Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Deuteronomy 31:9-13 and Public Scripture Reading

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm

“And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it” (Deut 31.9-13).

It cannot be sufficiently appreciated that God saves and sanctifies His people for communion with Him, and equips us for His service, too, by means of verbal messages–subjects and predicates, nouns, verbs, adjectives–all linguistic. In fact, the very communion we enjoy with God is mediated through language, through the Word. When God intends to save a people, to purify them from their sins, and to make them His servants, He speaks to them and keeps speaking to them. Jesus prayed to God the Father for all true Christians in these words, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17.17). And our communion with God and service in His name takes shape largely in our speaking to Him and for Him.

As God’s spokesman, Moses announces a holy ordinance of periodic, public Scripture reading. The matter is the law of God that came through Moses. The spirit required is solemnity. The location is the holy ground of God’s special presence. The required audience is all the holy people, from the youngest to the oldest. The point of these readings is spiritual, that all may learn to fear the Lord and observe to do all His commandments. This is worship and discipleship. The happy consequence of each generation attending to this holy duty is that the next generation will have the opportunity to enjoy the same spiritual discipline and blessings.

It is becoming increasingly more popular in many Christian churches, if we may still charitably call them that, to denigrate the public ministry of the Word, and to displace it with all kinds of other things that are deemed “more effective” for “reaching people,” things like movies, skits, and musical performances. To give serious attention to Scripture readings from representative portions of the Bible, as we do, with brief expositions, is becoming more and more rare, even though historically this has been standard fare among God’s people since ancient times. You can see from this reading that we are on firm biblical ground to do so. Paul urged church leader Timothy that he should “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine”—here all are referring to public ministries in the church gathering (1 Tim 4.13). Public Scripture reading is an element of worship that carries over from the Old Testament into the New. Let us never abandon it, no matter what winds of doctrine blow through the church.

–D. Scott Meadows, Pastor
Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
Exeter, New Hampshire
  1. […] Deuteronomy 31:9-13 and Public Scripture Reading « Reformed Baptist Fellowship […]

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