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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Ezra 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-13

Chapter 3

And when the seventh month was come, the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and they built the altar of God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. And they set the altar upon its bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening ( Ezra 3:1-3 ).

Now Zerubbabel was more or less the political leader of the people who returned. Zerubbabel was a grandson to the one king of Israel, Jehoiachin. And so, had they followed the monarchy, he would have been the king, but he didn't assume the position of a monarch. But he was the leader of the people in a political sense; whereas Jeshua the priest was the leader of the people in a spiritual sense. Jeshua was the priest leading them in spiritual things; Zerubbabel became more or less a governor over this remnant of people that returned. However, he was of the royal line of David and could have assumed the position of the king. However, the monarchy had ended and is not to be picked up again until Jesus Christ comes. And He will sit upon the throne of David and God's promise to David that there shall not cease one from his family sitting upon the throne forever will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again and establishes God's eternal kingdom upon the earth.

And so, if you will at this point next week read the book of Zechariah, you will find where Zerubbabel and Jeshua fit into the picture. They were the instruments that God used in bringing the people back and in encouraging the people. These two men were vital instruments of God. And you'll find more record concerning them there in the prophecies of Zechariah. And also at this particular period of the building of the temple, you'll find Haggai has a lot to say about this. So this week as extra-curricular reading, you might want to go to Haggai and Zechariah, because it fits right into this general period.

So they gather together and they started offering sacrifices to the Lord, even before the temple was rebuilt. They cleared off the area of the altar. They began to offer the morning and evening sacrifices, because actually there was a lot of hostility from the people around about them. And they were living in real fear. So they were really seeking God's protection and started offering sacrifices both morning and evening.

Now they kept the feast of the tabernacles ( Ezra 3:4 ),

Which, of course, is in October. They were there, it said, in the ninth month they came back, so they started keeping again the feast of the tabernacles the tenth month.

They offered the daily burnt offerings, according to the number that was required ( Ezra 3:4 );

And so forth. And the special offerings of the feasts and all.

and every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the Lord ( Ezra 3:5 ).

It is interesting how that all the time the mention of giving to God is always mentioned in a free will, willingly. Pressure is never right when it comes to giving to God. You should never give out of constraint. Paul said, "but as every man hath purposed in his own heart, so let him give" ( 2 Corinthians 9:7 ). And so it is a shame that the church has adopted pressure tactics in trying to get pledges out of people or get offerings out of people or get support for God's work. And there are various types of pressure tactics that are used. There's a lot of weeping and wailing, which is a pressure tactic to get your sympathy so that you'll send your money in. And there's a lot of exuberance and hilarity and all and push, push, push.

But it should never be, because so often if I give, actually if I give in order that I might be seen of men to give, if I'm giving in a public service because everyone who is going to give so much is going to stand up, you know, and then you get your public recognition, then after I give it, I feel bad. "Oh my, really didn't want to give that much and I can't afford that and all." And you begin to feel bad, and then you begin to resent what you gave to God. That's terrible. God doesn't want anybody griping over what they've given to Him. And thus, your giving should always be willingly, a freewill offering unto the Lord. And that should, that's really the whole rule of giving to God. Freely, of your own heart. Not by pressure, not by constraint, not by someone begging or pushing. But you are just determining in your heart, "I want to give this to God," and then doing it without any fanfare or anything else. Just, "Hey, Lord, I love You and I want to just give this to You, Lord. I just thank You for the opportunity of giving." And give freely unto God. And always through the Old Testament this is emphasized. And of course, the New Testament has declared not by constraint, not by force, but willingly, let everybody lay aside that which he has purposed in his own heart.

So the people gave in order that they might start building the temple.

And they gave money to the masons, the carpenters ( Ezra 3:7 );

And they hired actually men to go up to Tyre and Zidon and to bring down some of the cedar timbers in order that they might start rebuilding, even as Solomon had brought the timbers from Tyre and Zidon for the building of the first temple, down to Joppa. So now they are bringing more of those timbers out of the area of Lebanon to build, to rebuild the temple.

In the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the remnant of their brethren the priests, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD. Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and they set forward the workmen in the house of God. And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites and the sons of Asaph with their cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David the king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and in giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid ( Ezra 3:8-11 ).

And so you can get a mental picture of this scene. They came back to Jerusalem which had been lying there desolate for seventy years. So the, just have become overgrown. Some of the men that came back actually had seen Jerusalem before its destruction. They had seen the original temple. Some of the very old men. But most of them had never seen Jerusalem before. Only they came back to a city of rubble. The older men no doubt directed them to the place where Solomon's temple have been built. They cleared away the rubble and they laid the foundation stones once more. And they were so thrilled that the foundation stones were laid that they had a big ceremony offering offerings unto God, the priest blowing on their trumpets, others sounding with their cymbals. And there were two hundred singers. And so they had, no doubt, several choirs. And one was singing and then another praises unto the Lord as they were praising God and as the choirs were singing, the people were there worshipping God and just so thankful that a center of worship was being created once again where they could gather before God and offer their offering unto Him.

But as they were singing and praising the Lord, some of these old men who remembered the glory of Solomon's temple, the beauty and the glory of that temple, when they saw the foundations and they realized, "Hey, you know, we're putting this thing together nickel and dime, and that one of Solomon's was so glorious," these old men began to weep. The younger fellows were all excited. We're going to have a temple again. But the older fellows, remembering the glory that was past, the glory that was lost, they wept. And so you have half of them, or not half, you have a bunch of them weeping, some of them yelling, and you couldn't tell the difference in the noise whether or not they were weeping or praising, and all as the noise mingled together. But they made such a racket that it was heard afar off. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezra 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/ezra-3.html. 2014.
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