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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 3:1-7 (ESV)

Posted on October 08, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:1-7 (ESV) - When the seventh month came, and the children of Israel were in the towns, the people gathered as one man to Jerusalem. Then arose Jeshua the son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel with his kinsmen, and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Booths, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required, and after that the regular burnt offerings, the offerings at the new moon and at all the appointed feasts of the Lord, and the offerings of everyone who made a freewill offering to the Lord. From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord. But the foundation of the temple of the Lord was not yet laid. So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had from Cyrus king of Persia.

Question to consider: Think of a time when you faced an overwhelming task. How did you begin to conquer it?

The seventh month is an important one on the calendar of Israel, for it contains Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Rosh Hashanah (the new year), and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). This particular holiday season was especially sweet, for it signified the fresh start that had now been given to Israel after seventy years of exile.

The first order of business for the high priest, Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, was to reestablish the altar and begin to offer sacrifices. The temple was the central place of worship, and the most holy place of the temple would be where God was to dwell, but in order for any of this to take place, they had to atone for their sins. 

When we have gone down the path of sin to the point where all seems lost, the road back can seem overwhelming. There were a number of things that could have caused them to despair. The city had no walls around it so they felt like easy prey to the peoples of the surrounding nations. Rebuilding the temple would be as overwhelming as building a mountain. God’s promise to Daniel was that the temple would be rebuilt in 49 years once the project began. This is miraculous when you consider the size and scope of the project. However, when you are turning 49, time feels like it has flown by, but when you are in year one, 49 seems like an eternity.

Rather than giving in to despair, the path forward in such a scenario was to face their sins and do what was right— one step at a time. So they began with rebuilding the altar and offering continued sacrifices. They celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles which allowed them to experience the joy of their deliverance by God. It was at this point that they could begin to gather the resources necessary to lay the foundation of the temple. 

I don’t usually spend much time on personal application of descriptive texts, but I think we can learn a lot from this experience in dealing with overwhelming circumstances in life. Rather than dwelling on the mountainous task in front of you, think about where you can lay the brick that you have in your hand. Praise God for providing that brick and celebrate each milestone, looking back at what God has allowed you to accomplish. If you do what you can do in the moment and find gratitude and joy in each step, you will be surprised at what you can accomplish.


Dear heavenly Father, we ask for Your peace in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. Please help us to focus on what You have given us the ability to do in the moment and to leave the rest in Your powerful hands. Please multiply our efforts and help us to do what is right even when it’s hard, and above all things, please help us to find joy and gratitude in You at every step along the way. Amen.