SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
“10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests stood[a] 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” Ezra 3:10-13.
“SING A NEW SONG TO THE LORD, FOR HE HAS DONE WONDERFUL DEEDS. HIS RIGHT HAND HAS WON A MIGHTY VICTORY; HIS HOLY ARM HAS SHOWED HIS SAVING POWER” Psalm 98:1.
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we looked at the importance of UNITY. We realized that the Jews, led by their leaders, united to start the rebuilding of the Temple which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army. We made the point that everyone was involved in the rebuilding of the Temple and no one was left out. This taught us that God has given each of us special gifts and talents which need to be combined to accomplish the task assigned to us by the LORD. Therefore, no one should be exempted; neither should anyone exempt him/her self. We should rather combine our gifts and pursue the task of winning the whole world for Christ. In this edition, we want to focus on the reaction of the Jews after they had finished building the foundation of the Second Temple.
We saw from Ezra 3:3 that the Jews were scared of the peoples surrounding them at the time they were building the altar of God. However, they were able to complete the building of the altar because they were united. This same attitude of unity was applied in the rebuilding of the Temple. All the Jews joined hands to start the building of the Temple amidst the surrounding peoples who felt insecure because of the presence of the Jews. It is important to remind readers that those peoples on the land at the time the Jews returned had been brought to Israel by the Assyrians after they had taken them into captivity. Having been captured from different nations and brought there by the Assyrians, they had lost track of where they actually came from. They had therefore made their new home their home and lived there for centuries before Jews returned from their exile in Babylon. So when the Jews returned, the strangers began feeling that the Jews would fight with them for the land, they were therefore unfriendly towards the Jews.
With their presence, it was always going to be difficult for the Jews to accomplish anything meaningful. Yet, with the LORD on their side, the Jews were able to lay the foundation of the Second Temple. The point being made here is that the Jews completed building the foundation of the Temple under very difficult circumstances. They only succeeded because the LORD was with them and helped them to accomplish their set target. I would therefore like to assure God’s people that the journey we have started in 2014 may become difficult. Things may not go as expected. We may be discouraged and distracted by many factors. Yet, we are assured of victory in the end because the LORD is with us. Let us therefore trust the LORD to take us through it successfully.
After they had finished laying the foundation of the Temple, the Jews, knowing the hand of the LORD in what they had accomplished, sang songs to thank and praise Him. Indeed they had finished laying the foundation of the Temple to their own amazement. They had little hope of completing the task in view of the enemies surrounding them, but the LORD protected and guided them to the end. Consequently, they showed their appreciation to the LORD Almighty while singing:
“HE IS GOOD; HIS LOVE TO ISRAEL ENDURES FOREVER” Ezra 3:11b.
All the people shouted for joy even though many of the older priests and Levites wept because of the inferior nature of the Temple when compared with the ‘Solomonic’ Temple. What matters most is that they rejoiced greatly in the LORD and thanked Him for helping them accomplish such an important task. This should give all of us the assurance that with the LORD on our side, nothing is impossible. We should however not forget to give God the praise He deserves after he has guided us into victory. Most often we forget to give God the glory due Him and take the glory ourselves or attribute our successes to other factors. But the Jews knew and demonstrated that it took only the hand of the LORD to achieve such a great feat. This year may not be so easy for us, but I want to assure you that the LORD will take us through it victoriously. We should never forget what the LORD has done for us; what He is doing for us and what He will do for us. We should always be prepared in our hearts to give Him the praise He alone deserves. If we allow the LORD to be our guide, we shall surely accomplish every good thing we want to achieve in the year 2014 and beyond and all the glory will be given to Him.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.