Our hope and prayer is that this week you have known the Lord in the ups and downs that may have come your way. You know, He is our consolation and our celebration. Events that happen in our life mean different things to different people. A child who gets her drivers permit has a different set of emotions than her parents have. “I’m growing up” and “She’s growing up” have very different effects in the heart depending on who is saying those words. Let’s talk about that…
As we continue in Ezra chapter 3, we begin looking from verse 4 and forward. The altar was set up in the previous verses and the burnt-offering sacrifices had begun once again. Those fires had been snuffed out seven decades prior. The ordained feasts of the Israelites were once again consecrated and observed. Things were headed back in the right direction. The work was underway to prepare to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Looking at verses 8 through 9 we can read that the proper priests were in their place. Things were headed back in the right direction. In verse 10 the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord. They sang, played instruments and put on their ‘Sunday best’ and praised the Lord the way David did way back when. Things were headed back in the right direction.
Then something curious happened. In verse 11 and 12 we can see two very opposite reactions to this monumental shift in the history of the Hebrew people. Among the nearly 50,000 strong who freely returned as one man from Babylonian captivity were descendants of original children of the captivity who had never stepped foot in their homeland until now. They had no memory of the Solomon’s original temple in all its grandeur. They had never smelled the smoke of sacrifice nor seen the blood of atonement as it flowed for the covering of their sins. The old songs of David were new to them. Celebration for this new thing in their lives was ecstatic. They broke out in corporate praise and sang, ‘giving thanks unto the Lord: for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever’ (Psalm 136). ‘And all the people shouted with a great shout because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. They were filled to overflowing with JOY!
Verse 12 shows a different, more melancholy emotion from many of the priests, the white haired ancient men, who had seen the first house, began to weep with a loud voice. That verse goes on to say that many shouted aloud for joy. Such a sweeping combination of emotions and expressions. All were very genuine and none were contrived or habitual. No one urged them to stand and clap or raise their hands or do anything from a man-delivered instruction. It was the raw sight of the physical manifestation of what God had done for them. He had delivered them, forgiven them, showed favor to them, and the fruits of their willing decision to seize the opportunity to rebuild the house of God was laying in the form of a foundation before their eyes.
Those ancient men must have had thoughts that I can relate to, such as, I wish we had done everything we could have to prevented this temple from being destroyed in the first place. We could have done things differently and none of these precious loved ones would have never had to live through the captivity. And then, I am so thankful that I lived long enough to see this. This gives us hope for this joyful generation. I can identify, can you?
That inaugural service was not silent and solemn. It was exuberant and emotional with a mix of Joy and Mourning. It was all in order and it was okay either way. It created a noise that could be heard far away. If the modern American liberal version of what is perceived as church headed back in the direction of the truth of scripture, unscripted services, worldly separation, worship urged by the Holy Ghost, and a work that reaches all people in all places, can you imagine with me how far the noise of that would be heard… It makes me mourn for all that this generation has missed but joyful at the possibility that they might be shown the way back again.
God Bless You,