God’s Renewing Word of Thankfulness and Praise
Ezra 3:1-13: The priests rebuild the altar and begin offering sacrifices according to the instructions God had given Moses. The people celebrate the Festival of Shelters as a reminder of how God protected the people of Israel in the wilderness (see Leviticus 23:33-36; Numbers 29:12-40). The rebuilding of the Temple begins with the laying of the foundation.
Worship Begins Again
3 By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns. Then they all assembled in Jerusalem, 2 and Joshua son of Jehozadak, his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, together with his relatives, rebuilt the altar of the God of Israel, so that they could burn sacrifices on it according to the instructions written in the Law of Moses, the man of God. 3 Even though the returning exiles were afraid of the people who were living in the land, they rebuilt the altar where it had stood before. Then they began once again to burn on it the regular morning and evening sacrifices. 4 They celebrated the Festival of Shelters according to the regulations; each day they offered the sacrifices required for that day; 5 and in addition they offered the regular sacrifices to be burned whole and those to be offered at the New Moon Festival and at all the other regular assemblies at which the Lord is worshiped, as well as all the offerings that were given to the Lord voluntarily. 6 Although the people had not yet started to rebuild the Temple, they began on the first day of the seventh month to burn sacrifices to the Lord.
The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins
7 The people gave money to pay the stonemasons and the carpenters and gave food, drink, and olive oil to be sent to the cities of Tyre and Sidon in exchange for cedar trees from Lebanon, which were to be brought by sea to Joppa. All this was done with the permission of Emperor Cyrus of Persia. 8 So in the second month of the year after they came back to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, they began work. Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of their people, the priests, and the Levites, in fact all the exiles who had come back to Jerusalem, joined in the work. All the Levites twenty years of age or older were put in charge of the work of rebuilding the Temple. 9 The Levite Jeshua and his sons and relatives, and Kadmiel and his sons (the clan of Hodaviah) joined together in taking charge of the rebuilding of the Temple. (They were helped by the Levites of the clan of Henadad.)
10 When the builders started to lay the foundation of the Temple, the priests in their robes took their places with trumpets in their hands, and the Levites of the clan of Asaph stood there with cymbals. They praised the Lord according to the instructions handed down from the time of King David. 11 They sang the Lord’s praises, repeating the refrain:
“The Lord is good, and his love for Israel is eternal.” Everyone shouted with all their might, praising the Lord, because the work on the foundation of the Temple had been started. 12 Many of the older priests, Levites, and heads of clans had seen the first Temple, and as they watched the foundation of this Temple being laid, they cried and wailed. But the others who were there shouted for joy.
13 No one could distinguish between the joyful shouts and the crying, because the noise they made was so loud that it could be heard for miles.
Today’s Key Verse: Ezra 3:11a
[The priests and Levites] sang the LORD’s praises, repeating the refrain: “The LORD is good, and his love for Israel is eternal.”
What was the first thing that was done to enable worship to begin again? What was the first festival that was celebrated? What took place when the builders started to lay the foundation of the Temple? What celebrations take place within your community of faith?
Lord God, you are indeed good and your love is eternal. With joy in my heart, I worship you and thank and praise you for your daily blessings. Amen.
Ezra 4:24—5:17: Work on rebuilding the Temple begins again.