Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ezra - In Truth, We Were Afraid

By Mary Vee
Ezra 3

From Ezra's Journal



Photo Courtesy
My name is Ezra. Our seventy years of captivity in Babylon has ended. King Cyrus gave us permission to return to Jerusalem. I have led those Hebrews who chose to return back to our homeland

We'd settled into our homes and already have spent seven months here. The time flew by so fast.

The day we agreed to meet in Jerusalem had come. Many families joined me on the road toward the temple. Their wagons and arms filled with sacrifices they'd planned to offer. 

A huge crowd formed outside the temple.The building had been burned years ago. There wasn't even a foundation. Our first plan, though, was not to clean the site. Before any steps to fix the temple were taken we wanted to thank our God who brought us out of the land of Babylonia back to our home. 

The priest built an altar for the God of Israel following the instructions in the Law of Moses. 

We should have been happy. Excited to honor our God in our homeland. In truth we were afraid.  

The walls around the city had been ruined. Any person, rebel, trouble maker, or army could enter. 

We were not strong. No one had a decent meal in a while. Our homes still needed repair. Businesses and crops didn't have a chance to get established. We didn't even have enough time to teach our children all they needed to learn. The ways of our God.

Have you walked somewhere and heard a noise? You didn't know who made it or exactly where the person was? That is how we felt.

Even with this fear in our hearts, the sacrifices continued, because that is what God wanted us to do. We started with the morning and evening sacrifices. Next we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices, and all the sacrifices for the appointed sacred feasts of the Lord. Many of the families also brought freewill offerings for the Lord.

After the sacrifices, the people gave money to masons and carpenters to start building the foundation to the temple. Drink and oil was set aside and sent to the nations of Tyre an Sidon in payment for cedar logs. These logs floated by sea from Lebanon to Joppa as Cyrus, king of Persia, ordered. 

Temple jobs were assigned to the Levites.

The construction began.

I didn't count the days, but like the other Hebrews who watched, I sang praises to God each day while the workers laid the foundation. 

Photo Courtesy
On the day the work was finished, the priests dressed in their robes and carried trumpets. Levites carried cymbals and walked to their place. They led all the Hebrews who had returned from seventy years of captivity in Babylon in this song:

He is good. His love to Israel endures forever.

As we sang the last note, men, women and children shouted praises to the Lord. The foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Praise God.

Suddenly, the voices changed. Many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads who had seen the former temple cried. They fell to their knees and covered their eyes. I did the same. The beautiful temple of God that once stood here had been burned by Nebuchadnezzar...and it was our fault. All our fault. We had sinned.

God warned us so many times--so many times to not worship idols. Jerusalem had been consumed with worshipping other idols. We listened to the countries around us.  I'm so sorry to say these idols had even been brought into the temple. Sigh. We were so wrong. So very wrong.

The younger Hebrews shouted for joy. They had never seen how magnificent a temple for the Lord could be.What it does to the heart and soul. At this second, though, they began to understand. 

The young people's shouts mixed with the weeping of the older Hebrews. The sound carried far beyond our borders. News traveled among our enemies: the exiles have returned and are building a temple for the Lord.

In truth, we were afraid.

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1.  What did the people do first after the seven months of rest ended?
2.  What did the people do second?
3.  What were the people afraid of?
4.  What did the people sing?
5.  Why did the older men cry?
6.  Why did the younger men rejoice?
7.  Why were the people afraid?



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