We learned from Ezra 2 that when the people of God first returned from Babylon, they were each living in their own cities. After seven months, Ezra 3:1 says that they gathered in unity in Jerusalem. We surmised from this that they only started work after seven months. We won’t be overstretching our interpretation to say that they were being cautious and did not want to stir up needless opposition or hostility from the non-Jews occupying Jerusalem. This account for why they did not jump straight into the restoration of the temple.
In life, wisdom dictates that caution should be exercised whenever we embark on something new. There is always a need to survey the ground and know the condition better before launching one’s work. This best explains why they took seven months before starting work. Like them, as we are appraising the situation, nothing can be better than seeking the Lord daily through prayer and devotion.
Ezra 3:2 reveals that Jeshua and his brothers who were priests as well as Zerubbabel and his brothers began the work of rebuilding the altar of the God of Israel. And as the law required, they then offered burnt offerings on it. They did it according to the law that Moses the man of God had prescribed. Ezra 3:3 said that they were terrified of the people occupying the land and this fear drove them to rebuild the altar on the foundation. The “foundation” is referring to the place where the old altar stood.
Why were they fearful? Bear in mind that though Persia was the dominant power, the occupiers of Jerusalem were still idolatrous Babylonians and hostile opposers who worship their gods. Yet despite their fear, the Jews went on to rebuild that altar. In life, some people can be so petrified by fear till they are frozen. Others challenged by fear are driven to their knees to seek the Lord. Obviously, the fear caused the returned exiles to seek to make right their relationship with the LORD, their covenant God. So they built the altar and on it, they offered burnt offerings to Him day and night.
One lesson to take away. Notice that on the altar, they offer their burnt offering day and night. There is a need for us to come to the altar of God daily too. Why? Because we need to live consecrated life daily. It’s also because we need daily strength from God to deal with our daily encounters in life. Besides, there is nothing like beginning right with God each day and then having Him guide us through each moment of life.
Monday – Psalm 5:1-3
Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
Tuesday – Psalm 27:4
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
Wednesday – Psalm 14:2
The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who understand,
Who seek after God.
Thursday – Deuteronomy 4:29
But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
Friday – Psalm 63:1
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Saturday – 1 Chronicles 22:19
Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the Lord God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for the name of the Lord.”
Sunday – Isaiah 58:2
“Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God.
All scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard Bible (NASB1995).
By Pastor Clarence Goh