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2014.Sep.
18 Thu
 
Restoring Worship
[ Ezra 3:1 - 3:13 ]
 
1. When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man in Jerusalem.
2. Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.
3. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.
4. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.
5. After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of the LORD, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the LORD.
6. On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, though the foundation of the LORD'S temple had not yet been laid.
7. Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia.
8. In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak and the rest of their brothers (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work, appointing Levites twenty years of age and older to supervise the building of the house of the LORD.
9. Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers--all Levites--joined together in supervising those working on the house of God.
10. When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel.
11. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: "He is good; his love to Israel endures forever." And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
12. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
13. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
 

Reflection
Resetting the Altar (3:1–6)
After their arrival, the people settle down and begin rebuilding the altar for worship. But the land is not empty. The Assyrians and the Babylonians had brought in deportees from other nations to occupy the land when they carried the Israelites into captivity. As the returned exiles are resetting the altar, they are legitimately afraid for their safety. The Israelites have been away for seventy years, and other people have taken their land. It is a dangerous and potentially volatile situation that will later result in opposition to the temple project. But for now, the Israelites boldly take the first step. The altar is reset on its old foundations and, for the first time in seventy years, worship takes place.

A Mixed Review (3:7–13)
The returning exiles brought with them goods and items to trade so that they could secure the best tradesmen and materials for the temple. It is a testament to their desire to see the temple of God built with quality and care. By verse 8, more than two years have passed since their arrival, and they begin laying the foundation of the temple. In time, the foundation is completed. However, Ezra records an interesting observation in verses 12–13. As the younger generation shouts for joy at the completion of the foundation, the older generation, who had seen Solomons temple, weeps. They know that this temple does not compare to the grandeur and glory of the former temple. It is a bittersweet moment, a result of their disobedience to God.

Application
- Wherever the people of God are, worship must also exist. We are worshipers, and we are called to bring others into a worshiping relationship with Christ. This is missions and evangelism.

- God often gives us second chances, but there will still be consequences to our initial disobedience. May the Spirit give you wisdom to discern Gods will and courage to obey the first time around.


A Letter to
God
Father, we confess that we are not always quick to obey. Please teach us to follow You without hesitation. May our hearts and souls be transformed in Your presence. Bless us and call us into discipleship and obedience so that we might bring glory to You. In Jesus name. Amen.
 
 
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