Mixed Feelings: July 8-12 BRD

Ezra begins with the proclamation of Cyrus, king of Persia, that Israel may return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. 42,360 of them head home. As soon as they settle in, they get to work. The first order of business was to re-institute the offerings and feasts. After this, they set about to rebuild the Temple. At the laying of the foundation, a ceremony took place to mark the occasion. There were instruments, priests marching, thanksgiving, and praises. “They sang responsively…‘For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever toward Israel” (3:11). It was a joyful time. Well…almost. Amidst all of the rejoicing and shouting for joy, there was the discernible sound of people weeping. These were not tears of joy. These were tears caused by a memory, a memory of the first Temple and the realization that this Second Temple would never match its glory. Why the mixed feelings? There should have been joy. The people have been allowed to return home. They are free from captivity. They are free to return to the worship of God. They will soon have a new Temple. Celebration is in order. However, there should have been weeping as well. For all the cause for joy, it was becoming clear that Israel’s heyday was over. Things would never be as they once were. They were not meant to be. There was a new day quickly approaching. The old forms of worship were to fade away. Worship would soon be directed to a person, not a place. While they may be back home, they were still in captivity, spiritually. What they need now is a Messiah, and He is on His way!