for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded 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 families, old people who had seen the first house on its foundations, wept with a loud voice when they saw this house, 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 so loudly that the sound was heard far away.” – Ezra 3:10-13
This Week’s Scripture References: Ezra 1-6; Haggai 1-2; Zechariah 1, 8
Seventy years spent in exile. Seventy years away from home. Everything is destroyed.
The return home is a call for rebuilding.
When have you experienced a season for rebuilding in your life?
“Then the heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites—everyone whose spirit God had stirred up—got ready to go up and build God’s house in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:5
For what purpose might God be stirring your heart?
As the foundation of the temple was laid, the people responded. Some cried and some cheered. Elders wept as they looked back remembering the glory of the past. Some cheered with joy at the thought of what the future might bring. Why were some people excited and praising and others weeping and sad? What can we learn about God’s people from this observation?
This combination of joy and sorrow is reflective of the call to community! God fashions a faithful people within these passages. It’s not about judgement. As a community of faith we are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep! We may be diverse in the ways we respond, but we are called to remember that we are held together by the love of God. We are called to make some noise! We are called to make some noise and testify that by Christ we are held together.
How is God calling you to make some noise?
Fifteen years later, the temple is not complete. God sends Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people as they complete the building of the temple. Haggai speaks a word of hope and good news to the discouraged people:
“Work, for I am with you, says the Lord of heavenly forces…Don’t fear. This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: In just a little while, I will make the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land quake. I will make all the nations quake. The wealth of all the nations will come. I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of heavenly forces. The silver and the gold belong to me, says the Lord of heavenly forces. This house will be more glorious than its predecessor, says the Lord of heavenly forces. I will provide prosperity in this place, says the Lord of heavenly forces.” – Haggai 2: 4, 6-9
The treasure of all nations will come into this rebuilt temple. This is our hope, too. Jesus, our Savior, the foundation of faith empowers us all to lift up our voices, our diverse and different voices, in unity. We are a diverse people, united by the love of God and the hope of Christ. This is the good news!
The Lord is good! His steadfast love endures forever!
To listen to this week’s sermon, The Return Home, Sermon 2/4 in “U-Turn” The Story Mini-Series, click here!
For Family Devotions related to this week’s message, click here!
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