ezra is the book the text is found in.  Ezra and Nehemiah were not two, but one book in the Jewish arrangement of this portion of the Bible.  This will give you a head start on the historical and literary context of Ezra 7:10.  Note any connections to the content of Ezra 7:10.

Now we are ready to look at the basic study process and sermon preparation based on this text.

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HERMENEUTICS (STUDYING THE TEXT)

This process lays the groundwork for the sermon.  Using Daniel Doriani’s method from Getting the Message (which we use as a text book in CAPS classes), we will look at hints for studying Ezra 7:10 in light of its:

C – Context – literary and historical.  What can we learn from the words, sentences, paragraphs, books, etc. around the text and is there anything from history (in or outside Scripture) that sheds light on the meaning and significance of the text?

A – Analysis – How is the passage put together?  What are some important grammatical and content markers?  Can you outline or structure the text visually to show how it functions?

P – Problems – Do you see any difficulties in understanding or communicating the text?  Has the text been misused to teach false doctrine?  Are there translation issues?  Could someone easily misunderstand this text?  Are there wrong assumptions to guard against in interpreting and applying this text?  Are there unfamiliar concepts or words?  Are people overly familiar with this text yet missing its full teaching?

T – Themes – What are the main themes addressed in the passage?  Can you relate them to other key passages in the Bible?  How does this passage specifically and (uniquely?) advance these themes in comparison to the other passages?  What are relevant cross-references?  Are there word studies that help you understand the themes of this passage (that also do justice to the interpretation of the text in context)?

O – Obligations – What does the text require people to believe, do, or avoid?  Does the application look significantly different for us versus what was required for the original audience?  What is the principle to be obeyed and how can it be obeyed today?

R – Reflections (Main Point & Redemptive Thrust) – What is the main point of this text?  How can you boil it down to a single sentence proposition that tells us the primary theme/topic (what the text is talking about) and the thrust (what the text is saying about what it is talking about) – and join the main application with the main theme?  How does the text point to our need of Christ or what Christ has done?

(CAPTOR – acronym helps you remember these phases of study for hermeneutics)

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HOMILETICS (PREACHING THE TEXT)

The task now is to take the most important insights from our study of the text and communicate them in a sermon.

  • Take the main point of the text and rephrase it for the sermon – draw the congregation in by making the application clear in the main point of the sermon (we must…/you must…).
  • Craft the homiletical outline and transitional statements, especially between your sermon points.
  • Make sure you have prepared to adequately explain the text and include appropriate illustrations.
  • Craft your introduction and sermon conclusion.  (Frontload application in introduction, bring home in conclusion.  Rule of thumb: land where you took off.)

HERMENEUTICS:  For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. – Ezra 7:10 (KJV)

  • CONTEXT OF EZRA 7:10 – Literary: Books of Ezra/Nehemiah, especially Ezra 7:9 & 8:22.  Historical:  Post-Babylonian captivity, return to the land, Ezra a scribe/priest.
  • ANALYSIS OF EZRA 7:10 – Ezra had prepared his heart to do three things, all related to “the law of the LORD”:  seek, do, and teach.  “For” indicates this is a reason for something else (context indicates “the good hand of God” – 7:9).

For Ezra had prepared his heart

  1. I. To seek the law of the LORD
  2. II. and to do it
  3. III. and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.
  • PROBLEMS IN RELATION TO EZRA 7:10 – What is “the law of the LORD”?  “Statutes and judgments”?  The relation of “the law of the LORD” to our concept of Bible & Gospel?  What do we make of the handling of the mixed marriage situation in Ezra-Nehemiah?

  • THEMES IN EZRA 7:10 – God’s Word (Josh 1:8; Ps 1, etc.); obedience/blessing; teaching/preaching (Matt 28:18-20)

  • OBLIGATIONS IN EZRA 7:10 – God’s hand can be on leaders and all other people (8:22) if we devote ourselves to God’s Word (God’s Law… now “all Scripture” 2 Tim 3:16-17) by study, obedience, and teaching.  Devote ourselves to these things – make God’s Word priority #1; Devotion – active – does not happen by accident – not passive, but proactive!  “Bible before breakfast” – say no; schedule; alarm clock, etc.; quiet place; streamline reinforcement (audio Bible on drive, etc.).

This order is important:  to teach we need to be models of obedience, to obey we need to know what Word teaches, etc. and must have a devotion to God to do all of these!

