Read Ezra 3 -- 5
After returning to Jerusalem, 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 (Ezra 3:2-4,6,10-11).
It is said that many men who had seen Solomon's Temple 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 destruction. 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, as the Israelites did. But, after repenting and forsaking our sins, He . . . forgives 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. 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 unto the Lord for His mercy and grace. 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 4:4,24).
After a period of about 15 years, God inspired 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 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).
Christ Revealed: 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 (Psa. 118:22; Matt. 21:42).
Word Studies: 3:3 his bases means its original foundation; 3:8 set forward means oversee; 3:11 by course means by the assigned divisions of priests; 4:4 weakened the hands means discouraged and frightened; 5:10 certify means inform.
Government Official: Rep. Michael Rogers (MI) · Pray for Stephen Wike, Media Management/Crosswalk.com, Inc. · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast sponsored by A Family That Loves Jesus · Country: Kyrgyzstan (5 million) eastern central Asia · Major languages: Kirghiz and Russian · Religious freedom · 60% Muslim; 11% Russian Orthodox; .8% Protestant/Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Humble yourself and reverence the Word of God; He will look upon you with affection (Isaiah 66:2).
Optional Reading: II Corinthians 4
Memory Verse for the Week: II Corinthians 6:17