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Ezra 3:10-13



Intro: Because of Israels refusal to abandon their idols and worship the one true God, they were chastened by the Lord and were taken away into captivity by the Babylonians. This captivity was to last 70 years, Jer. 25:11-12. This 70 year period began in 605 B.C., when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar invaded and subjugated Israel. Later, in 586 B.C., after Israel rebelled against him, Nebuchadnezzar completely destroyed Jerusalem, the temple and all the temple furniture. He also carried off all the treasures of the temple at that time. For the next 70 years Israel lived in captivity without a temple and without the feasts, sacrifices and rituals prescribed by the Law. Cyrus the Persian overthrew the Babylonians in 539 B.C. and in 538 B.C gave permission for the Jews to return to their homeland. Almost 50,000 Jews left Babylon and returned to Palestine. Three years later, in 535 B.C, they laid the foundation for a new Temple, thus ending the 70 years of their captivity.

Our text records for us the laying of the foundation for this new temple. For many of the Jews present that day, it was a time of great joy. The Bible says they “shouted aloud for joy,” v. 12. But, others who were there that day could not shout about what they were seeing. Instead, the Bible says, they “wept with a loud voice,” v. 12. Why is it that one group is so excited and is praising the Lord, while the other group is sad and weeping? I believe the Bible holds the answer to that question. I also believe that by answering that question, we will also uncover some very valuable truths for our church today. Today, as the Lord gives liberty, I want to preach on this thought: The Young Men Shouted While The Old Men Wept. God has something here for us, in this passage, if we are willing to receive it today.



A. What They Remembered A group of older men remembered the first temple. They remembered the Grandeur, the Gold and the Glory. They remembered the old days when the temple of the Lord was one of the wonders of the ancient world. They remembered a temple that, if built today, would cost multiple billions of dollars to build. They remembered a temple that housed the Ark of the Covenant and the mercy seat. They remembered that within that Ark were tablets containing the Law of God handed down to Moses. They remembered the Shechinah glory cloud that filled the first temple, 1 Kings 8:8-13; 2 Chron. 5:13-14; 7:1-3. They remembered a day when Solomon’s temple was literally the House of God!

B. What They Realized They understood that this new temple would never be the same, Hag. 2:3. They could see that it would be smaller. They knew that they did not have the resources to rebuild it like it had been all those years ago. They realized that all the things that made the first temple precious, the Ark and its contents, the mercy seat, the glory cloud, etc, were forever gone. This realization broke their hearts and they wept bitterly.


(Note: There are many with us today who remember the glory days of the church. They remember a time when the Word of God and the House of God were held in high regard by all. They remember a time when the fear of God was on the community and even the lost respected the things of God. They remember a day when pulpit and pew were both filled with the Spirit of God. They remember a time when God’s presence and His power were manifested in the Lord’s house as souls were saved the saints shouted the victory and the church enjoyed God’s great power.

Those who remember those “good old days look at the modern church with a broken heart, as they long for the things that have passed. There are many who are haunted by the ghosts of the past. I am not an old man. I do not remember many of the things I have heard about in stories, but my heart does ache for a return to those simply, more powerful days. Even though I have never been in a real revival, I too am haunted by the ghosts of the past and pray for a return of those days of power and glory!)



A. What They Remembered In that number were even more people who did not remember the first temple. They had no idea of what it had looked like or of the glory that had been in it. All they remember was a life of captivity and bondage in a foreign land. No doubt many of these people had been born during the time of Israels captivity and all they could remember was their slavery. But, they also remembered how God in His power had delivered them from that bondage. They could not remember that first temple, but they were thankful for what they had!

B. What They Realized These young people could not remember the old days, but they could see that a new day of opportunity had dawned for them and they embraced it wholeheartedly! These young people had no frame of reference concerning the old days, but they were excited about what God was doing in their day.

(Note: Friend’s it is easy to err on either side of this thing. Some people are so caught up in the past that they cannot get excited about what God is doing in the present! Still, there are others who are so willing to embrace the newest trends and methods that they forget about what God did and how He worked yesterday.

The bottom line is this: The past is gone forever and we live in the present. We need to look back and glean what we can from days gone by, but we have to live in the here and now!

Does that mean we have to change to fit in with the times? Does that mean that we need a new Bible? Does that mean that we need to scrap our hymnals in favor of praise choruses? Does that mean that we need to replace preaching with “worship dramas? Does that mean that we must lower our standards to accommodate the world? Does that mean that we need to be more “seeker friendly so we can attract the big crowds? The answer to all those questions is “NO!

What it does mean is that we need to look at how and where God is working today and be thankful for the opportunities He is giving us in these days. You see, we can become trapped in the past and totally miss what God is doing today. Or, we can get so caught up in all the modern trends and methods that we fail to realize that God does not change! What He was doing in our great-grandfather’s day, He is still doing today! How God saved souls then is still how He saves them today! Society has changed, the church has changed, the world has changed, but God cannot and will not change, Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6; James 1:17.)


