Rebuild the Temple? Why?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22

22 In the first year of Persia’s King Cyrus, to carry out the Lord’s promise spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord moved Persia’s King Cyrus to issue the following proclamation throughout his kingdom, along with a written decree:

23 This is what Persia’s King Cyrus says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the earth’s kingdoms and has instructed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you belong to God’s people, let them go up, and may the Lord their God be with them! (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Common English Bible)

Christian tradition credits Ezra and Nehemiah with authoring 2 Chronicles. So, this chapter is the sack of Jerusalem. It is the destruction of the temple. It is the beginning of the exile.

This is tough stuff folks. Jeremiah had warned the Israelites this day was coming. In the full Journey Through Scripture reading for today we see God allowed Persia’s King Cyrus to literally destroy Jerusalem. The city walls were torn down. The King’s palaces were burned. Lots of people died at the hands of the Persians. Those that didn’t die were either left for dead our carried away to exile in Persia. They would be slaves of the Persians. And, as if all that were not enough, the temple was completely destroyed and all things of value were removed with it. If there was anything in the city it was either carried off as plunder from the battle or the Persioans destroyed it.

Then in the much shorter lesson for today, King Cyrus is about to undo what he just did. When we read it, it seems like about 15 minutes have passed and King Cyrus is ready to undo the very thing he just did. He is ready to rebuild the temple.

Why would Ezra and Nehemiah think rebuilding the temple was such a big deal? As for King Cyrus, God told him to rebuild, he is just being obedient. What is the deal with Ezra and Nehemiah. It isn’t like they are in Jerusalem to use the temple anyway. The same could be said for most citizens of Jerusalem. Why the big deal?

We can sum it up in one word, HOPE. The Jews believed the temple was the place where one could find the presence of God. Without the temple, they couldn’t see God and if you can’t see God, if you think God isn’t there, there is no hope.

God was giving the people a sign. The sign from God says, “I am still with you. I am right here. In the end, everything will work out.” God was giving the people a clear sign of hope. In the rebuilding of the temple was a clear sign of God’s presence.

Without hope, there is only despair. Without hope, what would be the reason to look forward to the future. It would be a life that was only in the moment because there might not be a tomorrow.

God was with them. The very real presence of God was with them. They didn’t need a temple for that. They needed a temple to represent that and give them hope. Through the rebuilding of the temple God told the Israelites, “I am right here.” And, where God is, there is always reason for hope.

Have a great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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