Saturday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Ezra 3:1-13 (NKJV)
1 And when the seventh month had come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then Jeshua the son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brethren, arose and 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. 3 Though fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries, they set the altar on its bases; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening burnt offerings. 4 They also kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings in the number required by ordinance for each day. 5 Afterwards they offered the regular burnt offering, and those for New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and those of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to the LORD. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, although the foundation of the temple of the LORD had not been laid. 7 They also gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre to bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the permission which they had from Cyrus king of Persia.
8 Now in the second month of the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, began work and appointed the Levites from twenty years old and above to oversee the work of the house of the LORD. 9 Then Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah, arose as one to oversee those working on the house of God: the sons of Henadad with their sons and their brethren the Levites.
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. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD:
“For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”
Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
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.
“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…” (Ezra 3:12).
It’s a strange description, but one we may easily imagine. The foundations of a new temple have been laid. The young rejoice in what is being accomplished. The elderly mourn at the same time, saddened that “it’s not going to be as good as the old temple.”
Just as yesterday’s devotion cautioned us not to be harsh on those who aren’t inspired to do the same things we do, so this text should encourage us not to resent those who don’t feel the same way we do. The faithful young ones rejoice in the progress being made in the Lord’s work. Yet the faithful elderly mourn, wanting to honor the Lord with “as good or better” than the old temple, disappointed that the new one will not be so.
It matters that the Lord’s work go forward. It matters that we confess His faithfulness, not with mediocrity, but with our very best. This is our day. God grant us faithful hearts, rejoicing to play our part in moving the work of the Lord forward to the very best of our ability, that many others would be made heirs of salvation with us through faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We pray: “Heavenly Father, as I behold the darkening days of this world, grant me Your Spirit, that I may faithfully labor to spread Your Word and advance Your Kingdom; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.”