"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Weeping and Singing and Forgetting His Kingdom

Have you ever been in a situation where older people mourn the loss of the way things "used to be"? Are you familiar with the tension between generations over change, when young people rejoice with excitement over the future while at the same time older people mourn with sadness over the past? Sometimes the hardest part of ministry is helping both older and younger generations understand that God is more interested in us building His kingdom than He is with us resting in our comforts.

The people of God living in Judah went through traumatic changes. In 586 B.C. the Temple of God in Jerusalem was literally demolished and burnt to the ground by Nebuchadnezzar (II Kings 24). Built by Solomon four hundred years earlier with no expense spared, and dedicated to God by the Israelites with great pomp and ceremony (II Chronicles 7), the Temple in Jerusalem had been at the center of Jewish identity. When it disappeared, the Jews were taken into captivity by the Babylonians where the Jews "hung their harps in the willow trees" (Psalm 137:2). They'd rather the wind vibrate their stringed instruments because there were no more songs in their hearts.

After seventy years of exile, God raised up the Persian King Cyrus, who conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. and let the Jews return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and their Temple (Ezra 1). Within two short years, the Jews laid the foundation for the new Temple. In Ezra 3 we read the different responses of the old men and of the young men when they laid the final foundation stone of the new temple:
"Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord... people sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, saying, “For He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever.” And the young people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many others shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away."(vs. 10-13).
The old people wept and wailed while the young people celebrated and sang.

Why did the old people weep?  They remembered the first temple, and the second temple wasn't like the first (Ezra 3:12). Here were some of the differences between the two temples:
1. The footprint of the foundation of the second temple was much smaller than the footprint of the first.
2. The appearance of the second temple was much plainer - no silver and gold in it - than the fabulous appearance of the first temple which glittered with gold and silver. 
3. Everything associated with second temple - whether it was the amount of sacrifice, the number of priests, or the people who gathered - when compared to the era of the first temple was much lesser in grander, influence and power. 
Smaller. Plainer. Lesser.

Why did the young people celebrate and sing? They were excited about the future! They had no memory of the past. Most of the young were born in a culture that was pagan (Babylon), and just the ability to dance and sing to God in freedom was enough to bring tears to their eyes.

However, the old people who were at first sad, soon got mad. They stopped working on the temple of God. "If we can't do it the way we remember it, then we aren't participating at all."

When the young people saw their elders lose interest in the work of God, they turned to the Samaritans for help. The Samaritans were "enemies of God" (Ezra 4:1-2). As one might expect, the Samaritans provided no help in building the temple. Instead, they sought to destroy Judah from within. When the young people of Judah finally saw the Samaritan threat for what it was, they spent so much time fighting the Samaritans, they left the temple of God unfinished.

For 18 years, the old people of Judah and the young people of Judah took the wood they were going to use as framework for the temple of God, and instead they paneled the walls of their own houses (Haggai 1:4). The people of God would rather sit in comfort and security in their own houses than work together for the Kingdom.  The temple was left unfinished.

Enter the prophet Haggai.

In August of 520 B.C. Haggai, inspired by God, told the people to "give careful thought to what they were doing" (Haggai 1:5). In an attempt to only do those things comfortable and secure for themselves (e.g. "living in paneled houses," and "seeking their own comfort"), they have neglected the Kingdom.

Haggai's prophetic word "stirred up the spirits" of the old and the young, the governor of Judah (Zerubbabel), and the high priest (Haggai 1:14). They began to work together for the Lord.

But even after they began to build the framework of the temple on the foundation they had established 18 years earlier, the older people still complained  (Haggai 2).

1. "Lord, we have no gold and silver like when we built You the first Temple!"
2. "Lord, this temple is really, really different than the first one we built You!"
3. "Lord, we don't like what we are seeing; it's not the way it used to be!"

