14 day plan

New Beginnings

Day 8 of 14

Ezra 3:12

12But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully.

Reflections: Just as promised, after 70 years’ exile, God brings his people home. He moves the hearts of pagan kings to rebuild his temple, city and kingdom. But this beginning is bittersweet. The temple foundations may be laid but it’s a pale imitation of its former glory (Hag 2:3). And sure, God’s people are back in his land but they’re still ruled by a Persian king. Where is the Davidic king that God had promised? Where is the new covenant Jeremiah had declared? This may be the first step in fulfilling Jeremiah 29:11 but there’s still a long road ahead. That mix of weeping and joy marks our Christian life: weeping at our sin and joy at our salvation in Jesus. In that bittersweet reality, we wait for the day when God will wipe away every tear (Rev 21:4).

Question: In what ways is your life a mix of weeping at sin and joy in salvation? How do you persevere as you await the comfort and return of Christ?

Prayer: Loving Father, we are conscious of our rebellion and our sin is always before us. Create in us clean hearts and renew steadfast spirits within us. As we live with the constant presence of indwelling sin, restore the joy of your salvation through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ezra 3:1-13

Sacrifice Restored

1When the seventh month arrived, and the Israelites were in their towns, the people gathered as one in Jerusalem. 2Jeshua son of Jozadak and his brothers the priests along with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brothers began to build the altar of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the law of Moses, the man of God. 3They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples. 4They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day, based on the number specified by ordinance for each festival day. 5After that, they offered the regular burnt offering and the offerings for the beginning of each month and for all the Lord’s appointed holy occasions, as well as the freewill offerings brought to the Lord.

6On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, even though the foundation of the Lord’s temple had not yet been laid. 7They gave money to the stonecutters and artisans, and gave food, drink, and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so they would bring cedar wood from Lebanon to Joppa by sea, according to the authorization given them by King Cyrus of Persia.

Rebuilding the Temple

8In the second month of the second year after they arrived at God’s house in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Jeshua son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers, including the priests, the Levites, and all who had returned to Jerusalem from the captivity, began to build. They appointed the Levites who were twenty years old or more to supervise the work on the Lord’s house. 9Jeshua with his sons and brothers, Kadmiel with his sons, and the sons of Judah and of Henadad, with their sons and brothers, the Levites, joined together to supervise those working on the house of God.

Temple Foundation Completed

10When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets, and the Levites descended from Asaph, holding cymbals, took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. 11They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: “For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.” Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid.

12But many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple, but many others shouted joyfully. 13The people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shouting from that of the weeping, because the people were shouting so loudly. And the sound was heard far away.