Today’s Passage – Ezra 3 – 7; Proverbs 28
(Second Milers also read – Romans 13 – 16; Memorize Proverbs 11:13)
“But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: 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 noise was heard afar off.” (Ezra 3:12 & 13)
In chapter 3 of today’spassage we see the children of Israel (or at least some of them) back in their land after a long captivity in Babylon and Persia. Eventually they begin the process of rebuilding the Temple of God that had been completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar years earlier. Remember, the Temple that had been built by Solomon was perhaps the most beautiful piece of architecture that has ever been constructed, with literally tons of gold covering much of the building itself, and also the furniture and instruments used in the temple. The building that they were in the process of constructing now could not possibly compare to the old one. However, it is important to note that these elder men who were despondent over the lack of luxury in this new temple had actually never seen the presence of God at the old one. At the time that they were there (before the captivity), the glory of God had long since departed because of the falling away of the people of God. So these elders were upset simply because of a building. They failed to see that this new building, though not nearly as ornate and expensive as the old, had the potential for being a place where God would actually meet with His people.
In my 20 years or so of being saved, I have seen this same mentality. I have seen church buildings that were absolutely gorgeous with large auditoriums, countless classrooms, fellowship halls, and even landscaped gardens. However, many of these buildings, though beautiful, have “Ichabod” written all over them. But on the other side of town there is a storefront building with no classrooms, where a preacher and church are boldly proclaiming the Truth, with the Spirit of God all over them. Yet, most people in the world; and even most Christians would say that the church with the beautiful facility is the “real” church.
One more thought from this passage: Sometimes, those that have been saved for awhile, and have seen the power of God in previous years, tend to live in the past. God does not live in the past. Actually he is way ahead of us. We are supposed to be following Him. This is partially what Paul meant when he said, “leaving those things which are behind”. I believe the greatest movement of God is yet to come. I believe the greatest days of Jersey Shore Baptist Church will be in the tomorrows; not in the yesterdays. While I rejoice over what God has done in the past, I am looking for “greater works than these”.
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