The People Rebuild The Temple

I read about a bride who sought advise on how to deal with her nerves as she processed to the altar at the start of her wedding. The pastor suggested that she remember to keep her eyes first on the isle. Then, upon turning the corner, to focus on the altar. And. finally, as she d … More

Altar

By the time the events of Chapter 3 took place obviously some time had elapsed, though it is not known exactly how long. But here it is told that the altar was set up and being used (vv. 1-3). In building the altar they did not follow any recent altar styles they may have observed, but they went back to the specifications given in the Mosaic law (Ex. 27:1-8).

No sooner was the altar completed than it was set up and sacrifices offered upon it. The principal reason for their hurry in getting the sacrificial ritual started is said to have been “fear of the people of those countries (v. 3). In the early days of their return, the Jews were having trouble with their Gentile neighbors who resented their coming. This made the Hebrews realize their need of divine help and protection and of getting right with God.

The next thing recorded is the Feast of Tabernacles and the first preparations for the construction of the temple which was soon underway (vv. 4-7). Among the people involved were some who had learned the trades of masonry and carpentry in Babylon. Many materials for Solomon’s original temple had been supplied by Hiram, the king of Tyre (II Chron. 2). Now the arrangements were made with the inhabitants of that same region to provide some of their famous cedar trees for the structure. At the time of the actual laying of the foundation for the new temple, a special celebration was held (vv. 8-13). Many of the leaders present were “ancient men” (v. 12) and had vivid recollections of the original temple. While the younger people shouted for joy over the commencement of the new temple, many of the older people wept.

Application

There is room both for weeping and shouting in the Lord’s work. I need to be excited about the ministry of others and show sympathy for those who sorrow.

Ezra 3:1-13 (English Standard Version)

When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the LORD, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the LORD. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid. So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia. Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the LORD. And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel." 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 and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

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