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THE ALTAR AND SACRIFICES RESUMED
Though the building of the temple did not begin until the second month of the second year (v. 8), the children of Israel gathered together "as one man" in the seventh month of the year to Jerusalem, that is, the same year they returned to Judah. At least they could build the altar of God, which symbolized their relationship with God on the basis of sacrifice. We too can have no relationship with God apart from the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. That sacrifice is therefore the basis of true worship. Jeshua the high priest, son of Jozadak and his brethren the priests, as well as Zerubbabel the governor, son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, lesser rulers in Judah, together joined in rebuilding the altar with the object of offering burnt offerings to the Lord. The burnt offering, being the most important of all the offerings, speaks of the glory that God receives from the value of the sacrifice of Christ, They were concerned too that they should do this consistently with what was written years before by Moses, the man of God.
In spite of their fear of the opposition to the true worship of God, they set the altar upon its bases. They established their worship on the true basis of the Word of God, not hiding this from the eye
This seventh month too was the month of the Feast of Tabernacles, and they kept this according to the written law, offering daily burnt offerings. Surely believers today are encouraged by this, even when deprived of the outward blessing of which the temple speaks, to do what they are able in giving the Lord His place of supreme honor.
After this Feast of Tabernacles, they continued to offer regular burnt offerings and offerings for the New Moons and for all the appointed feasts of the Lord. There were those also who offered freewill offerings to the Lord, offerings moved by special exercise of faith on the part of individuals. How good if we today engage in something like this too!
Verse 6 reminds us that they began these offerings from the first day of the seventh month, though the foundation of the temple had not yet been laid. But in preparation for building, they gave money to masons and carpenters, as well as food, drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, that they should bring cedar logs from Lebanon to the sea, to be floated to Joppa, from whence they would be transported to Jerusalem (v. 7).This was according to the directive of Cyrus.This was certainly not on the scale that prevailed in Solomon's building of the temple (1 Kings 5:11-14), but the supplies were from the same source.
THE REBUILDING BEGINS
Preparations and gathering of materials for the rebuilding took some length of time, so that it was the second month of the second year before the building of the foundation began (v.8). Zerubbabel the governor, Jeshua the high priest with the other priests and Levites took the initiative to unitedly begin the building.
When the foundation was laid the people paused to celebrate this glad occasion. We may rightly say that, though everything was not yet accomplished, the basis of truth was recognized, which is a reminder of2 Timothy 2:19; 2 Timothy 2:19, "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands." When there has been departure from the truth and saints of God are exercised by God to return to Him, itis of vital encouragement to be reminded that God's solid foundation stands. Surely it is this, and nothing less that we desire! Thus it was fitting that Judah should rejoice when the foundation was laid. Priests stood in their apparel with trumpets and Levites with cymbals, to praise the Lord (v. 10). Their praise and thanksgiving too was expressed in song, celebrating the goodness and mercy of the Lord. The people responded also with a great shout of rejoicing (v. 11).
However, though many of the older priests and Levites who had seen the first temple were thankful for this small measure of recovery, they wept in comparing the small size of this foundation with that which they had known before. Do we not today have something of the same sorrow when we consider the first estate of the Church of God when seen as established through the work of the Holy Spirit in the apostles, and compare it with the smallness of any recovery that has been seen since the failure and departure of the church generally? But the shout of joy evidently countered the sorrow of weeping.
There have been various measures of recovery of the truth of God in the church, as in Israel, though it seems as time goes on, such occasions have become more feeble, and it was so in Israel too. For it was not long after this return from captivity and the joy that Judah experienced, before their condition again deteriorated so sadly that by the end of the Old Testament Malachi records, not only the failure, but the rebellion of priests together with the people generally. Only a few then truly sought the Lord, of whom we read, "a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name" (Malachi 2:16).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Ezra 3". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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