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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

May 21, 2024

Rēad to Read …Again

 

Daily Reading: Ezra 1-3

 

Ezra 3:12

But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

 

Years ago, I visited a church that at one time was one of the largest in the United States. Its auditorium was huge! I’d heard stories of that great church for years. With mixed emotion I sat in that service with my mind and heart pulled in two directions. One was sadness in that there were only about 15 people in an auditorium that would hold in excess of 1,000. The other was the excitement of the 15. They were looking forward to their new pastor and had great expectations for their future.

 

That must have been what it was like in the days described in Ezra 3. The foundation of the new temple was laid, but it was modest in size compared to the past glorious temple that Solomon had built. That temple had been destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. The ancient men that had seen the glory of Solomon’s temple cried bitterly remembering its size and beauty. The younger Israelites that were born and raised in captivity (70 years) rejoiced to see a new temple being constructed. This second temple is commonly called Zerubbabel’s Temple. It was built by the returning Judaean exiles from the Babylonian captivity.

 

Many older Christians that grew up in the 50’s and 60’s sometimes seem to reluctantly look back at the big days, the revivals, the brush arbor meetings, the exponential growth of Bible believing churches and wonder where are those today? A younger crowd sees things differently. They are looking forward to greater days ahead. One group had a tendency to look back, one ahead.

 

Frankly, we need both. In Ephesians 5:15 we are told, See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. In context Paul is admonishing the folks of Ephesus to wake up, redeem the day, be not unwise, but rather understanding. To do this he instructs his readers to walk circumspectly. You’ve heard the old saying about having your head on a swivel. This is what circumspectly means. A 360-degree view of all that is: ahead, behind, and to each side.

 

The aged men in our verse today only looked behind. The younger crowd only looked ahead. There is benefit in both. Let us not be so locked into one view we cannot appreciate the other.  That which is behind us is our foundation. That which is before us is our aim. That which is on our side is today. Those returning from captivity had no option to worship in Solomon’s temple, for it had been destroyed. All they had was the future and that future was built on their “today’s” work. They laid the foundation; that was a good start. There was much work to be done, it would take years, it would take leadership, it would take sacrifice. To stay in balance in the Christian life, one very important trait is to appreciate the past, look to the future, and do the work of today.

 

Dr. William T. Howe

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