Shouts of joy and weeping

Ezra 3:12-13
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.

There are many today who lament the state of churches around the world, especially here in America. It seems that many churches have made compromises concerning the Word of God, His commandments and ordinances, bowing down at the altars of popularity and worldly social norms. But despite those things, we have hope that younger churches will succeed where the old have fallen away.

In today’s verses we witness a very emotional moment. The Jews have been returned from their captivity in Babylon to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, and at the finishing of the foundation they hold a worship celebration. All of the younger people are singing in thanks and praise and great joy. But there are those who remember the old Temple, who remember the glory of the house of the Lord built by King Solomon, and many of those people weep at seeing the new foundation. They weep with great emotion, so loudly that it is hard to distinguish between the shouts of joy and the shouts of anguish.

These men and women not only remember the Temple as it was, they remember their own sin as it was before the Lord God sent them into captivity. They remember who Israel had become – divided, ungodly, stubborn, depraved – and these people lament the loss of innocence and the loss of generations in years of bondage. They weep for joy mixed with sadness that their friends and spouses and children who died in Babylon could not be there to see this great day. They weep, too, for this new generation, because these young people have no concept of the true glory of God’s house.

You see, the glory of the house of God truly is not in its walls and trappings, but in its foundation. Jesus tells us this:

Matthew 7:24-25
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”

The Temple had fallen because the people had lost the solid rock of their foundation. They had turned away from God bit by bit until all that was left was gold-covered walls on a foundation of sand.

If we are to rebuild God’s house today, to have a place where He will desire to come among us in Spirit and in truth, then we need to get back to the bedrock of His wisdom: the Holy Bible. As Jesus said, we are not just supposed to hear the sayings of God, we are to DO them. We cannot simply give lip service to the commandments and to God’s standards and expect to have a solid foundation for our relationship with God.

God is ready to bless the whole body of Christ which is His church. What does He want from us? God wants us to build a new foundation with full awareness of where we have been, full acknowledgement of our sins and His mercy, and full commitment to rebuilding our relationship according to His rules and His design as found in His Holy Word. So let us shout for joy at the new foundation we lay today, and also weep for our past sins and losses, and then let us move forward to build a new life in Christ.

Lord God, we come to You today as a people returning from bondage, a chosen remnant left behind to rebuild the glory of a close relationship with You. Teach us and guide us, O Lord, through Your Word. Allow us to experience Your Holy Spirit as we seek Your face in all we do. Keep us on course to the Solid Rock who is Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


About Glenn Pettit

I am a deacon at The Well of Iowa, and a father and grandfather. Called to teach and to preach, I write fresh messages about the Bible every now and then.
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