For any of us who have been through a church building project, we know that it can be an exciting time! It seems like every new step is exciting. From getting the architectural plans drawn up, to seeing the foundation being lain, to seeing the walls being built- every new step seems to add to the anticipation of that building being completed.
As the children of Israel were returning from exile, they seemed to have one focus in mind: to rebuild the temple. This was important not only for their spiritual health, but for their morale as a nation. In Ezra 3, we see one of those exciting times in the “building project.” This exciting time was when the foundation was being laid. Now you may think to yourself, “What’s so exciting about the foundation being built?” That’s a good question. If you think about a building foundation being built today you can’t really use it for much… maybe a parking lot. The children of Israel’s response to the foundation seems to suggest there was more to it than a place to park their donkeys.
In Ezra 3:10-11 we see they had a praise service. They “had church” as some good ol’ Baptists from the South may say. It didn’t matter to them that the project wasn’t finished. They were praising God the first step was made to rebuild their house of worship. It’s easy to get tangled up in the details of life, but we ought to take time to praise God for each provision. Maybe God hasn’t seen fit to allow you to completely pay off a debt, but He has provided you enough to make this month’s payment. Praise God for His goodness to us at every level of a project. Praise God He has provided the means for us to worship during this pandemic. We can praise God now. We don’t have to wait until we meet under the church roof again.
Not everyone had the same response to the foundation being laid. The atmosphere was mixed with emotions. In verses 12 and 13 we see some were shouting with joy while others were weeping. The Bible says the “ancient men” were weeping. Now I would never presume to say we have “ancient men” at Anthony Baptist, but the church does have a rich history and we are fortunate to have many members here with us who have been a part of the church for decades. Imagine for a moment if for some reason they were taken away some time ago, then allowed to return after 50 years only to find the church building in ruins. Of course there would be mixed emotions there. I’m sure some feelings of nostalgia would be there, and maybe even some of bitterness or anger. The important thing to remember is that worshipping was happening again.
As we go through the next phases of life at Anthony Baptist, let’s remember to praise God even when there seems to be still much work to do. God is still on the throne. Praise the Lord for His goodness and continued faithfulness to His people.