It’s one of those moments we wish we could have seen firsthand. It took place in the square before the Water Gate. At daybreak, Ezra brought out the law. He unrolled the scroll and began reading. He kept on until noon, and all the while the great crowd gave their rapt attention. The law was read, interpreted, and studied. Nehemiah 8, which records this event, also tells us that this Bible study session resulted in worship. The people were humbled, and their faces looked to the ground. They bowed before God as He revealed Himself in His holy Word.
This event from the Old Testament is a precedent-setting moment. God’s people gather, they hear God’s Word read, they hear God’s Word interpreted and taught, and they worship. This is how it’s supposed to be. As the decades pass and generations come and go, however, God’s Word sadly recedes from the center of His people’s lives and from prominence in His congregation. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a famine of the Word of God. As we look through the pages of the Bible and through church history, we find such times of famine. One of the severest of these times of famine came on the eve of the Reformation.
Martin Luther originally launched his protest against the church over the issue of indulgences. He wanted a debate. While he was involved in various disputations in the wake of posting the Ninety-Five Theses, he finally got a real and true debate at Leipzig. Over the summer months, Luther squared off with Johann Eck, Rome’s premier theologian. Over the course of the debate, Luther declared the Reformation plank of sola Scriptura, the firm and unwavering commitment to the absolute authority of Scripture. Luther’s writings and the reports of these debates convinced Pope Leo X that this German monk was a heretic. The date and the time was set for the ultimate showdown: April 17–18, 1521, at the Imperial Diet, or meeting, at Worms. Read More