Today’s reading: Genesis 3; Matthew 3; Ezra 3; Acts 3
Seven months after returning from captivity to build the temple, the Children of Israel built an altar. At this time, the foundation for the temple was not yet laid. It wasn’t until two years and two months after their return that the Children of Israel got around to defining roles and finally beginning to work on the temple structure. We know from Ezra 2 that a ton of people returned from captivity. A lot had to be done to settle and re-assimilate to their homeland. But two years from the start seems like a long time to finally get started on the task for which you came! Contrasting this to the seven-day account of creation we read over the last two days, I personally expect this should have happened a lot faster.
Today, we also read the account of The Fall in Genesis 3. How familiar this story sounded. The serpent capitalized on Eve’s desire for wisdom, she brought Adam along to eat with her. When questioned by God, Adam tried to shift the blame to anyone but himself. “It wasn’t me, it was the woman you gave to me”, he said. In other words…”not my fault God”!
Now back to Ezra 3. I can only imagine how much of this “blame shifting” was going on as the Children of Israel all moved back, settled and began to organize to make progress on the task at hand. These folks were all sinners just like me. I am positive they were grumbling, fighting and trying to be better than / gain a better position than their neighbors. But God still worked with each of their in adequacies and selfish desires to move them to accomplish his work.
Bottom line, God’s timing is perfect. I often forget this and lose sight of the goal. God’s goal in Ezra 3 was not really about getting the temple built. His objective in this passage is the same as it is in every other passage, relationship with the people he created. Always using a variety of means, including the circumstances at hand, to help shape our hearts to look like his.