Not Complete Restoration
In Ezra we have a record of a remnant of people coming back from captivity to rebuild and resettle the city of Jerusalem. Part of what they do is to rebuild the temple. The work is begun but it is soon clear that the rebuilt temple will not achieve the grandeur and glory of the original one. We read this in verses 11-12 of chapter 3: 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy. The people who had seen the original temple were very disappointed in the new one; so much that they were moved to tears.
God was gracious to His people to allow them back into the city of Jerusalem. They didn’t’ deserve it. It was only by God’s grace that they were allowed to return. But their sin was not without consequences. The temple they rebuilt was nothing compared to the first one. This reminds me of life. Though God may “restore” some things to us that we have lost, He doesn’t promise to restore it to its original position. There are consequences to sin. Perhaps the beginning of Ezra can be a reminder to us not to presume on God’s grace and to know that there are always consequences to our sin.