Monday, November 5
God could have used a U-Haul truck when His people were allowed to go back to Jerusalem after being taken captive into Babylon for 70 years. God moved King Cyrus of Persia to allow the repatriation of the Jews back to their home in Jerusalem. There were a lot of people who went , especially those who were from priestly lineage. To find out just how many people went on this journey back to Jerusalem take a calculator and add up the number of people listed in chapter 2 verses 2-65! They also had to pack up all the dishes that were to be used in the house of God that had been previously ransacked from God’s temple in Jerusalem some 70 years before. That’s a lot of people, and things, to move all at once.
When the Jews did return to Jerusalem they began to re-instate the priestly duties of sacrifices even though the foundation of the new temple had not yet been poured. They also began to celebrate their festivals as was their religious custom. Cyrus had agreed to help them build the temple so orders for the cedar wood from Lebanon which was to be used, were issued. The main contractor of this building project was a man by the name of Zerubbabel. His job was to take this pile of rubble and figure out how to help make it into a beautiful place for God’s temple once again. The people were overjoyed when the foundation of the new temple was laid and a celebration was held. Things seemed to be looking up for God’s people but then some of their jealous neighbors in the land began to complain. They sent complaints to Cyrus and the following kings of Persia making up all sorts of claims about the Jews who had returned which were not necessarily true. So, with the distractions of unhappy neighbors in the land, and many hassles and arguments about the rebuilding that the Jews were doing, soon they became discouraged and left the project of rebuilding God’s house undone. Not until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia did the completion of the temple happen.
Having been through a recent cross country move myself what caught my eye was all those dishes that were to be used in God’s temple that had to be transported. 5,400 to be exact! They were made of gold and silver so they would have to be packed very carefully as not to be scratched or broken. This gives dish duty a whole new meaning. In my move a few of my dishes broke. Thinking about this it makes me think of how broken the city was and the temple of God was when the people returned to their beloved city. They must have been excited at first at the prospect of going back, but once there I’m sure that seeing all the brokenness of the city must have been very discouraging.
Think about one of the greatest things God can do — He can fix what is broken. Sometimes we may feel broken , or tossed about by the circumstances in our lives. So did the Jews. The good news is that God can fix what is broken. He helped the Jews to rebuild the temple to Him, and their lives after being exiled for so long – He made them beautiful again. He can help us too by fixing the broken parts of our lives and shaping it into something beautiful. Key thought: Think about how God has helped to fix the broken parts of your life and think about how He chooses to make it beautiful.