When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. 4 And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, 5 and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord. 6 From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid. 7 So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.
8 Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the Lord. 9 And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.
10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,
“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever 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. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. Read Ezra 3 and summarize the story line in 1-2 sentences. What was the first thing the people did when they arrived in Jerusalem after coming out of exile? (1, also 2:70) After the people had settled into their homes and towns, what was the first structure they built? (2) The second? (10)
2. What does verse 1 mean when it says the people gathered “as one man“? In what aspects can the church come together “as one man” when we meet for worship or do Kingdom work? Who led the way in rebuilding the altar (2-3) and what were their positions of leadership over the people?
3. In verses 2-6, what do the phrases “as it is written in the Law of Moses” (2), “as it is written,” and “according to the rule” (4), mean? How do the people’s actions in these verses show that their worship was guided by Scripture and carried out in obedience to it? How do the altar and the sacrifices point us to Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross? Consider the worship service at your church. Are all aspects of the service guided by Scripture and carried out in obedience to it? Does your worship service center around Christ and the cross?
4. Considering the spiritual significance of the first temple, why would it have been important to rebuild the temple? Compare verses 8-10 with Luke 6:46-49. What are some parallels between Israel laying the foundation of the temple according to God’s word and the foundation of our faith today being obedience to Christ and His word?
5. Compare verses 11-13 with 2 Chronicles 7:1-10. What are some of the similarities and differences between the people’s response to completion of Solomon’s temple and their response to the laying of the foundation of the post-exilic temple? (Especially compare v. 11 with 7:3 and v. 12-13 with 7:10). Was there any weeping at the completion of Solomon’s temple? Why would the “old men” have been weeping in verses 11-12? Recalling all that had happened to Israel between the completion of Solomon’s temple and the laying of the foundation of the post-exilic temple, was there good reason for both joy and weeping? What were those reasons?
6. In what ways could the laying of the foundation of the temple be considered Israel’s being “born again”? Think about…
…how the exile points to our captivity by the enemy and bondage to sin
…how God delivered His people from bondage through Jeshua the high priest, who “made a beginning” (8) of the foundation, and how God delivered us through Yeshua our High Priest who made a beginning – the beginning and the end, the founder and perfecter – of our faith.
…how the people mourned over the sin that had destroyed God’s ideal dwelling yet rejoiced over beginning a new life with Him, delivered and forgiven, and how we do the same when we come to new life in Christ.