Have you ever been so excited in the Lord that you could shout? As Christians most of us are far too reserved to be so outward-going with our enthusiasm for what God is doing in our life. After all what will others think? Shout? Well, that’s exactly what some formerly captive Jews did in the midst of their worship when celebrating the completion of the foundation for a new structure in the city of Jerusalem more than 2,500 years ago: All the people shouted!! And very soon I hope my church will be so excited in the Lord that they, too, will shout in celebration at the completion of the foundation for our new worship center … a facility where the Word of God can be preached and countless souls will be saved. Both of these events are quite significant in that each one is in accordance with God’s direction. And each one is most important as it marks a major milestone for God’s people in fulfilling His will.
Ezra 3:11 – And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And ALL The People Shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
The Babylonian Captivity for the Jews came to an end in 538 BC when Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, at the command of the Lord, issued a decree (Ezra 1) providing for the rebuilding of the Jewish Holy Temple which had been destroyed in the conquest of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar in the summer of 587 BC.
The decree of Cyrus allowed those surviving Jews who desired to do so to return to Jerusalem for the building project. In addition, Cyrus provided for monetary, physical and human resources to assist with the completion of the massive effort. Cyrus also returned prized possessions to the Jews which were removed during Nebuchadnezzar‘s conquest. These would be placed back into the newly built Temple upon completion.
In reality, a relatively small number of Jews actually returned to Jerusalem to work on rebuilding the Holy Temple. But those who did return anxiously began to plan and gather materials for the project. As one would expect, the Jews faced significant opposition from the gentile inhabitants now making their homes in and around Jerusalem. The Jews also experienced some internal confusion among their own ranks as differing opinions arose about exactly how to proceed. Nevertheless, with God’s guidance and the workers perseverance, the massive rebuild was completed 23 years later in 515 BC.
It would be another sixty years before the second wave of approximately 2,000 Jews would return to their homeland along with Ezra, a Levite scribe and direct descendant of Aaron (Ezra 7:1-6). Ultimately Ezra, Nehemiah and others led the Jewish people to confession and repentance of their sins (Nehemiah 9), renewal of their covenant with God (Nehemiah 10), spiritual revival, and the rebuilding and celebration of the completion of the Jerusalem Wall (Nehemiah 12). The Jews once again had a nation under God centered in Jerusalem.
None of this could have happened if that original small number of Jews had not been faithful to return to Jerusalem to complete what likely seemed in the beginning to be an almost insurmountable objective. That small group of faithful Jews provided the foundation for the rebuilding of the Temple and for the workers that would follow.
We should never be discouraged by the size of a group of God’s faithful followers who set out to accomplish His will. Our God is faithful! Our God owns ALL of the resources. Our God has everything under His control. Just as that small but faithful group of Jews did, may we as faithful followers of Christ continue to lay and build a foundation for the future of Christianity. And along with our faithful predecessors, may we be a participating voice in the band of believers where All The People Shouted.
Holy Father, we confess our sins and doubts and ask You for forgiveness. Help us to have trusting faith like that small group of Jews that returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Lord, we know that You are all that we need. Give us Your vision and lead us to accept that vision for the future. We offer You thanksgiving and praise for Your faithfulness. In the name of Jesus, amen and amen.