About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 3
1 tells us that seven months after the Jews settled into their new homes
they gathered “as one man” in Jerusalem. I think Ezra wants
us to know and understand the unity that these Jews had as they gathered
in Jerusalem. They were “as one
man”. They were united in
goal and purpose. They had
returned to their homeland to rebuild the temple, and they were excited
about what they were now ready to do.
course, being “as one man” is what New Testament thinking is all
about in reference to church. Jesus’
prayer in John 17 is all about us being united in this oneness,
something that is seldom seen in the church.
many instances, if not most, God’s people, whether Jews in Old
Testament times, or the church in New Testament times, start out with
all kinds of devotion, enthusiasm and unity.
Sad to say, all this tends to fade away as it did with the Jews
in Ezra’s day.
2 mentions two men. One man
was name Jeshua and he was the high priest.
The other man was Zerubabbel.
He was the chief of the civil government in Jerusalem. We see how both the civil and religious government worked together on
2 also tells us that the first thing the Jews would build would be the
altar of God so they could worship their God.
Before building the foundation to the temple or anything else,
the most important thing to these men was a place of worship, a place
where they could offer their sacrifices.
thing we note from verse 2 is that they would build the altar exactly as
the Law of Moses said it was to be built.
God was very exact in His instructions to Moses in how the
original tabernacle should be built.
3 states that “despite
their fear of the peoples around them” they built the altar and
offered their sacrifices. The Jews lived in a time of “Polytheistic
religion”. This means that
all other cultures believed in multiple gods.
Jews believed in one God. Partly
for this reason the Jews might have had some fear.
Also for the reason that they’re returning to a land where they
had not been for seventy years. They
were settling in land that others had occupied.
4 tells us that after offering the morning and evening sacrifices, they
celebrated the “Feast of Tabernacles”.
The Feast of Tabernacles
was the fourth annual festival that the Jews celebrated.
(2 Chron. 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Zech. 14:16)
It was also called
the feast of ingathering. (Ex. 23:16; 34:22)
Its observance combined the ingathering of the labor of the field
(Ex. 23:16), the fruit of the earth (Lev. 23:39), the ingathering of the
threshing floor and winepress (Deut. 16:13), and the dwelling in booths
or tents, which were to be joyful reminders to
Verse 5 and 6 tell us
that after the Feast of Tabernacles was over, they began to offer all
the sacrifices that the Law of Moses required.
Verse 7 tells us that the
money and goods that were given in the last chapter didn’t end there.
They continued to give in support of their building project.
Cyrus even ordered that cedar from
In verse 8 we see two
names mentioned. As stated
earlier, Zerubbabel was a civic leader, while Jeshua was a priest.
All Levites over the age of twenty years of age were appointed
leaders and overseers of the building project.
The Levites were important in the building of the temple because
the temple had to be built the way in which Scripture said it should be
built, and the Levites were the teachers and priest who knew of these
instructions. Verse 9
gives additional names to these men.
In verses 10 and 11 we
note that the foundation to the temple was now laid.
Once this part was complete, the Levites led the people in
singing of praise to their God as David once did.
We note here that worship and praise as seen in singing songs is
important to these people. Of
course, the foundation to any building is important, and in this case it
was important as well.
We note that the first
thing these Jews built was the altar, then the foundation.
That was their priority. And
a good priority it is. Worship
and service at the altar is more important than the building that
surrounds the altar.
Note the song they sang.
It goes like this in verse 11, “He (God) is good and His love to Israel
endures forever”. This is
in stark contrast to how the Jews felt some 80 years later when Malachi
prophesied that the Jews did not believe that God loved them.
God, in Malachi 1 had to explain to them how and why He did
indeed love Israel.
The was great joy among
the people at this occasion. In
unison, they gave out a “great shout”.
The unity, the joy, the commitment was still in the hearts and
lives of the Jews at this point, but this would not last.
Verse 12 tells us that
there were some people there that were still alive from the days before
the exile. These people must
have been quite old. They
were in exile for 70 years, but they could also remember the old temple.
These people had to have been in their late 80’s or maybe even
90 plus years old. These
people wept aloud. You can
certainly understand their feelings.
This would have reminded them of the old days, when they once
came to the temple in their youth. We
often do the same as Christians today.
Older Christians often remember the days of their youth that
brings back many fond memories.
Verse 13 tells us that
there was so much sound from both the shouts of joy and the weeping that
you could not notice the difference.
They blended into each other.
This sure was one very loud and noisy occasion.