The Berean Expositor
Volume 31 - Page 32 of 181
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The Opened Understanding: "To Perceive."
pp. 183, 184
We have seen that the opened ear, and the opened Book constitute an important part of
the equipment of the believer for service, but we have not yet given attention to all that
needs to be "opened", if that equipment is to be complete. There is the added need of an
"opened understanding".
"And Ezra opened the book . . . . . and caused them to understand the reading"
(Neh. 8: 5-8).
The physical opening of the Book was followed by its "opening" in a fuller sense, and
it will help us if we observe what Ezra and the assembled company did upon the great
occasion recorded in Neh. 8:
"When he opened it, all the people stood up" (Neh. 8: 5).
To rise when the Book was opened was an act of reverence. On another occasion
even Eglon, king of Moab, though his heart may have been far from God, "arose out of
his seat" when Ehud announced, "I have a message of God unto thee" (Judges 3: 20).
"And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, Amen,
Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord,
with their faces to the ground" (Neh. 8: 6).
The opening of the Book was the signal for the worship of its Author. We reverence
the Word of God, because we reverence the God of the Word.
"So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly" (Neh. 8: 8).
If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, said the Apostle Paul, who shall prepare
himself for battle? Writing later to his son Timothy the Apostle said, "Till I come, give
attendance to reading" (I Tim. 4: 13). To the Ethiopian eunuch Philip said, "Understands
thou what thou readest?" (Acts 8: 30).
In the R.V. margin the word "distinctly" in Neh. 8: 8 is translated "with an
interpretation". The word thus translated is parash and means to unfold, spread out or
extend, and has the same meaning as our word "exposition". A person who merely
recognizes the different letters of a word does not "understand". A person who is able
merely to spell out the Hebrew letters P, A, R, A, S, H, does not "understand".
Understanding has to do with meaning, and unless we arrive at the meaning of a passage
or word of Scripture, it will remain a dead letter to us. It is therefore a distinct ministry to
"spread out" the meaning of God's Word. It may take the form of analysis or it may take
the form adopted by Philip when he "preached Jesus", but, in every case, to understand