One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, August 6, 2013: Ezra 3:1-4:23
10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. .... 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses,
old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the
foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted
aloud for joy, 13 so
that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from
the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a
loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off. Ezra 3:10, 12-13 (NKJV)
After 50 years of exile, a small, fledgling group of Jewish priest and Levites gathered back in Jerusalem to undertake a seemingly impossible task. Inexplicably, an imperial edict was issued by the pagan Persian King Cyrus that the Jewish temple should be rebuilt. The first temple had been built by Solomon but was torn down completely by the Babylonian invaders. Now, after years of judgment, it was time to rebuild.
God is in the business of REBUILDING BROKEN THINGS. Jesus takes the broken pieces, puts them back together, and makes something beautiful. The story of Solomon's Temple is somewhat like the story of all mankind. We started out in a BEAUTIFUL GARDEN called the Garden of Eden. But, because of man's sin and failure, judgment fell. That beautiful place was destroyed. Then, by the redemptive work of Jesus, we who are so polluted by sin have become "A NEW CREATION; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (II Co. 5:17)
Solomon's Temple was opulent. Some estimate that, by today's monetary value, it cost 1 to 2 BILLION dollars to build! When it was torn down, the dreams of God's people were shattered. Years of slavery ensued as old men reminisced about the glory that once had been. Then, by a miracle, God began the process of restoration. Out of shattered dreams came new possibilities.
Ezra 3 describes strong emotions. There was weeping and wailing on the one hand while also shouts of joy and laughter on the other. This is a picture of redemption. We weep for joy and we cry over past pain. We exult over the new day and laugh for sheer thankfulness. Particularly, for the old men who had long ago seen the glory of the first Temple, the pent up emotions from years of discouragement erupted out of their hearts. It is a beautiful picture.
God takes broken things and makes them into places of worship. It is the story of the Temple. It is the story of you and me.