But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance. The enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the exiles were rebuilding a Temple to the Lord, the God of Israel. —Ezra 3:12-13-4:1
Read Solomon’s prayer of dedication to the first temple (I Kings 8:22-53; II Chronicles 6:14-42). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIpnW3rtRQ4
The new foundation for the temple was in place and there were those who were joyfully shouting because of it. They were praising God for the new work that He was starting for them. They would have a new temple to worship the Lord God Almighty at. But there were others who wept aloud when they saw the same foundation that was laid for the new temple. These people had seen the first temple, Solomon’s temple and they wept because this temple was not like it from their perspective. Instead of rejoicing over the new work God was doing, they wept over what God had done in the past.
But wait, what is the focus? The building or Whose presence the building represents? In Solomon’s prayer of dedication to the first temple he said, “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (I Kings 8:27; II Chronicles 6:18). It was not the “size and grandeur” of the building that should be the focus, but the “Size and Grandeur” of the Lord God Almighty Whose presence it represented! These people were saddened by the physical aspect of the building while they should have been rejoicing at the presence of the Lord God Almighty which the building represented.
Today, how many times do we get wrapped up in buildings rather than in the Lord God Almighty’s presence which is represented within that building through the people who have truly placed their faith in Him? Everything the Lord desired within the temple had specific ministry purpose, but how many buildings today are filled with clutter.
Elaine and I were at a pastor’s “retirement” celebration this past Saturday. They gave the history of the church and praised God for what He had done, was doing and will do. At one point the statement was made that “The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”
A number of years ago we stopped in Amsterdam on our way to Kenya. We had a few hours and so we went into the city and visited the home of the Franks where The Diary of Anne Frank was written. On our way we passed a massive church structure with a high, heavy gauged fence surrounding it. By a little gate a sign gave the visiting hours for the museum. How sad…
Dear Father, please help us be focused on Your people within the building and the lost whether they are in the building or outside of it. May this be so in the authority of Jesus!