Through the Bible Day by Day
And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
THE BUILDING OF THE ALTAR
Throughout their history the true Israelites were eager to maintain their genealogy; wherever they were scattered, they carefully guarded their national registers. Each of us should be able to establish his descent and to vindicate his claim to be considered a child of God, a joint-heir with Christ, a partaker in the inheritance which God has promised to them that love Him. If you cannot establish your sonship, you may doubt your right to the spiritual blessings which are a part of the family estates. This is clearly illustrated by the prohibition issued against the eating of the most holy things by the priests whose names were not found in the register. They must wait till the Urim and Thummin attested that they were Israelites indeed. What that witness was in these olden days, the testimony of the Holy Spirit is within us. He witnesses with our spirit that we are born of God.
The first act of the restored Jews was to set up the House of God. For this they gave willingly, and after their ability. The altar was the center of their religion. So the Cross of Jesus is the center of our life and worship, reminding us of His work for us in justification, or His claims in sanctification.
Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
THE FOUNDATION OF THE TEMPLE LAID
Foundation-laying is not always pleasant work. It means toil under ground, down in the trenches, unnoticed and unknown, and those who begin are often not permitted to finish. But amid all, the minstrel Hope brought her harp, and sang her sweet strains of encouragement. In spite of the fewness and poverty of the builders, the voice of Inspiration had assured them that the glory of the latter house should surpass that of the former. So by the reckoning of faith, in sure anticipation that God would keep His word, the builders encircled their foundations with their songs. But the same event excited tears and shoutings. The old men looked back, and as they contrasted the impoverished and diminished condition of their people with the opulent crowds that had thronged the courts of Solomon’s Temple, they could not restrain their tears. The young, new generation had not the same retrospect or ideals and, filled with hope of that which was to be, they could not restrain their shouts, which were heard afar off. “We have been,” said the graybeards, “and the good old times were better than these.” “We shall be,” said the young, “and we will make the coming days better than any that have been since the beginning of the world!”