Read Ezra 3 -- 5
In Today's Reading:
Restoration of the altar and worship; rebuilding Temple begun; adversaries stop work; work resumes; Tatnai writes to Darius
After returning to Jerusalem, the Jews first built the Altar of God and offered burnt offerings according to the Law of God. Even though the Israelites experienced hostility from the Samaritans because they worshiped God, they offered burnt offering sacrifices morning and evening. They also kept the Festival of Booths (Tabernacle). This was before they began the foundation of the Temple. When the builders completed the foundation, the priests and the Levites sang together and gave thanks to the Lord (Ezra 3:2-4,6,10-11). After the foundation had been rebuilt, many of the older men who had seen the former glory of Solomon's Temple wept, but others shouted 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 destruction. Others rejoiced as they looked forward to the day when they could worship in the rebuilt Temple.
It is right for us to sorrow over our past sins just as the Israelites did. But, we can truly thank the Lord that, after repenting and forsaking our sins, He will forgive us of all our sins without exception as He has promised (I John 1:9). We should not continue to grieve over past losses that blur opportunities for the present and the future. Rebuilding is something all of us need to do through different periods of our life. Some are in the process of rebuilding integrity in their lives; some are rebuilding their plans for the future after the death of a loved one; and others are rebuilding after a divorce. Rebuilding takes work but the good news is that all things are possible as we trust the Lord. We need to move on with our lives and join in praising the Lord for His presence (Ezra 3:11; Matthew 28:20), His mercy, and for His grace. Dwelling on past failures or what might have been if some loved one hadn't been taken from us is counterproductive; rather we need to keep our thoughts on the fact that the Lord is with us and lovingly desires to meet our needs regardless of the circumstances (Philippians 3:13-14).
Another lesson we gain from these devout Jews is that, as we seek to serve the Lord, we will face days of discouragement and opposition. During the rebuilding of the Temple's foundation, the enemies of God discouraged the Israelites and, for a time, rebuilding the Temple of God in Jerusalem ceased (Ezra 4:4,24).
In a similar way, Satan seeks to discourage all of us from fulfilling the will of God. But, let us move ahead with confidence, not in ourselves, but in God and His unlimited and never-failing strength (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.
Pray for the Bible Pathway Internet Outreach and the Bible Pathway devotions in Arabic, English, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish that are now online at our website. Let friends and missionaries overseas know that the devotional commentary is now available in these languages · The International Shortwave Radio Broadcast in honor of those who fought for Iraq's freedom · BPM Staff: Dr. John A. Hash · Government Official: Rep. Michael Rogers (MI) · Country: Djibouti (447,000) in eastern Africa · Major languages: French and Arabic · Limited religious freedom · 91% Muslim; 7% Roman Catholic; .75% Eastern Orthodox; about 300 Protestants · Prayer Suggestion: Forgive others without exception, and then ask the Lord to forgive you (Matthew 6:12).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 4
Memory Verse for the Week: II Timothy 2:15