Read Ezra 1:1-11
In 539 b. c. Jews may have wondered about their future. The once unified nation had been divided into two: Israel and Judah. “Their” land had been invaded and the capital city had been destroyed. People had been taken into captivity among neighboring nations. Rather than being a blessing to other nations, they had become a laughing stock. Judah alone had been subject to the Babylonian, then the Median, and now the Persian empires for more than six decades.
But in 538 all of that changed. After 70 years of captivity, true to His promise, God stirred the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia. He allowed Jews to return to their home country and its capital city and for reconstruction of their temple to begin. Those were key. The land belonged to God’s people. Jerusalem was special. The temple was central to Old Testament worship and the place where God had chosen to manifest His presence in a unique way. With zeal and with vessels stolen decades before from the temple, thousands of people returned to their home land.
This represented the restoration of God’s people. This was exciting. It had all the makings of revival among God’s people!
Fast forward nearly 600 years. Jesus saw another day coming. He envisioned a change. Here are the words He expressed to the woman at the well in John 4:
“. . . a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (vv. 21-23)
Jesus anticipated the days in which we now live. He, the very source of salvation, had come. There would be a shift in worship. No longer would it have a geographic element to it. God’s presence would no longer be associated with a physical building. Instead, He now abides in all who commit themselves to Christ. Regardless of location and with or without a building, we can worship God!
Take advantage of that reality today as you worship Him in Spirit and in truth.