The returning exiles had important work to do. They needed to rebuild the temple. This great project began with the building of an altar for the sacrifice of animals according to the Law of Moses. The people also kept the Feast of Booths at the appointed time. This feast was a celebration of the Lord dwelling with His people. They looked for a better day in the near future when the foundation of the new temple would be put in place and when the massive timbers that would come once again from the forests of Lebanon would be used to build up the Lord’s house.
In the second year of their return the work would begin. This was far more than a construction project done according to the strength of men. It was an act of worship. When the builders laid the foundation, the priests and Levites came forward with song and instruments of praise.
Unless the Lord would build this great house, those who labored on the project would do so in vain. The people needed to believe the Word of God and trust that the character of God was supremely worthy. They sang to a living Lord who had brought them this far and would see them through to the end of their days. Together they sang out regarding His goodness, “for His steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
This worship of God was not only a task for the priests and the Levites. All of the Lord’s people joined in the praise of God together. A great shout came forth from God’s assembly. Many were celebrating, but some of the elderly were weeping because they knew about the greater glory of the former house that had been destroyed by the Babylonians so many years before.
We who worship the Lord God through Jesus, our Redeemer, are being built up together into a holy temple in the Lord. We may mourn the state of the Lord’s church in various times and places, but we thank God for the privilege that we have of participation in a glorious enterprise of worship and service. Though we may appear as nothing in the eyes of those who dismiss Jesus and His church, we know that not one of the Lord’s promises will ever fail. We are a part of an everlasting kingdom and we will praise the Lord forever and ever.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O Lord of Hosts, we have a job to do, for You are using us to build a temple. Your Son has promised to build His church, yet He grants to men a part that we are to play in His great work. We certainly cannot do this holy work unless You lead us, and supply what is necessary. You have perfect plans for Your eternal temple on high. You have given Your Son as the Cornerstone of this greatest of all houses. Your apostles are the one foundation set in perfect order according to that one precious Stone laid in Zion. What a marvelous truth! We have a place in Your church, for we are living stones set upon a sure apostolic foundation given to us in Your Word.