And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands…
The subject is: That it is a lawful and laudable practice for people, in the conclusion of public prayer or praising God, to pronounce an amen.
I. I WILL EXPLAIN WHAT IS MEANT BY "AMEN."
1. There is an amen substantive. And that is God Himself (Revelation 3:14).
2. There is an amen affirmative — a phrase used in the beginning of any momentous truth, as an asseveration (Matthew 16:28; Luke 9:27).
3. There is an optative amen — "Let it be so" (Jeremiah 28:6; 1 Kings 1:36; Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15-26).
II. SHOW WHAT WARRANT THERE IS FOR THE PRACTICE.
1. Assent to repetitions is essential unto prayer, and it is not signified publicly but by our amen.
2. We have the practice of the Old and New Testament believers for our example. Moses in Numbers and Deuteronomy; David (Psalm 51:18, 106:48); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 11:5); Paul (1 Corinthians 14:16; Ephesians 3:21); Christ Himself (Matthew 6:9-18; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 7:11, 12; Revelation 19:1-6; Revelation 22:20).
3. Amen after prayer and praise is the man's consent, judgment, and approbation of what is offered unto God.
4. This vocal amen is, as it were, the epitome and sum of all our petitions and praises to God. It is the centre which all those lines are drawn towards. It is all the duty virtually reduced to one word and point. It is the repeating and echoing, or redoubling of all over again. As the mercury behind the glass, it reverberates the lively image of all preceding devotion, it is the drawing the arrow to the pile by a strong ejaculation in Bellarmine's phrase, "Whereby the whole heart is darted up to God." It is a "stirring up of ourselves to take hold of God" (Isaiah 64:7). It is taking aim, and "directing our prayer to Him and looking up" (Psalm 5:3), as if they would hand up God's praises to Him, and stand ready to receive His mercies with open hands and mouths. It winds up all together in one bundle.
5. Amen, rightly pronounced, is an intensive act of faith, or it involves a strong faith.
(1) That God is firm and immutably true in Himself and His Word.
(2) That we will not only believe His truth, but trust to His veracity and build upon it (Jeremiah 11:5). The Jews say "amen" hath three kernels; the one is of an oath, the second of faith, the third of confidence.
6. The unanimous pronunciation of amen is an assurance that God will accept our praises and answer our prayers (Matthew 18:19; Mark 11:23).
7. This unanimous amen of faith strikes terror in the enemies of the Church, whether devils or men. When the Romans had conquered Philip and the Grecians, and Flaminius caused peace to be proclaimed to the Grecians, "there was such a shout," says Plutarch, "that the very crows and other birds fell down to the ground." Our amens must not drop like a cold bullet of lead out of the mouth of a musket, bowing to the ground; but they must be fired by preparations of the heart and warm affections, they must be discharged and shot off with the utmost vehemency of the soul and fervency of the spirit. When God's people can unite in one voice, God gives His voice with them and for them.
(Thomas Woodcock A. M.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.