WEEP AND REJOICE
Suggested Reading: Ezra 3-4
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Key Verse: Ezra 3:12
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of their fathers’ houses, who were 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…
Today’s reading tells a story of tragedy and triumph! The people followed a two-year plan of worship and work (100words is also on a two-year plan). The foundation of God’s house had been completed. It was time to rejoice, reminisce, and express hope for the future.
The destruction of the original Temple by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had not hindered the worship of the true God in the people’s hearts. In fact, the opposite was true. The 70 years of captivity in Babylon had purified and intensified their fervency for God. The circumstances demanded small group gatherings. Eventually this would result in the development of the synagogue movement. Even before they began the construction project, they set up an altar to express reverence and obedience to God. Building or no building, God’s people will always find a place of personal, and if available, corporate worship.
In chapter 4 we read of a delay in construction of the physical building; but the building of the holy temple, “Eternal in the heavens” went right on. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16 to 5:1-8.
PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Lord God, Like the people who gathered around Ezra’s vision, sometimes I weep and sometimes I shout for joy. You know my heart and mind. I pray for grace and consistency to worship You at all times and all places. Amen!
100 PERSONAL WORDS:
I served for several years as a judge in “The International Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.” One recipient for whom I voted was Rabbi Lord Jacobovitz, chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth (see photo below). He had written extensively on the subject of medical ethics, but the main reason I supported him was for his work with the USSR in bringing Jewish people out of the oppression and persecution of the Soviet Union. The people were called “Refuseniks.” He, like Ezra, succeeded magnificently in the fulfillment of his vision. At Convocation Hall in the University of Toronto, where he was honoured, I had the opportunity of a long conversation with him. We agreed that one of the tragedies in history was when Jewish Christian leaders, who led the Christian Church for the first decades, were replaced by non-Jewish leaders. Let us not forget that all the Apostles were Jews, as was Jesus, Himself. Read Romans 11:11-24. We who are Gentiles are the wild olive branch grafted in. The “olive tree” itself is very much alive. Approximately two centuries later, the evil of so-called “Replacement Theology” (the Church replacing Israel in the plan of God) planted seeds from which the ugly spectre of anti-semitism eventually grew. The Rabbi and I rejoiced for the occasion of the Templeton Prize and the recognition of his work, but we wept over the disastrous chasm which opened up between those who practised Judaism and those who claimed to practise Christianity.
Yours for restoration for all that is God’s will for His people,