Read Ezra 3 -- 5
In Today's Reading:
Restoration of the altar and worship; rebuilding of the Temple begun; adversaries stop the work; work resumed; Tatnai writes to Darius.
Verses for Today:
(The Jews first built) the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings. . . . fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt 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 . . . Levites. . . . sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord (3:2-4,6,10-11).
Upon seeing the new foundation, men who had seen Solomon's Temple wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy (Ezra 3:12). Perhaps they were weeping over what might have been had they not ignored the prophets' warnings that continued sin would result in destruction. Others rejoiced as they looked forward to the day when the new Temple would be built.
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 we truly repent and forsake our sins, He . . . forgives us our sins (1 John 1:9). We should not continue then to grieve over past losses that blur opportunities for the present and the future. Daily we need to move on with our lives and join in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord for His mercy and grace (Ezra 3:11). The Apostle Paul reminds us: Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). As we meet with others in the Body of Christ to worship the Lord, we express our faith in a loving and caring God.
Another 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 foundation of the Temple, the people of the land . . . troubled them in building. . . . Then ceased the work of the House of God (Ezra 4:4).
After a period of about 15 years, God spoke through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1; Ezra 5:1) to rebuke the Israelites for putting their own interests first and building their own houses before building the House of God. Then Zerubbabel . . . with all the remnant of the people who had returned from captivity, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God (Haggai 1:12). They began to build the House of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God (Haggai and Zechariah), helping them (Ezra 5:2). This points out that the real hindrance to rebuilding the Temple was not their enemies but was their preoccupation with their own personal projects. How easy it is for any of us to put our own interests above the interests of the Lord.
Let us move ahead with confidence, not in ourselves and our own plans, 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, the Stone which the builders rejected, [has become the head Cornerstone] (Psalms 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.
Government Official: Rep. Michael Rogers (MI) · Pray for your Sunday School teacher · Country: Guatemala (12 million) in Central America · Major languages: Spanish and Indian languages · Religious freedom · 93% Roman Catholic; 5% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Seek the Lord when in despair; He is your deliverer (Jonah 2:5-6).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 4
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:15