Study – set aside time & routine; read, meditate, ask questions of Bible; learn how to use study tools properly; Obedience – do what we understand God’s Word to require, even if inconvenient or hard; Teach – share with others what God’s Word teaches (evangelism, family worship, parenting, Sunday School, preaching, etc., etc.)

  • REFLECTING ON THE MAIN POINT & REDEMPTIVE THRUST OF EZRA 7:10

Main Point – Ezra experienced the blessing of God because he was devoted to the Word of God; Redemptive Thrust – our fallen condition of ignoring or misusing the Word/fear of sharing it & Christ’s (the incarnate Word) perfect example of knowing, doing, and teaching God’s Word – God’s Word points to Him and brings us to faith.  Do these things on the basis of the Gospel — Romans 12:1-2  (this devotion to God’s Word is not moralistic but a response to the great salvation He has accomplished for us).

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HOMILETICS: For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. – Ezra 7:10 (KJV)

  • MAIN POINT – God’s blessing rests on those who devote themselves to His Word (study, obey, teach).  à  In order to enjoy the blessing of God on our lives, we must devote ourselves to the Word of God.
  • HOMILETICAL OUTLINE & TRANSITIONS –

To enjoy God’s blessing, we must devote ourselves to

1. Study God’s Word (DILIGENTLY SEEK OUT ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR LIVING)

TRANSITION:  “To enjoy God’s blessing, we not only need to devote ourselves to studying God’s Word, but also to obeying God’s Word.  We need to obey God’s Word to enjoy His blessing.  Notice that the text said that Ezra ‘prepared his heart…to do it,’ that is, to practice, obey, or perform what he saw in his study of God’s law….”

2. Obey God’s Word (DO WHAT IT REQUIRES)

TRANSITION:  “We need to obey God’s Word.  But devotion to God’s Word does not stop with study and obedience.  We also need to teach God’s Word.  Notice that the Bible says Ezra ‘prepared his heart…to teach.’”

3Share God’s Word (TELL OTHERS WHAT IT REQUIRES)

  • ILLUSTRATIONS – Biblical illustrations (obedience to God’s Word in Ezra-Nehemiah – handling the intermarriage situations, festivals; teaching – Neh. 8); illustrations from word studies; how you know what someone is devoted to or if someone is devoted to something (their tools/equipment; their schedule; their activities; their performance; their conversation); what/who a preacher is devoted to (who he quotes, models his ministry after, listens to etc. etc.); qualities of a good teacher; qualities of a bad teacher (illustrating by contrast)
  • INTRODUCTION – get attention, raise need, hint at application, orient to text, give context;

Text is about qualities of a person blessed by God & their devotion to His Word – about a teacher who is favored.  An introduction might talk about how you know if someone is devoted to something (see in illustrations above).  Another approach might be to talk about the opposite of Ezra – qualities of a bad teacher (we can all think of real life examples).  This illustration would also function throughout the sermon as a foil to compare what we should be against the alternative.

Introduce text, theme, context — People were coming back from Babylon, where they had landed because they refused to devote themselves to know and obey God’s Word – were now returning – how to enjoy God’s blessing?

Ezra’s example:  Ezra a leader – but this applies to all of God’s people (8:22).

Introduce proposition before transitioning to body:  If we want God’s hand of blessing, we must devote ourselves to His Word.

  • CONCLUSION – Land where you took off. For example, recap qualities of a bad teacher and qualities of a good teacher, the things we must be devoted to according to Ezra 7:10.

Growth in godliness and usefulness in ministry (as leaders or church members) are evidence that God’s blessing is upon our lives.  This blessing comes via our devotion to seek out, obey, and teach God’s Word.  Does your life give evidence of God’s blessing?  Devote yourself to these things.  You will please God.  You will enjoy God.  You will point others to God.  In other words, if you commit yourself to these, you will enjoy His blessing.

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After you do your Bible study and steps to prepare your sermon, finish up by completing the outline or manuscript you will take to the pulpit or use from memory.  Put the intro and conclusions in their place and flesh out the outline with the illustrations and other material you wish to include, including integrating the redemptive thrust so that your sermon is preached in the context of the Gospel.  Pray over it and preach the Word!

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About dougsmith1977

Disciple of the Lord Jesus, husband, dad, student, teacher, preacher, media producer, blogger, writer. Author of Keeping the Faith in a Christian College. I tweet @dougsmith1977 .
This entry was posted in expository examples, hermeneutics, homiletics, practical helps, preaching, resources, spiritual disciplines and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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