Highlights In Today's Reading:
The work begins! Check their priorities — the altar is rebuilt and then burnt offerings (3:2-3). The foundation is finished (3:10-13) and enemies slander and complain to Darius the king (5:8).
Zerubbabel and the returning Jews left the luxuries of Persia for the hardships of Jerusalem. What once had been the glorious promised land was now a heap of rubble. Houses needed to be rebuilt and the fields had not been plowed for over half a century. But spiritual needs must come first.
It may have seemed "reasonable," humanly speaking, to first build their own houses. Instead, they chose to build the Altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the Law of Moses (3:2). This act of faith took place about four months after the Israelites had left Babylon. The Feast of Trumpets was celebrated as required (Lev. 23:24; Ezra 3:6), and 14 days later the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34; Ezra 3:4).
This was followed by the difficult task of laying the foundation of the Temple. After the builders laid the foundation (3:10) they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord (3:11). After the foundation of the Temple was laid, the priests, the trumpeters, and the Levites began praising the Lord and giving thanks.
At first the Israelites set aside self-interests until they had restored true worship; but then, as weeks became months the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building. . . . and made them to cease by force and power (4:4,23).
As the people began building their own homes, the construction of the Temple ceased for about 14 years. But, once the Word and authority of God were recognized, the people again began to build the House of God (5:2). Fourteen years before, the hostile crowd made them to cease (4:23). But this time they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah (6:14). Listening to the Word of God by Haggai and Zechariah, they builded, and finished it (the Temple), according to the Commandment of the God of Israel (6:14).
Deciding to "serve the Lord" by no means guarantees a life free from problems. To the contrary! Satan will use his power to convince us that we cannot — at least now — finish the task we have set out to accomplish.
However, the Word of God is the source of strength by which His children cannot by force be defeated. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds (II Cor. 10:4).
Thought for Today:
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. . . . Above all. . . . take . . . the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God: Praying always . . . with all perseverance and supplication (Eph. 6:11,16-18).
Through the great (huge) stones used in building the Temple of God (Ezra 5:8). Jesus Christ is the Stone which the builders refused (rejected) and He has become the Head Stone of the Corner (Cornerstone) of our faith (Ps. 118:22; Matt. 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 of = discouraged and frightened; 5:10 certify = inform.
Pray for English International Shortwave Broadcasts sponsored by Franklin Lancaster and Nancy Golpe • Radio Sri Lanka Broadcasts sponsored by Nancy Golpe • Bible Pathway Media Producer: Rick Hash • Government Official: Rep. Michael Rogers (MI) • Country: Niger (10 million) in west-central Africa • Major languages: French and Hausa • Christian evangelism is limited • 89% Muslim; 10% animist; .4% Christian • Prayer Suggestion: Give thanks for the privilege of assembling with other Christians each week (Heb. 10:25).
Optional Reading: 2 Corinthians 4
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:31