The Beginning of the Temple

Scripture Passage: 
Ezra 3:1-13; Ezra 4:1-24
Attached audio files: 

INTRODUCTION: The first return under Zerubbabel set as its primary goal the rebuilding of the temple. Though the city of Jerusalem was in ruin and the walls were broken down, the first order of business was to reestablish the true worship of the temple. This is true in all returns to God. Men often try to take care of the external items first. But God requires us to restore our relationship with Him first. Only then can the external failures be properly repaired—with His help.

  1. THE BUILDING OF THE ALTAR (Ezra 3:1-7)
    1. The Unity of the People (Ezra 3:1; Psalm 133:1)
      1. They came together.
        1. In the seventh month
          1. This is the month of the last three of the seven annual Jewish feasts as taught in Leviticus 23:23-44 – The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. These are the feasts that foretell of the restoration of Israel and the end of time.
          2. Seven is the number of perfection; especially a perfect work.
        2. They came from the cities to Jerusalem; the city of Jerusalem was so ruined that they had immediately gone to their ancient cities when they came to the land. They had to be brought specifically to Jerusalem.
      2. They gathered together as one man (Nehemiah 8:1; Acts 2:46; Acts 4:32; 1 Corinthians 1:10).
    2. The Setting Up of the Altar (Ezra 3:2-3)
      1. Built at the direction of their leaders (Ezra 3:2; Ezekiel 22:30)
      2. Built by the commandment of the law (Ezra 3:2; Joshua 1:8)
        1. As written in the law of Moses (Exodus 20:24-25)
        2. To offer burnt offerings thereon (Deuteronomy 12:5-7)
      3. Built on its original foundation (Ezra 3:3; Genesis 13:1-4; Genesis 26:18)
      4. Built for fear of the surrounding enemies (Ezra 3:3; Proverbs 24:10)
      5. Built in order to renew the burnt offerings (Ezra 3:3)
    3. The Feast of the Tabernacles (Ezra 3:4-6)
      1. The offerings of the feast (Ezra 3:4; Leviticus 23:33-44)
        1. According to what was written
        2. According to the number required
        3. According to the custom of offering
        4. As the duty of every day required
        5. Note: they were careful to do exactly what God wanted them to do. This carefulness is a sign of true repentance and return to the Lord (2 Corinthians 2:9-11).
      2. The renewed practice of the altar (Ezra 3:5)
        1. The continual burnt offering (Exodus 29:38-39)
          1. Of the new moon
          2. Of all the set feasts
        2. The freewill offering
      3. The beginnings of temple worship (Ezra 3:6)
        1. Burnt offerings from the first day of the seventh month
        2. But the foundation of the temple not yet laid
    4. The Gifts of the People (Ezra 3:7)
      1. Money to the masons and carpenters (2 Kings 12:10-12)
      2. Meat, drink, and oil to the workers
      3. Cedar trees for the building (1 Kings 5:6-10)
  2. THE LAYING OF THE FOUNDATION (Ezra 3:8-13)
    1. The Appointing of the Workmen (Ezra 3:8-9)
      1. In the second month of the second year (Ezra 3:8)
      2. By the leaders and returning Jews (Ezra 3:8)
      3. To set forward the work of the house of the Lord (Ezra 3:8)
      4. To set workmen to the task of rebuilding (Ezra 3:9)
    2. The Rejoicing at the Foundation (Ezra 3:10-11)
      1. By the priests and Levites (Ezra 3:10-11)
        1. The priests
          1. In their apparel
          2. With trumpets
        2. The Levites
          1. The sons of Asaph (1 Chronicles 16:4-6)
          2. With cymbals
        3. After the ordinance of David (1 Chronicles 25:1-2)
        4. Singing together by course (see 1 Corinthians 14:27)
        5. Praising and giving thanks to God
      2. By the people (Ezra 3:11)
        1. They shouted with a great shout.
        2. They praised the Lord.
        3. Because the foundation was laid
    3. The Mixture of Joy and Sorrow (Ezra 3:12-13)
      1. Sorrow at the inferior building (Ezra 3:12; Haggai 2:3-5)
      2. Joy at the laid foundation (Ezra 3:12)
      3. Joy and weeping at the same time (Ezra 3:13); Note: restoration often brings weeping over sin and joy over God’s mercy—all at the same time.
  3. THE CEASING OF THE WORK (Ezra 4:1-24)
    1. The First Approach of Their Enemies (Ezra 4:1-3)
      1. They heard that the temple was being rebuilt (Ezra 4:1).
      2. They offered to join in the work (Ezra 4:2).
        1. Approaching Zerubbabel in peace
        2. Claiming to seek God (Proverbs 26:24-26; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
        3. They were of those who combined pagan practices with the worship of the true God (2 Kings 17:27-33, 41).
      3. They were not allowed to join with them (Ezra 4:3).
    2. The Hiring of Trouble Makers (Ezra 4:4-5)
      1. Troubled by the people of the land (Ezra 4:4; John 15:18-21)
      2. Frustrated by hired counsellors (Ezra 4:5)
        1. Hired by the adversaries
        2. Sent to frustrate their purpose
        3. Continued to harass the people unto the reign of Darius
    3. An Example of Opposition (Ezra 4:6-23); the kings mentioned in this passage (Ezra 4:6-7) and the fact that rebuilding the walls of the city was the subject of the letter (Ezra 4:12) show this letter was sent much later than the time we are studying. In fact, this section took place between the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, years after our present time. The letter was included here to illustrate the kind of oppression the Jews had to deal with in their rebuilding projects.
    4. The Halting of the Construction (Ezra 4:24)
      1. The cessation of work on the temple
      2. The time of cessation – until the second year of king Darius, about 15 years

CONCLUSION: Restoration often requires more effort than the original gains. The Devil will fight for territory he has won back. He also knows the battle has been won before—he may very well win it again. Also, the one being restored knows he has the option of disobedience and will often retreat to his sins at the first major opposition. Restoration must be sought with all diligence. Otherwise, it will not be gained.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 10:17

He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.