As I read this story, I couldn’t help but ask myself questions about my own faith. Have I ever let my devotion falter to the point of forcing God’s consequences? Am I willing to return to God and allow Him to rebuild and renew my life? Am I celebrating the generosity of God’s people, and am I being generous too? This passage raised many questions in my mind.
The first thing that struck me was the generous offerings of gold, silver, and other materials to support the work of rebuilding. The people gave freely, knowing that the temple’s rebuilding was not just for their benefit but for future generations to come. Their generosity was an act of worship, a way of giving back to the Lord who had called them back home. Do I see my actions as helpful to God’s work? Not just for me, but for generations to come?
It wasn’t just financial support from God’s people; they also worked tirelessly. I think about the resolve of those who returned home with Ezra. The temple was not the only thing being rebuilt; the people themselves were being restored. They had been in exile for so long that they had forgotten who they were as a people, but rebuilding the temple was a reminder of their identity and purpose as God’s chosen people. Two generations or more had passed, and those returning had been waiting for God’s promises. They walked into a city in shambles. Could there have been an air of disappointment? Then again, didn’t they know what they were walking into? The team went home expecting physical exertion to rebuild the city and the temple, but did they expect God to spiritually rebuild His people? That’s exactly what Scripture says in Ezra 3:8: they “began to build.”
Ezra’s leadership and work in Jerusalem were fraught with disagreement and strife. It wasn’t easy. Think about how he had to lead a change in the nation’s decades of bad habits—and even more when taking into account the history of generational sin. When he led a team back home, he was leading them into restoration and renewal. Maybe it’s a little like standing up and stretching off the stiffness of sitting on the floor for a while…except this charge to change has eternal consequences.
The Israelites didn’t have a home for so many years, but God was still working! This is where Ezra came in as a vessel to be used by God: a man whose mission was to return with God’s people to their homeland and return their hearts to God.
We know God’s plan is for His people to be at home with Him in worship. Will you let yours be built up in the same way?