Tuesday 16 June 2015

Bible Book:

"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." (v. 11)

Ezra 3:1-13 Tuesday 16 June 2015

Psalm: Psalm 22:22-31



Having received permission from King Cyrus, the exiles returnhome to rebuild the temple and restore Jerusalem. However, this wasto be no minor task. It was some seven months before, havingreturned to take possession of their home and towns, the peoplegather in Jerusalem to offer the prescribed sacrifices on the altarof the Lord (verses 1-2).

Then it was a case of planning with the necessary builders andcraftsmen to prepare for the laying of the foundations and makearrangements for delivery of the building materials, includingcedar from Lebanon; and all this with the help of a grant from KingCyrus (verse 7) and appropriate professional supervision from amongthe house of Levites (verse 8).

All this meant that it was not until the second year after theirarrival in Jerusalem that the exiles were ready to lay thefoundations. So it is not surprising that this should be a time ofrejoicing, with the priests in their vestments and musiciansleading the singing of psalms (verses 10-11). It is interesting tonote, especially in light of the Methodist Church's consentsprocess for building schemes(!), just how thoroughly the Israelitesprepared for the task before beginning the actual buildingwork.

It's also worth noting that there is some sadness mixed in with thecelebrations; how for those who still remembered the first templeit was also an occasion for weeping, even if their tears weredrowned out by the sound of those rejoicing (verses 12-13).

To Ponder

  • Even after 70 years of exile, the Jews didn't rush intobuilding their new temple without first making proper plans. Whatlessons are there for us today?
  • The exiles mark the laying of foundations with an act ofthanksgiving. How important is it still to give thanks atsignificant stages of our life, whether as individuals or ascommunities?
  • How do we acknowledge the sadness that can still exist even intimes of celebration?
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