But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy.
Ezra 3: 12

Reading: Nehemiah 9

There was joy and a sense of community, of fitness and rightness, that attended the various Returns to the land – and the rebuilding of the temple and the city walls. However, for those who were old enough to have seen the former times, there was also, sorrow. 

Why were these people weeping loudly? On this occasion, a great shout of joy was raised, but it was intermingled the sound of weeping, because this new temple could not begin to compare with the glories of the previous temple. The land had suffered much through the various exiles and the people were impoverished.  

The temple was a symbol for the whole Davidic-Solomonic kingdom as a whole. Those glories were over. The people of God were no longer living in a sovereign state – they were vassals of the Persian Empire. And interestingly, they were never to be self-determining again. 

Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, was living proof that the promises of the Davidic Covenant were still in effect (Ezra 3:25:2). But, Zerubbabel did not preside over anything close to the kingdom that had been promised to David, to say nothing of the far more glorious kingdom predicted in the prophets. Both Ezra and Nehemiah, in their prayers, indicated their acute awareness that they were still under foreign domination, and thus not free (Ezra 9:7Neh. 9:36).

So what had become of the promises of God? Dare we just say that they had fizzled out? Had never been real? The people of God faced a huge challenge and so do we, when the realisation of the promises of God is delayed. 


Dear Lord, help me to be faithful and trusting concerning Your promises, even when they are delayed. 


Watch this video over the next few days

Temple as theme