After a few difficult months, love and life have been restored in my heart in the last 6-8 weeks. I can feel myself enjoying the sunshine shining on my face, even on those days that it seems there is little sun. Its a lovely feeling to enjoye restored faith in God and his faithfulness and the love of his hand offering gentleness and hope. The extreme sadness that I once felt is finally clearing.
‘8Now 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. 9And 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.
10And 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. 11And 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. 12But 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,13so 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.’
I love the images of joy and praising that this chapter records. After everything they have been through, God’s people are here praising God for the small steps of rebuilding the temple. Those small steps that become large ones in the threads of God’s work.
I found myself pondering their joy. They have had their lives devastated by exile and war. They’ve had to start over and rebuild their lives from very little. I was humbled when I thought about how much they had been through. And God has carried them through it all. And I think in this moment they could all see His love shining at them, through the small step of this laid foundation for His temple. I also wondered how they could drop everything and just praise God they way that they do. I found my own tears falling and my own joy mingled with those tears as I read to end of this passage. Particularly the verses about the old fathers of the people who had seen the building of the first temple and how they wept when they saw this new one taking root. I’m sure they spent many years wondering just what God was up to, trying to hold onto their faith when they felt like God was silent. I could imagine them standing there, old eyes leaking tears down their weathered cheeks. The indescribable joy flooding their hearts that all they can do is weep, for no words can describe the depth of their joy.
Builders don’t normally rejoice at the laying of a foundation of the house. Most people drive past, for there is nothing to see yet until the house is built. But the Levites could see this new beginning and what it meant in the scheme of their history.
It was symbolic. Not just of the place to worship God, but of God himself. Of One who carried these people through famine, plague, captivity, war. Who had led them through dark days when their hope had waned. One who stood with them now gazing at the first tangible seeds of his promises being fulfilled. The restoration of their lives built from nothing but grounded on this new foundation they had lain. I think we all have times, some bigger that others, when we have to lay the pieces of our lives before Him and begin again. We have to take those first few small steps forward in joy and faith, knowing that NOTHING ‘…neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38).
A few final thoughts….I love that their joy and weeping is heard from afar. I think it shows that our lives can impact people through our tears and our joys no matter how small or insignificant we think we are. For we are precious earthen vessels of His hope and our joy spills over into the lives of others.