June 2, 2004
Read Ezra 3 - 5
In Today's Reading:
Restoration of the altar and worship; rebuilding Temple begun; adversaries stop work, it resumes; Tatnai writes to Darius
After returning to Jerusalem, the Jews first built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burned offerings. . . . for fear was upon them (they were terrified) because of the people of those countries: and they offered burned offerings . . . morning and evening. They kept also the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written. . . . But the foundation of the Temple of the LORD was not yet laid. . . . When the builders laid the foundation of the Temple of the LORD . . . the priests . . . and the Levites. . . . sang . . . praising and giving thanks to the LORD (Ezra 3:2-4,6,10-11).
It is recorded that many men, when the foundation of this House was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy (3:12). Perhaps they were weeping over what might have been had they not ignored the prophet's warning that continued sin would result in their destruction. Perhaps others rejoiced as they looked forward to the day when the Temple would be rebuilt.
It is right for us to sorrow over our past sins which have brought the judgment of God upon us, just as the Israelites did. But, after repenting and forsaking our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (I John 1:9). We should not continue to grieve over past losses that blur opportunities for the present and the future, but thank Him for His mercy and grace. Nor should we glory in our past achievements and successes. Daily we need to move on with our lives and join in praising and giving thanks to the LORD (Ezra 3:11). The Apostle Paul reminds us: Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark (goal) for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
A lesson we gain from these devout Jews is that, as we seek to serve the Lord, we will face opposition. During the rebuilding of the Temple's foundation the people of the land . . . troubled them in building. . . . Then ceased the work of the House of God which is at Jerusalem (Ezra 4:4,24).
Let us look ahead with confidence, not in ourselves, but in God and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).
Through the great (huge) stones used in building the Temple of God (Ezra 5:8). Christ is the Stone which the builders rejected and He has become the Cornerstone of our faith
(Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42).
3:3 his bases = its original foundation; 3:8 set forward = oversee; 3:11 by course = by the assigned divisions of priests; 4:4 weakened the hands = discouraged and frightened; 5:10 certify = inform.
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: Pray for (not against) your enemies (Luke 6:28).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 4
Memory Verse for the Week: John 11:25