After 70 years of exile from their land, the people of Israel returned with Ezra, after the edict to rebuild the Temple was signed by Cyrus the Great. The Babylonian exile occurred because the kings of Judah, the priests and the people became idolatrous. They strayed far from the Lord and had to be punished for breaking their covenant. But God in His grace determined to bring His people back after the 70 years - as we read in the books of Jeremiah and Daniel.
The first thing the priests and people did, was to set up an altar in Jerusalem, restore the daily sacrifice and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Israel had a covenant relationship with God and the re-instituting of the sacrifices, feasts, Mosaic Law and Temple worship were necessary, if they were to honour the Lord and obey His word.
Rebuilding the Temple was vital if Israel were to keep God's covenant and remain in fellowship with Him, and so the foundations of the Temple were laid, amidst much rejoicing. "Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD according to the directions of King David of Israel".
There was obviously much enthusiasm when this building project began. The people gave willingly of their time, money, food and drink to pay for the artisans and stone-cutters.. and to purchase oil and other necessities from the people of Sidon and Tyre. They rejoiced as they brought the cedar wood from Lebanon and Joppa, as promised by Cyrus.
David had left very specific instructions about Temple worship and how to praise the Lord, with trumpets and cymbals. And so the priests, dressed in their priestly robes and blew their trumpets, while the Levites, who were descended from Asaph, sounded their cymbals, and took their positions to praise the Lord... just as King David of Israel had instructed.
The sacrifice of personal praise and the uniting together for public worship is a vital part of spiritual renewal and growth. David had discovered this to be so in his lifetime and these returning Israelites chose to follow in his footsteps. It must have been a wonderful sight to see the people of God worshipping the Lord and exalting His name in the holy city of Jerusalem, with psalms and spiritual songs - praising Him with outstretched hands.
These people of God sent a wonderful example, as they sang songs of praise and gave thanksgiving to God. 'The Lord, He is good" they sang together, "His faithful love to Israel endures forever.” It must have been a wonderful sight when "all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid".
The Temple played an important role during the pre-cross, dispensation of Israel and it will continue to do so in the Millennial kingdom of Christ. Today, the Temple of God is equally important, but not the one constructed of hewn stones and decorated with great pillars and glorious ornaments, as in Solomon's day. Today... the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is a spiritual Temple that is not made with human hands.
Paul reminds us that today, in this Church dispensation, WE are the Temple of God. Our mortal body is the dwelling place of the Holy Ghost, Who permanently indwells each one, who has been saved by grace through faith... for God said, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people'.
In his letter to the Ephesians, we are reminded that we are the Temple, both individually and collectively, for we are all part of the same building, and are being fitted together, as we grow into a holy dwelling place, in the Lord. Peter calls us "living stones' --- living stones, who are built up a spiritual temple, and in Christ we have become a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ.
But a day is coming when Christ will return as Israel's King and He will rebuild His Millennial Temple in the city of God, and together... ALL God's people will praise the Lord with trumpets, cymbals and great rejoicing, as did these saints in the days of Ezra.
PRAYER: Dear heavenly Father, we praise and thank You that You are a good and faithful God, Who keeps His promises to both Israel and the Church. Thank You for the example of the priests and people in Ezra's day, who laid the foundation of the Temple of God, and blew their trumpets and sounded their cymbals to praise and honour Your holy name. Thank You that in this dispensation of grace, I am a living stone in Your spiritual Temple. Thank You that I have the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead and guide in all things. I pray that I would never cease to honour Your name in thought, word, and deed and to praise You day and night, for You alone are worthy - in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
GOD BLESS YOU.