The people have returned to the land of Judah and Jerusalem. After getting settled in their homes their attention turns to the altar of their God.
Without even a building to house the ‘church’ the people gathered to worship the Lord. When Cyrus sent the people back to their homes in Israel, the one specific task he had in mind was the rebuilding of the Tabernacle. The one Solomon had built was completely reduced to rubble when Nebuchadnezzar razed the city. Rebuilding would require starting from scratch. And this would take some time.
The people wanted to worship the Lord for all He had done for them. They were not about to repeat the sins of their ancestors by worshiping God wherever and however they chose. They didn’t want to anger Him and risk another lengthy captivity. They decided to do it God’s way, to the best of their abilities.
First things first. They needed an altar to make the required sacrifices to the Lord. I’m not certain but it sounds like they constructed the altar according to the plans given by Moses. This was a MUCH smaller version of the one Solomon installed in the Temple. It would have been ‘tent sized’ to fit the Tabernacle.
ALL of the returnees were present for the first sacrifice offered on the new altar. We are told “the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem” (verse 1b). They had a LOT to be thankful for and wanted to do EVERYTHING just as God had prescribed in His Law.
One of the big reasons why the returnees wanted to get things set in order with the Lord is because of the people who remained in the land. The people who had been left behind at the time of Judah’s captivity and those who had moved into the land that was unoccupied were a threat to this band of returnees. A promise that they banked on was that the Lord would protect His people who sought Him with all their heart. They needed this favor to feel safe and be safe. I’m going to bet that they also believed that this was a way to draw their brothers who had remained in the land back to the Lord.
Building or no building, God’s people kept ALL of His commandments for sacrifices. The twice daily sacrifices, the Sabbath sacrifices, the New Moon sacrifices, and all the appointed feast days. And to solve the building issue, they brought freewill offerings to be used to reconstruct the Temple.
As I was thinking about this dedication of the people, the Spirit spoke to my spirit. What I heard was “Start where you are at, no matter where that is, and build from there.” This can be applied to all aspects of our lives. The one who wants a greater prayer life but can’t seem to pray beyond blessing the meal; pray for every meal and mean it with your whole heart. The one who wants to serve in the church but has trouble getting to church on time; work on punctuality and regular attendance with a joyful heart. The one who wants to be a bible scholar but knows only a few verses; dig into the word for your personal study and read the stories with an open heart. Whatever it is your heart longs to do, start where you are and build a foundation. Then begin building on that foundation until you see the work the Lord planned for you taking shape.
We will NEVER be done ‘building’ until we take our final breath but that doesn’t mean our work won’t be useful along the way. Even a lean to structure can provide shelter from the rain. Never be afraid to share the work God is doing in you. You never know who it might inspire to ‘build’ something of their own.
Father God, thank You for letting me share my ‘lean to’ with others. I am NOT a bible scholar but I enjoy sharing what You share with me. I pray it blesses others and always gives honor to You. For my dream of one day being a published author, thank You for giving me this forum to start off in. Thank You for letting me tell some of Your stories. WHEN the time comes to put them all together, PLEASE guide the whole process from start to finish. Until then, help me hear Your heart in the stories I read and share them in the style You have allowed me to before.