Spiritual Preparation of the People
If you have been reading along in the Old Testament, there’s a sadness of how many times Israel had to rebuild not only God’s house, but their spiritual lives. As long as they had a king or priest that did what was right, God blessed them. In the Christian life our actions should match up to what we believe. We should not be a “yo-yo”, faith one day, doubt the next. Light that fire and keep it lit by staying in God’s Word!
Verses 2, 3 – The Jews built the altar, first. It symbolized God’s presence and protection. It also demonstrated their purpose as a nation and their commitment to God alone.
Verse 4 – The Feast of Tabernacles, also called Festival of Booths, lasted seven days. During this time the people lived in temporary dwellings (tents or booths). This Feast reminded the people of God’s protection and guidance in the desert and of His continual love for them.
Verse 5 – The people began worshiping God through daily sacrifices even before the foundation of the temple was laid. After being in captivity all those years, the people had learned their lesson. They figured out that God wouldn’t protect them when they ignored Him. They realized the importance of obeying God from the heart and not merely out of habit.
Verse 6 – The first day of the seventh month was most likely “our” September.
Verse 7 – When Solomon built the first temple (2 Chronicles 2), he also exchanged food and oil–plentiful resources in Israel. What they didn’t have, was wood. The wood came from Sidon and Tyre, that time too. The famous cedars of Lebanon were cut and floated down the coast to Joppa just south of the present day Tel-Aviv.
Verse 8 – They wanted to build the house of the Lord before they even put the walls of the city up because they now knew that if they didn’t have God as their protection, the walls wouldn’t help them.
verse 8 – It took around 9 months to just get the preparations to build the temple in order. Preparation may not feel heroic or spiritual, but it is valid and necessary for any project to be done well.
Verses 10, 11 – Completing the foundation took a great effort on the part of all involved. No one took the praise for himself and his own hard work. All good gifts come from God. The abilities, talents, and strength to get things done, comes from God.
Verse 12 – Some of the older people remembered how glorious Solomon’s temple was and they wept. But the beauty of the temple was not nearly as important to God as the people’s attitudes towards Him. When we seek God with our whole heart, there’s no need to compare our work with someone else.
Verse 13 – When we come into the presence of God, we may feel full of joy and thanksgiving, yet at the same time feel sorrow over our shortcomings or what we have lost.