Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016? I do. I was shouting for joy at the election of Donald Trump as America’s President. I can also still remember the videos of crowds hysterically crying as though America had been destroyed. About half of our nation was shouting for joy, the other half was in mourning.
Move forward 4 years, to Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. That day the hysterical mourners were filled with joy and those who had been full of joy in 2016, were broken hearted, but not hysterically weeping. That is how nations can be weeping and joyful at the same time.
In the Bible, such an occasion occurred in Ezra 3:10-13.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” “And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.”
The Israelites had just returned to Jerusalem following their God-sent 70 year captivity. They immediately built the Altar of the LORD so they could offer the appropriate sacrifices to their God. Then they laid the foundation of the Temple, the House of the LORD. Then the Israelites thought it was PARTY TIME. Well, for some of them. Notice that most were joyful, but some were weeping. What can we learn from their joy and tears?
First, it was the older folks who could remember Solomon’s Temple who were weeping and wailing. They knew this foundation could not compare to the first one. And if the foundation couldn’t compare, then the yet to be built Temple would most certainly pale in comparison to Solomon’s. Maybe they were crying that this Temple would be missing the Ark of the Covenant, the Shekinah glory, the Urim and Thummim, etc. Note: their weeping and wailing was as loud as the joyful shouting.
Second, it was therefore the younger ones, who knew nothing of Solomon’s Temple, who were so loudly joyful over the foundation of the second Temple; not even the second Temple, but just the foundation. They were so impressed with such a tiny, second class accomplishment.
The younger Israelites could have been blessed by learning from the old folks in Ezra 3, by asking them why they were weeping and then learning from their answers. The same is true today. Take a moment to ask some of the old folks why they tear up when they watch today’s news, why they hurt when they see today’s America. It won’t cost you but a few moments. Just ask them why they cry over America; ask them what they remember that causes so many tears and heartache. They cry for the same reasons the old folks cried and wailed in Ezra 3. Learn from what they remember. They cry over their memories of what America used to be.
Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at email@example.com.
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