Growing up there was a term used for the large piece of furniture, usually the most beautiful piece in the entire church collection, centrally located on the platform of our smaller Baptist churches: some called it the pulpit, sure…but others called it, “The sacred desk.” I saw in the faces of those preachers a desire to do nothing, say nothing or act in any way that would dishonor the use of the “sacred desk.” I have come today to defend the presence of the “sacred desk” as the most beautiful piece of furniture, as well as the most important fixture, in our churches today.
As a matter of fact, the pulpit is biblical. Consider the following Old Testament account given in Ezra:
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose…And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 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 8:1-6).
In our generation we have seen a denigration and deemphasization on the church pulpit. Many churches have elected to go without the authoritative desk and have chosen a lectern or piece of plexiglass or glass. Call it old-fashioned, but I like the pulpit of wood! I vote for the “sacred desk.” I was saved when listening to a preacher behind a “sacred desk.” I answered the call to preach after a man of God mounted the “sacred desk.” I was ordained into the gospel ministry by a man preaching behind a “sacred desk.” Simply put, my vote is for the “sacred desk.”
What then should we find behind the sacred desk?
1. A man of God. We ought to find a God-called preacher with a burning passion in his heart to reveal biblical truths to mankind. Regardless of his “style” or “delivery,” he ought to be a man of conviction and compassion. Pity the pulpit and the pew that sits through the ministry of a man who meets not this high, holy qualification.
2. The Word of God. The sacred desk ought to have a well-worn place upon which the Word of God has found a resting place. Behind the “sacred desk” you ought to find a well-marked Bible that has marked the lives of those preaching it. When Ezra mounted the pulpit he took the Word of God in hand and read it to the people. The “sacred desk” is for the Word of God! Behind this desk, the Word is expounded, exalted and exegeted. Leave all the joking (though a merry heart doeth good like a medicine; I say “all” not “some”) for the comedy barn and all the story telling for the front porch. When the man of God mounts the pulpit of wood, he is there for preaching. That is his business.
3. The power of God. When the man of God takes the word of God and fills the pulpit, may the “sacred desk” become a fiery instrument in the use of the Master’s hands, for God hath chosen the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. The power of God, the unction of the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of God’s Spirit, ought to overwhelm and over-take the efforts of the man of God. The people of God ought to know that the message of the pastor is being endued with Heavenly power. God deliver us from powerless preaching! Paul said, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Every day of the week the church member should pray, “Lord, fill my preacher with power! Give him the message to preach and the power to deliver it!
4. Let me quickly say that the “sacred desk” is not a place for frivolity and lightness. As a young boy I remember hearing that the platform was a special place, and especially the space behind the pulpit. That is hallowed ground! Frivolity, fits of the flesh, and the like should not go on behind the “sacred desk.” That is the place where God paints masterpieces; therefore, we dare not “doodle” there. It ought to say something to the soloist, the leader in worship, the occasional testifier behind the pulpit: you at that moment are standing on hallowed ground. Is your heart right with God? Is there nonchalant-ness in your service? Let’s consider our ways.
Because of feelings like these, some may brand me “old-fashioned.” Well, if that be the charge, I’m “guilty.” I simply know that from Ezra’s day to the present, God has done His work through men of God who had the word of God and preached with the power of God…behind the “sacred desk.” God by His grace has given me a “sacred desk” and may I relish each time to stand behind it and say, “Thus saith the LORD!”