Read Ezra 3:1-13
If you trace the origin of the Jewish, you will discover it all began with a portable tent. During the time of Moses and the Exodus, the Tent of Meeting represented the very place where the omnipresent God of the universe “dwelt.” Into this tent, Moses would often go to meet with God. When he came out, he would have to place a veil over his face that was aglow from his encounter with God.
Years passed and the Israelites settled into the Promised Land. There was the time of the judges and then of the kings. Though David had wanted to construct a more permanent building for worship, sacrifice, and for God to manifest his presence, he was not permitted. Instead, Solomon, David’s son, was the one who oversaw this important project. The resulting building was elaborate! But it was God’s abiding Shekinah glory that made it all that it was.
Unfortunately, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, that temple had been destroyed. But, under Cyrus, king of Persia, Jews were permitted to return with the specific responsibility of rebuilding the temple. The reconstruction of this building and the reassembly of the articles from the temple would allow God’s people to once again worship God and offer sacrifices as God had outlined in the Old Testament Law.
First to be constructed was the altar where sacrifices were made and offerings given. Next temple reconstruction began. The laying of the foundation was a milestone accomplishment. It was celebrated with great fanfare. But while many rejoiced, a handful wept. These were the older Jews. Those mourning were the men who, years earlier, had seen the more elaborate temple in all of its glory. Somehow, it was clear to them that this one would not compare. Still void of the glory of God, they could not envision this temple being a place of worship.
While we must, of course, have a concern for the glory of God, there can be a real danger in comparison. We tend to “glorify” the past, don’t we? The song expresses our sentiments well at times, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Somehow, new and different just doesn’t compare with old and proven. Is it possible though that God can still use and be honored through the new and different?