Highlights In Today's Reading:
First things first! The altar is set up so ancient God-directed sacrifice and worship are restored. After another 6 months (3:6-11) the foundation of the Temple is laid!
When Zerubbabel and the returning Jews left the pleasures and prosperity of Persia, they faced the hardships of a long, treacherous journey in order to rebuild a destroyed Jerusalem. They could have assumed that the first thing to do was build their own homes. But instead, they builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon (3:2). And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the House of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests . . . who were ancient men, that had seen the first House . . . wept with a loud voice (3:11-12). Undoubtedly they realized they were reaping the pitiful destructive effect of their sin. The burnt offerings were more than mere religious rituals because these Jews had forsaken everything in Persia in order to restore fellowship with their God in Jerusalem.
Many needs for existence such as food and shelter for their families and animals claimed their attention; but personal necessities were set aside until they had first rebuilt the altar of Jehovah and reestablished worship to the One True God.
When our hearts desire is to be obedient to God and His Word, the Holy Spirit will witness within us to abandon our dependence on self and material things and instead rely on our Savior and Lord. Sacrificial giving, devoted work, and faithful attendance in a local church are outward manifestations of restored fellowship with God.
Deciding to serve the Lord and do His work does not guarantee a life of ease and freedom from problems. To the contrary! Once Satan sees that we have set our hearts on pleasing the Lord, he will use everything and everyone in his power to keep us from the task we have set out to accomplish. His purpose is to divert our attention from reliance on God's Word and prayer. So let us purpose in our hearts to finish the work the Lord has called us to do. No one else can do it for us since each Christian is individually responsible to God for accomplishing what He has ordained for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed. (For after all these thing do the Gentiles seek:) for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek . . . first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:31-33).
Thought for Today:
Too often we put our wants and desires ahead of God's will for our lives. Jesus was our example when He said: I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father (John 5:30).
Through the great (huge) stones used in building the Temple of God (Ezra 5:8). Christ is the Stone which the builders refused (rejected) and He has become the Cornerstone of our faith (Psalm 118:22; Matthew 21:42).
3:3 his bases =/i> its original foundation; 3:8 set forward =/i> oversee; 3:11 by course =/i> by the assigned divisions of priests; 4:4 weakened the hands =/i> discouraged and frightened; 5:10 certify =/i> inform.
Pray for Arabic, English, and Spanish International Shortwave Radio Broadcasts sponsored by Linda Hillman • Staff: Dr. John A. Hash • Government Official: Rep. Michael Rogers (MI) • Country: Senegal (10 million) in western Africa • Major language: French • Religious freedom • 92% Muslim; 4% animism and ancestor worship; 3% Roman Catholic; .1% Protestant • Prayer Suggestion: Pray for more faithful Christian workers (I Thessalonians 1:2-3).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 4
Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Corinthians 1:5