God interrupted their complaining by giving to Haggai three additional prophecies (see Haggai 2). The Lord gives the people a promise:
"On that day" (Haggai 2:23), - a day which refers to the coming of Messiah, the son of Zerubbabel (see Matthew 1:12) -  "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:9)
Haggai 2 is probably my favorite chapter in the entire Old Testament. In Haggai's encouragement to the people to build the second temple in Jerusalem, he tells them that the Messiah will do something far greater, far grander, far more glorious than anything seen in the days of the first temple.

God will bring peace to sinners through Zerubbabel's descendant, the Messiah, who will create a temple far more glorious than Solomon's.

For we know that "we ourselves are God's temple, and the Spirit of God dwells in us" (I Corinthians 3:16).

APPLICATION:

If you are weeping over the loss of buildings, programs, and traditions of the past, and because of this sadness you sit in your home and seek personal comforts, then you are guilty of the sin of the old people of Judah. Leave your paneled walls and seek His Kingdom. You seem to have lost your perspective. It is far more glorious when a sinner finds peace with God through Good News of Jesus Christ than remembering the glorious days of Levitical singers performing on the gold encrusted steps of the former temple.

Likewise, if you are celebrating and singing because you are unaware of the traditions of the past, and you're are simply rejoicing over freedom to build His Kingdom, be aware that the Samaritans lay in wait to trap you into believing that they can offer you help by blending what the world cherishes with God's Kingdom. Come out, you young people of God, and be separate from the Samaritans who worship many gods.

Let's build the Kingdom together.

33 comments:

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Thank you for a very perceptive article.
" be aware that the Samaritans lay in wait to trap you into believing that they can offer you help by blending what the world cherishes with God's Kingdom."
They come in many religious guises!

Rex Ray said...

Wade, Wade, Wade,

That’s usually the way one is addressed who is liked but in the wrong. :)

Your APPLICATION states “…then you are guilty of the sin of the old people of Judah.”

You state: The old people…got mad. They stopped working on the temple of God. Then you put in quotes: “If we can’t do it the way we remembered it, then we aren’t participating at all.”

None of that is found in the Bible.

You quote Haggai to condemn old people and list three quotes of their complaining. that is only found in your imagination.

In reality Haggai condemned ALL the people: “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” (Haggai 1:2)

If anything, Haggai honored OLD people: “Does anyone remember this house—this Temple—in its former splendor?” (Haggai 2:3)

Not because I’m old, but I believe Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach spoke wisdom in saying, “In youth we learn; in age we understand.”

I’ll conclude in saying it was not the Old that elected President you know who and it won’t be the Old if she becomes President.

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

The Hebrew "accents" in the original language cause Hebrew interpreters - Christian men like John Gill, and Hebrew (non-Christian) rabbis like Aben Ezra - to say the meaning of Ezra 3 is exactly as I laid out. Here is Gill's commentary on Ezra 3:;12.

Verse 12. But many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men,.... Seventy or eighty years of age:

that had seen the first house; the temple built by Solomon, as they very well might, since then it had been destroyed but fifty two years; for the seventy years captivity are to be reckoned from the fourth of Jehoiakim, when it began, and which was eighteen years before the destruction of the temple; the beginning of the next clause,

when in the foundation, according to the Hebrew accents, is to be connected with this,

that had seen the first house; not when first founded, for that was five hundred years ago, but in "its foundation"; they saw it standing upon its foundation, in all its glory, and so the Septuagint version; and we may read on, when

this house was before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; seeing what it was like to be by the foundation now laid, and was in their sight as nothing in comparison of the former; see Haggai 2:3 but Aben Ezra connects this clause as we do,

when the foundation of this house was laid; not but that the dimensions of this house strictly taken were as large as the former: see Ezra 6:3, but not the courts and appendages to it: besides, what might affect them, there was no likelihood of its being so richly decorated with gold and silver as the former temple, and many things would be wanting in it, as the Urim and Thummim, &c.

and many shouted aloud for joy; of the younger sort, who had never seen the grandeur of the first temple, and were highly delighted with the beginning of this, and the hope of seeing it finished.