(Note: Here was the problem with both of these viewpoints. They both squandered the opportunities God gave them! You see, they laid the foundation for the temple, but the work was halted. For 15 years, they went about their lives, built their own houses and did what they wanted to do. For 15 years the house of the Lord stayed unfinished, Hag. 1:1-5; 12-15. All those who were looking back fondly, failed to move forward in the things of God. All those who had been so excited about what God was doing in their day also failed to carry it out to completion!

Do you see what I am trying to get across? We can sit here looking back to the past, longing for the old days, dreaming of the way things were, and get absolutely nothing done for the glory of God. We can become all caught up in the latest movie, book or trend and fail to do anything for the Lord. Either one is a shame; a waste of time and either one misses the whole point of our existence!

We are not here to look back. We are not here to jump on the latest bandwagon. We are here to join God in what He is doing in these days for His glory, John 5:19-20. What they should have done was to put their backs to the work at hand, rebuild that temple and get about the business of serving the Lord. Instead, they were all sidetracked by their own little agendas.

God help us to do what we have been called to do! I cannot go back a hundred or two hundred years to the times of great revival in the church and live then. Neither can I, nor will I, embrace everything that is being promoted in this modern age. Here is what I can do: I can bow before the Lord, commit my life to Him, ask Him to show me what He wants me to do, and get busy doing His will today. May we be careful to use the opportunities we have been given for the glory of the Lord, while we still have time to do so, John 9:4.)



(Ill. As I said, after 15 years, the work on the temple still had not been completed. God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to preach to the people. God used these men to stir up the people of Israel to get busy and to get the work done, Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15.

Now, this was a difficult time for both the old people and for the young people. Remember the old people were sad because things were not like they used to be. The young people were being discouraged by the attitude of the old people. In the midst of this turmoil, God used the message of Haggai to bring hope and encouragement to all the people of Israel.

His message still gives hope to us in this day as well. We live in a day when many are discouraged and wonder about the relevance of the church in this modern world. Others wonder what the future holds for the house of God. I think Haggai has some words of comfort for all our hearts this evening.

A. v. 4 The Promise Of His Presence God says, This temple may not be a great as the first one, but I am still here with you. Friends, we have the same promise this evening. Things may not be like they used to be, but the same God Who moved then is still with His people, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20; Matt. 18:20. (Ill. Praise God He still shows up from time to time!)

B. v. 5 The Promise Of His Peace God encourages them to fear not. He is still with them and His peace will keep them as they serve Him. Thank God, in the midst of our trials and afflictions; in the midst of our labors and activities; in the midst of our feeble attempts to serve the Lord of glory, we have His presence and His peace to sustain is, John 14:27; Phil. 4:7.

C. v. 6 The Promise Of His Power God reminds them that He is still in control, regardless of how things may look. Praise God that is still true today! It looks like evil in this world is out of control. It looks like that Satan and his will are having their day. But, I would just remind you that we serve a God Who is still on the throne! He still has all the power, Matt. 28:18. In His time, He will demonstrate His power and His sovereignty over sin, Satan and the world.

D. v. 8 The Promise Of His Provisions Some were concerned about the expense of the project. Others were concerned that the new temple lacked the gold and the glitz of the first temple. God just reminds them that He has all they need! Friends, He still does, Phil. 4:19. (Note: Don’t despair that the mega-churches, with their contemporary music, fleshly worship and lack of doctrine seem to be flourishing. God has not forsaken us! He knows what we need in these days and He will protect the remnant and provide all that we need in His Own time and in His Own way!)

E. v. 7, 9 The Promise Of His Potential These verses tell of a day when the desire of all nations would come. They tell of a day when “the glory of this latter house will be greater than the former.” He is referring to the coming of Jesus. Years later, this new temple was remodeled by Herod, and into that newly remodeled temple walked the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Lord came to that temple and fulfilled the words of Haggai. You see, He came to Solomon’s temple in the glory cloud, but He walked into this temple in the flesh! (Note: What does that mean for us? Well, we can look back with envy on the days when God moved in the great revivals of yesterday. We can long for the old days, but the fact remains that we have a privilege that they did not enjoy. You see, Jesus did not come back then to get His church, but He just might come in our day! So as bad as things may look to us from time to time, let us remember that our Savior could come for His church at any time, 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thes. 4:16-18. If you ask me that is something to get excited about!)


Conc: Friends, you can live your life looking back. You can live your life longing for what you think others have. Or you can seize the opportunities God is giving you in these days, do a work for Him and watch Him move in power. In that day, the young men shouted while the old men wept. In our day, may we all recognize the fact that God is looking for a people who will seize the day for His glory! I can’t go back to yesterday. I can’t embrace everything that is being done in the name of religion. But, I can seize the opportunities I have been given today.

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