In this morning’s Bible reading, I came across a pretty fascinating story. In short, many of the Israelites who had been in Assyrian/Babylonian captivity were allowed to go back to Israel to rebuild.
In Ezra 3:10, it tells us specifically that “…the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD…” Simply stated, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed about 50 years earlier but a new replacement was being constructed.
However, we notice something very interesting in Ezra 3:11-12. Notice the two very different ways that the Israelites responded when the foundation of the temple was laid and they observed it…
“… And all the people shouted 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 fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy,”.
Did you get that? The young people were excited. They shouted for joy. Yet, the older folks wept. The text tells us why. The ones who wept were the “old men who had seen the first house.”
What’s going on here? Why are the young people shouting for joy and the older folks weeping?
Because this new temple was all the young folks knew. They had never seen Solomon’s temple. They just knew that they were experiencing the building of a new place of worship and they were excited.
Yet, the older folks wept because they “had seen the first house.” They had seen Solomon’s temple in all of its glory. It was massive. It was beautiful. God’s visible presence had been in that temple. So had been the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, Solomon’s temple reminded them of when Israel’s power and prestige were at its climax. Everything was going right for Israel and the temple, arguably one of the greatest wonders of the world at that time, spoke of the glory of Israel and of Israel’s God.
But, some 50 years after Solomon’s temple was destroyed, the older folks looked at this new temple’s foundation. They realized it was smaller, much smaller. The Ark of the Covenant was gone. God’s presence seemed strangely absent. The beauty of this new temple would pale in comparison to what they had seen before. The glory was gone. That’s why they wept. Their hearts longed for what once was but was no longer.
In today’s church culture, there are many worshippers that leave our church worship services with joy. They speak of the wonderful music or the great preaching/teaching. They enjoy the time to fellowship with their church family of friends. They are excited about what they experienced.
Yet, there is another group of worshippers who react differently. Either in their own individual lives or in a church setting, they’ve experienced God in times of revival. They have seen God move so powerfully that they were left with lasting memories of what He did. God became more real to them than they ever imagined. They experienced God’s power and glory and long to experience it again. Yet, they see the absence of that power today and they “weep.”
Those who haven’t been in a time of revival don’t know that something more, something better exists … so they enjoy what they’ve got. Yet, there are those who see how far we have fallen and long for God to move again.
Yet, while Solomon’s temple was gone forever never to return, God’s glory just might yet be experienced again! God is waiting on us! He has given us instruction on how to prepare revival. It is yet to be seen whether we will act on it.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)