Wade Burleson said...

One final thought, Rex...

When you read Haggai 1:1, you know the EXACT year the Jews were challenged to pick up re-building the Temple (520 B.C.) - the second year of Darius.

When you read Ezra 3, you know the time is 538 B.C. (months after Cyrus let the Jews go).

For 18 years the foundation was laid, but the Jews stopped working on the temple. You and I may argue over the REASONS why they stopped, but there is no denial they did stop.

Human nature tells me if someone is weeping because they don't like something, and that something STOPS (the building of the Temple), then the reason they stopped is because they've gone from being sad to being mad.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Yes, the work stopped for 18 years. The real reason the work was stopped is recorded by SCRIPTURE in Ezra chapter 4, and restarted in chapter 6.

“King Artaxerxes sent this reply: “Issue orders to have these men stop their work…with a show of strength, they forced the Jews to stop building. So the work on the Temple of God in Jerusalem had stopped, and it remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia” (Ezra 4:17, 21, 23, 24)

King Darius: ”Let the Temple be rebuilt…Those who violate this decree in any way will have a beam pulled from their house. Then they will be tied to it and flogged, and their house will be reduced to a pile of rubble…The temple was completed on March 12, during the sixth year of King Darius’s reign.” (Ezra 6:3,11,15)

Wade, do you think we should argue over the reason why the work was stopped?

I’ll give an example of actions from sad to mad. My aunt in her 60’s was sad that her kitchen was small. Her husband promised their new house would have a bigger kitchen, but it didn’t. She cashed his lifelong collection of coins at the bank.

Wade Burleson said...

Wow - your aunt truly was mad.

And, the cash she received for the collection was probably face value compared of the coins compared to the real value!

Ouch.

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

“Ouch” is right.

After a week visiting her daughter, the daughter said, “Mama, what’s wrong; you never stay this long away from Dad?”

“I left a note the bank had his coin collection and I’m giving him time to cool off.”

Uncle Al was a character…not a Baptist and believed Hell was waiting for those who smoked cigarettes. Once, my brother-in-law, Jim, visited them and had ‘won’ a debate on some Bible scripture. In retaliation, Al thumped the bulge in Jim’s shirt, and said, “If you get rid of that, the Lord could teach you something!”

Jim said, “What! Get rid of the Word of God?” while removing a New Testament.

Dave Panzera said...

Wade this offer of yours conjured up several things for today's applications to me.

First among them is generational shift and perspective. I think we have all heard how our parents all went to school 4 miles, up hill both ways, in snow...and on and on! In addition to that the proclamations as to how "music has changed!" and what they call music today is not music at all. Or how about what "real work" is and is not? These are humorous for sure, they have their place in life as a way to learn and grow and appreciate.

However, then there is the more important one. That of principles and moral absolutes that never change and never should change. They anchor humanity to the Lord of all creation in a way that always allows us to come back to the standard and constantly measure ourselves and our lives by.

Your post shows how we will act as humans in missing the bigger picture because we have become either a slave to an old way or have invented (for ourselves) that our "way" is God's way. Yet, is we "abide in Him", He has told us that He will abide in us. While we may always have an affinity for the way we have done some things, in Him, trusting fully in Him, we will not fear the new thus not missing the forest for the trees as God reveals great things to us as we abide in Him.

I turned 50 this past August...I am the "old man" in my flying squadron (along with a few others) I am not as hip, not as in touch with Lady Gaga or the latest sitcom, but I can say that I am fully engaged in the new ways of doing business as a military flying unit. I am often teaching the younger how to use the DOD issued I-Pad, the new toys for flying and new procedures. Yet, like the elders of the article you wrote, I lament many lost things too. You know my passion for early American History and our nations Godly founding...it is to the loss of what that is and what that means and what that cost us in this present generation that has my tears.

