Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 34-36; John 19:1-22
22 In the first year of Persia’s King Cyrus, to carry out the Lord’s promise spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord moved Persia’s King Cyrus to issue the following proclamation throughout his kingdom, along with a written decree:
23 This is what Persia’s King Cyrus says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the earth’s kingdoms and has instructed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever among you belong to God’s people, let them go up, and may the Lord their God be with them! (2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Common English Bible)
Christian tradition credits Ezra and Nehemiah with authoring 2 Chronicles. So, this chapter is the sack of Jerusalem. It is the destruction of the temple. It is the beginning of the exile.
This is tough stuff folks. Jeremiah had warned the Israelites this day was coming. In the full Journey Through Scripture reading for today we see God allowed Persia’s King Cyrus to literally destroy Jerusalem. The city walls were torn down. The King’s palaces were burned. Lots of people died at the hands of the Persians. Those that didn’t die were either left for dead our carried away to exile in Persia. They would be slaves of the Persians. And, as if all that were not enough, the temple was completely destroyed and all things of value were removed with it. If there was anything in the city it was either carried off as plunder from the battle or the Persioans destroyed it.
Then in the much shorter lesson for today, King Cyrus is about to undo what he just did. When we read it, it seems like about 15 minutes have passed and King Cyrus is ready to undo the very thing he just did. He is ready to rebuild the temple.
Why would Ezra and Nehemiah think rebuilding the temple was such a big deal? As for King Cyrus, God told him to rebuild, he is just being obedient. What is the deal with Ezra and Nehemiah. It isn’t like they are in Jerusalem to use the temple anyway. The same could be said for most citizens of Jerusalem. Why the big deal?
We can sum it up in one word, HOPE. The Jews believed the temple was the place where one could find the presence of God. Without the temple, they couldn’t see God and if you can’t see God, if you think God isn’t there, there is no hope.
God was giving the people a sign. The sign from God says, “I am still with you. I am right here. In the end, everything will work out.” God was giving the people a clear sign of hope. In the rebuilding of the temple was a clear sign of God’s presence.
Without hope, there is only despair. Without hope, what would be the reason to look forward to the future. It would be a life that was only in the moment because there might not be a tomorrow.
God was with them. The very real presence of God was with them. They didn’t need a temple for that. They needed a temple to represent that and give them hope. Through the rebuilding of the temple God told the Israelites, “I am right here.” And, where God is, there is always reason for hope.
Have a great day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved