Read: Ezra 3
In the first two chapters of Ezra, the exiles leave Babylon and bring a bunch of stuff with them. This is very much a physical homecoming.
The Israelites return to the land.
Then in Chapter 3, they build an altar and lay the foundation for the temple. The sacrifices resume and the Lord’s holy days are observed. This is their spiritual homecoming.
The Israelites return to the law.
They follow Moses’ instructions, too, down to the very last detail. They want to get this right, so they look to Scripture as their guide.
“Jeshua…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.” (Ezra 3:2)
I love those words…as it is written. This speaks to the authority of Scripture in their lives. And it asks me to consider the authority of Scripture in my own life.
Do I follow what the Bible says? As it is written?
This is the litmus test of any believer. Just as James will later write, we want to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
Once the altar is finished and the daily offerings resume, the people of God turn their attention to laying the foundation of the temple. When they finish this work, there are loud shouts of joy — but only by the younger generation.
The older generation wept at the sight, for they were old enough to remember Solomon’s temple before it. And the new one paled in comparison to the old one.
While younger generation was looking around, the older generation was looking back.
It’s important that all generations come together and learn what the other has to offer.
I’m saddened by the American trend to separate Sunday morning services according to the style of music. This usually results in younger people worshiping together and older people worshiping together. Yet, we are called to work side by side, laboring in the kingdom together.
I know the Sunday morning trend isn’t likely to change anytime soon. But I can at least make an effort to connect with those who are older than me, as well as those who are younger than me. I can learn their names and maybe get to know them a little bit too.
It may not be much. But I don’t want to be like the young and old in Ezra 3, who reacted very differently to the completion of the temple’s foundation. I don’t want to focus on the past or be consumed with the present.
I want to keep my eyes steady on Him who brings us all together as one.
In a journal or notebook, write Ezra 3:11.
“They 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.”
Or write any passage from today’s reading that stands out to you.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us second chances. You gave the people of Israel a another chance to rebuild Jerusalem — and rebuild their lives. You didn’t leave them to do so on their own. You were with them every step of the way, just as you are with me, every step of the way. Help me to be an instrument in bringing different generations together, for we were all made in your image, young and old alike. I pray I will learn to see others as you see them always. In your name I pray, amen.