The New Temple

Today's Bible reading: Ezra 2:36-54

The edict of Cyrus explicitly called for the rebuilding of the ruined temple.  There could be no restored people without it.  The number of returning exiles - over 42,000 - seems relatively small, but many Jews would have been content to remain in Babylon – having found a new life for themselves there.  The important thing to note is that Ezra records the priests, Levites, and other temple servants who returned to Judea, as well as the temple treasures.  The restoration of worship is the real point of the return from captivity.

In fact, some 22 years passed before the temple was finally completed.  Ezra 3 records the rebuilding of the altar, the celebration of the festival of booths, and the laying of the temple’s foundations.  But repeated interruptions, caused by the Jews enemies, meant long delays.  It was largely due to the work of the prophets Haggai and Zachariah, that the program was speeded up and finally completed in 516 BC.  The joy of this occasion would have been matched by the special joy of celebrating Passover soon afterwards.  We should again note how 6:19-22 stresses the theme of cleanness from pollution.  Having been cleansed from the filth of idolatry, God's people could again worship the holy God in His restore house.

Prayer: Dearest Father, grant me joy and contentment in my calling.  Help me to see the greater purpose and need of my congregation.  Amen.