I have never, thank God, had my house catch on fire. I can only imagine, and prefer not to. When we had our kitchen redone, the contractor found loose, live wires in the walls, which meant a complete gut-and-redo. And again, thanking God that in the twenty-seven years we have lived in this old house, it has not gone up in flames with us in it!
But have you ever considered what you would run to get on your way out the door…? Only that which is most important to you.
Here the people of God were beginning the process of returning to Jerusalem, having been released by the pagan king (Cyrus) in whose domain they had been exiled years earlier. Their beautiful temple, the one Solomon had built for the Lord, had been ransacked and razed. Their homeland was a mess.
Despite opposition and discouragement, rebuilding began. Ezra records some of it here:
When the builders completed the foundation of the LORD’s Temple, the priests put on their robes and took their places to blow their trumpets.
I find this so interesting: where had they kept these special priestly robes for the past seven decades? How is that something you would think to grab as you’re being ousted from your home at point of a spear? Evidently, even in the face of fear and confusion and severe disappointment, there were those who, though humbly sharing in the Lord’s disciplining process with the rest of the people, maintain a faithful stance to their calling. If not for themselves, then for those who they knew would come after them. Wow!
And the Levites, descendants of Asaph, clashed their cymbals to praise the LORD, just as King David had prescribed. With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the LORD: “ He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the LORD because the foundation of the LORD’s Temple had been laid.
They’re celebrating, not the finishing of the new temple, but merely the foundation! I mean, they have a LONG way to go; there are a whole bunch of attacks from unknown enemies in the works, there are going to be many nights without sleep due to aching backs (without ibuprofen, I might add) or due to posted guard duty. And yet, here they are celebrating the Lord’s faithfulness loudly, publicly, at the beginning of the journey. Wow, again.
The priests and Levites represent who we are today, “a royal priesthood” to our God. Like our predecessors in this example, we are to be faithful to the building of God’s temple (the body of Christ), and celebrate His faithfulness even before we see the end result. Or maybe even as the temple is under attack holding on to what we know to be true for those who will come after.
Whatever we reach for in those moments, it had better something that lasts while everything else goes up in smoke.
Ezra 3:10,11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.