Thanks for the perspective you brought to me today.

Christiane said...

REX RAY .... one of your best stories ever .... thank you! LOL

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

You are always so kind.

Christiane said...

Hi REX RAY,
I know a good story when I see it. You write great ones!

BTW, my prayers go out to the people of OK who are undergoing earthquake phenomena. I have come to believe that fracking is connected to the quake outbreak in recent years; and I did see this posted in Bloomberg:
"The region, previously not known for intense seismic activity, began having a significant number of earthquakes in 2009, the same year area oil companies began using fracking to shatter deep rock layers to extract oil and gas. Fracked wells produce large quantities of wastewater, which drilling companies inject into ultra-deep disposal wells."

May God keep everyone safe.

Chris Riley said...

Apathy kills as well as unbridled passion. There is serious thought that needs to be ruminated on.

RRR said...

Wade,
Perhaps I am taking this out of perspective, but the message seems to possibly have implications relative to a sermon I heard Andy Stanley preaching recently. He said something to the effect, and I paraphrase, "You old people STOP saying bad things about our current situation and telling the younger people how bad everything is. You are scaring them!"
I thought about that. True, we old people are dismayed at the trend of things in our world and particularly in the US. We do indeed relate it to the old "temple", the way things were. At the same time, old people inject a sense of wisdom and insight that comes with experience and hopefully, relate "change" in perspective as to God's "plumb line" and how far we move from His "mark".

I see the danger of we old people insisting that things not change and remain the same due to nostalgia and resistance to adapting. At the same time, I believe the old people of God today also serve in a sense as Old Testament prophets who boldly warned the people about the pitfalls of dancing with the devil and defying God.

Rex Ray said...

ELECTION DAY

“…we had four dead Americans…What difference at this point does it make?”

The “difference” explained by:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/c0741677-345d-377c-83e5-517914ac94cb/benghazi-guards-turned-on-us.html

1, Stevens asked for a machine gun vs. it would upset the locals.

2. Stevens 600 security request vs. his hired protection guards helped kill him.

3. Their identities are known vs. not prosecuted.

4. Truth vs. Hillary cover-up

ScottShaver said...

Christiane:

With all due respect. I work in the O&G industry and I'm afraid you know little to nothing about the true story behind "fracs" in the technology of oil and gas production. By the way, it might surprise you to know that this operation of releasing trapped hydrocarbons has been around (less advanced) for a long long time.

If it were not for the production of natural gas liquids and crude oil, you wouldn't have the laptop you're expressing your opinion with, a lot of the clothes you wear as well as the roads upon which you travel hither and yon.

Why do you think God put the stuff here? Please at least come with an informed opinion.

ScottShaver said...

By the way Christianne, again with as much respect as I can muster..."Bloomberg" is about readers and advertisements and social platforms....not so much about the things and operations that really make your life what it is in the west, primarily, the development and use of natural resources.

Prove to me where either The Bible or God himself has forbidden the utilization of that which He provides on earth.

Rex Ray said...

OBAMA BEAT HILLARY TWICE!

Christiane said...

Hi Scott,
I cannot retract anything. Especially my great concern for the population of a state now experiencing earthquake phenomenon at a fairly steady rate. The people of Enid OK Baptist Church are dear to me and I keep them in my prayers. If you are in the earthquake region, I will pray for your safety also.

The Bible and modern science are not opposed to one another in my Catholic religion, so I may see sacred Scripture differently from your viewpoint. No sense 'arguing' over what is a difference in perspective, but I am one who 'listens'.

I will check other sources that I respect on the topic also.

Christiane said...

REX RAY .... hello out there in Trumpland!!!!

calm down, calm down ... don't get over-excited by all this political hoop-la, it's bad for your constitution (no pun intended)

remain peaceful and take care of yourself .... all shall be well someday in the Kingdom of Our Lord

Rex Ray said...

