June 13, 2018
Ezra 3 records the Israelites celebrating as they finished rebuilding the foundation of the temple in Jerusalem. That beautiful building was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar when he conquered Jerusalem and took the people captive to Babylonia. As prophesied by Jeremiah, the Israelites were allowed to return to their land 70 years later.
As the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid, the people took time to “praise and give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is upon Israel forever” (Ezra 3:11). What interests me is the next statement. As the celebration progressed, probably led by the younger people, the older ones were crying. They remembered what the temple used to look like and knew that the rebuild would never match it.
There is an abundance of typical human reaction in these few statements. Since we do life as families, there is always the potential for conflict as generations try to balance vision with experience. In Jerusalem that day, there were younger people who probably said, “We are back in the land; now we can rebuild our place of worship.” They had not seen the earlier temple, so comparison was not an issue.
But for the older people, who remembered how the structure once stood as a masterpiece of design and construction, this project did not bring the same joy. The “good old days” overshadowed the present reality. Since life needs the perspective of age and the vision of youth, the celebration seems to have an appropriate balance of memory and anticipation.
When generations can respect each other and work together on worthy projects, many mistakes can be avoided through the wisdom of age while the energy of youth can take appropriate risks. Because of our commitment to Jesus, we should be able to celebrate accomplishment together – with laughter and through tears.
Pastor Bill Ehmann