PFOA : Ezra 3
Read Ezra 3
Chapter 2 gives a list of those who returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple and we all find it tough going with the Hebrew names. What we should note firstly is that they went as extended families. Secondly, they went with their belongings. But there were no thoughts of backing out; they knew it would be hard work, rebuilding their homes, their farms and the temple. And thirdly, when they came to the site of the destroyed temple, they made free-will offerings of money and kind for the rebuilding of the temple on the old site.
The returnees began the rebuilding first with worship by setting up the altar for the burnt offerings. There was celebration of the Festival of Booths or Tabernacles (v. 4), reminding themselves of God’s miracle of salvation that took place not too long ago, in their own lifetimes, when Esther was queen. And they gave money and commissioned the builders to begin work on the foundation of the temple.
All the people were thoroughly involved in the building, some working and building, others supervising. It seemed like as the building progressed, they were always praising, worshipping, and giving as they worked. And when the foundation was completed, they had a great celebration (v. 10). As in all such undertakings, there were those who thought things could be done differently (v. 12), nevertheless all were caught up in the rejoicing, praise and worship (v. 13).
Today, such building or other projects can be rather remote and inaccessible for our physical participation. These undertakings can be the construction of a church building; planting a church locally or in a foreign country; an evangelistic or community development programme by missionaries, or a Bible translation project for Bible-less communities. How can every church member be involved?
Let’s think a bit about what would have gone on in the minds of these returnee Jews. Certainly they were abreast of the progress and problems. They had to tend to their own farms and homes as well as the building of the temple. And the need for money and materials would be very much on their minds. How would they have responded?
They were certainly rejoicing, praising and worshipping God for the opportunity of participating in this work of service and labour of love. They would be praying fervently for the work, the needs, and protection from adversaries and detractors. They would be encouraging one another. They would have given freely and served in any way they could.
Though today we may be remote from the mission field, or the work-site, and may not have the competency to participate directly, communities of believers (e.g. the church) today can and should have a similar attitude as these returnees for all their projects and undertakings.
~ Dr Tony Chan ~