CHRISTIANE,

Hey! Your “Trumpland” reminds me of the beautiful song “Beulah Land”.

I believe “God Bless America” will improve with the absence of a ‘toothpick’ in the White House, money to Iran, and “pay to play”.

IMHO, I believe Obama spoke his greatest words of wisdom a few minutes ago, “The sun will come up in the morning.” (The glory of his legacy has set.)

Rex Ray said...

“Hillary Couldn't Stop Crying, Told Friend She Blames Comey and Obama For Loss”

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsmax-Tv/ed-klein-hillary-clinton-crying-election/2016/11/09/id/758084/

This probably explains why Hillary’s supporters left without hearing a ‘Thank you’ from her.

ScottShaver said...

Christiane:

Nobody has suggested that you retract your concern for the people of Oklahoma. I have suggested that you bone-up on O&G production technology before you start assigning spiritual demerits to an industry upon which you rely far more heavily for your way of life than you realize.

ScottShaver said...

Christianne:

You are aware that the state of Oklahoma sits upon major seismic fault lines huh?

Rex Ray said...

PS
I think Hillary might have added one more person…her husband.

Christiane said...

Hi Scott,
I'm not one to go to the industry that profits from fracking in order to get scientific information about a phenomenon that has increased exponentially since that industry has begun its work. I don't think that is very wise, all things considered. I'm very sorry for the people that are trapped financially who work in the industry .... they may be aware of cause/effect but they need to put food on the table, too. Not so the profiteers who harvest billions in a high-risk situation. I have no sympathy for the profiteers. None. Nor the politicians, nor the lobbyists who feed off those profits indirectly.

I don't mind going to some 'disinterested' sources in order to seek out scientific information, no. Not at all.



ScottShaver said...

Christiane: Don't believe I suggested anything about WHERE you get informed (i.e sources). All I suggested was that you BECOME INFORMED. Your comment about being "trapped financially" in the industry is weird, not sure what it means but it's obvious that you probably get your sources of information now from grant-based research by tree-huggers. You know, the kind of research where the outcome is decided prior to testing data, if there is any data testing.

Whether you realize it or not Christiane, you are as hopelessly dependent on Oil and gas and their byproducts right now than the richest "profiteers". You are a consumer.




Christiane said...

No, SCOTT

I feel for the workers in the industry who make what passes for a living and need to put food on the table;
but I do have utter complete contempt for the corporate profiteers in the oil industry who take risks with people's lives.

I'm not sure why you 'scrambled' what I said, but if you want to communicate, at least read my comment FIRST. It helps the conversational flow. :)



ScottShaver said...

Fair enough Christianne

ScottShaver said...

I guess "complete utter contempt for the corporate profiteers in the oil industry" is an emotion I share for "corporate profiteers" in a lot of "Christian" religious "industries".

ScottShaver said...

Kinda like missions-sending agencies that go millions in the red through extravagant over-spending

Christiane said...

"missions-sending agencies that go millions in the red through extravagant over-spending"

ah, sounds like it was done on-purpose for not-such-good reason(s)
..... the Christian faith requires attention to stewardship where contributions are involved, so if 'extravagant over-spending' was being done, I doubt the people in charge meant it for the good of the missions at all ..... something ELSE was intended (I love a good conspiracy!);
ALSO
the truth is that 'biblically', people were 'sent forth' with little in the way of material provisions, which is not so practical in our day and age but still 'going millions of dollars into debt' doesn't describe the act of real Christian missionary 'administrators', no

why would someone want the overseas missions to fail and set them up to fail by going so far into debt?????

Please tell me I'm wrong about this.

ScottShaver said...

Christianne: You are not wrong, I'm in 100 percent agreement. Ask SBC leaders.that question.

Rex Ray said...

Scott and Christiane,

Sorry I just now read your latest comments.

The reason why the SBC leaders or leader sold their assets and spent money like crazy is because he believed Jesus was returning in a short time; so why have all that money going to waste?