Rebuilding The Temple
Updated: Feb 21, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and olive oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia. In the second month of the second year after their arrival at the house of God in Jerusalem, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jozadak and the rest of the people (the priests and the Levites and all who had returned from the captivity to Jerusalem) began the work. They appointed Levites twenty years old and older to supervise the building of the house of the Lord. Joshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers – all Levites – joined together in supervising those working on the house of God. (Ezra 3:7-9)
The Jews who have returned from exile didn’t wait to start rebuilding the temple. They quickly hired the necessary labour and made arrangements to import the raw materials required. This took a few months, and by the second month of the second year after their arrival, they started the rebuilding.
Considering that they needed to settle themselves down after relocating to a new land, the size of the rebuilding project, the number of people they needed to hire and the vast amount of building materials required, they worked incredibly fast. They didn’t delay in rebuilding the Temple of God.
Do we delay in rebuilding our Temple?
There are times when we stray away from God. We may still come to church, but it has become more like a routine. We don’t become evil of course, but we compromise on our righteousness and allow ourselves the pleasures of some ‘pet’ sins. Our Bible studies and prayers don’t impact us anymore. We’ve lost our desire for God, and we need to rebuild our Temple.
We may be in small ministry groups that need strengthening. Some brothers and sisters in the group struggle spiritually, and they affect us too. The group may lack zeal, direction or unity, or even all of the above and more. Do we get discouraged or do we get determined? Do we wait for someone else to do something, or do we decide to make a difference? We need to rebuild our Temple.
Of course there may be excuses. We’ve got urgent things that distract us, and personal problems to deal with. But the Jews had many pressing things to settle, and that didn’t stop them at all. Or we may sometimes feel ill equipped and believe someone else more capable should do it. But some of the Levites were only 20 years old, and they were appointed to SUPERVISE others, on the super important job of rebuilding the Temple.
When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; His love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:10-13)
When the builders laid the foundation of the Temple, everyone sang praises and thanksgiving to God. It was a moving scene; tens of thousands of people praising God together. It was also a confusing cacophony of noises; the older people wept aloud while the younger generation shouted for joy.
The older people remembered the beauty and majesty of the old Temple. Solomon had spared no expense when he built it. They must also have remembered the horrors of war – the many killed, the burning Temple and their exile to foreign lands. It was an emotional and bittersweet moment for them. The younger generation had neither seen the Temple’s former glory nor experienced the horrors. To them, this was a joyous celebration.
These differences in experiences served to help the people. The older Jews could inspire the younger ones with stories of a glorious time, when God blessed them in incredible ways. They could also teach the younger ones about the consequences of their sins. Both the older and younger generations had also experienced God’s faithfulness together, when Cyrus allowed them to return to their land and rebuild the Temple.
As our church matures, the older Christians and the younger ones will have very different experiences too. The older ones may remember the “good old days” and reminisce of amazing victories. Or they may sometimes remember the “old scars” when things went wrong and people got hurt too. The younger ones however, are glad to enjoy the blessings that the church is able to provide them now.
The different experiences of the older and younger Christians add to the richness of the church. The mature Christians can inspire the younger ones with incredible faith stories and warn them of mistakes that were made in the past. But the future of the church lies in the hands of the younger generation, and it is they who will grow the church to God’s glory.
It takes all of us to rebuild God’s Temple.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.