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©Clay Eldridge

Chapter 3:8-13 (ESV)

Posted on October 09, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:8-13 (ESV) - Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity. They appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to supervise the work of the house of the Lord. And Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, and Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together supervised the workmen in the house of God, along with the sons of Henadad and the Levites, their sons and brothers.

And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people's weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

Question to consider: Why did the Levites supervise the work of the house of the Lord?

From the time reference given, it looks like it took more than a year to get all of the building materials to begin construction of the temple. When you don’t have trains and trucks, you end up transporting the cedars of Lebanon by waterways and caravans. It is not an easy process.

The temple was to be created according to the specifications given to Moses in the Law so the priests were commissioned to oversee the construction. Once the foundation was laid, they celebrated in the same way as the priests back at the time of the dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 5:2-14). At that time, the ark of the covenant was brought into the temple, and the place was filled with the glory cloud of God. By comparison, I’m sure this event must have seemed underwhelming, but their thanksgiving over the foundation reminds me of Psalm 118 where the foundation is Christ, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!” (Psalm 118:1, 22-25)

Those who were born in captivity gave shouts of great joy that this day had come. Those who saw the original temple in their youth wept aloud. It’s possible that their tears were a release of all of the pain and heartache that came with being captive most of their lives and now realizing they were once again at peace with God. However, if you look at my studies of Haggai 2:1-9 and Zechariah 4:6-10, you can see time references that point to this event and give the explanation that those who wept were remembering the former glory of Solomon’s temple and seeing from the foundation that this one would pale in comparison to it.

God’s exhortation to them was that the size of the temple was not important. It was the God of the temple who was great and would protect them from their enemies and bring in treasure from all the nations. Of course, the word of the Lord was ultimately pointing to the one who would come and redeem the nations— the one whose temple would fill the whole earth. This is God’s temple which is made from living stones in which the Holy Spirit dwells and Christ is the cornerstone. Amen and amen!


Dear heavenly Father, please help us to remember that Your presence in the church is what we need and that Your steadfast love endures forever. Help us to faithfully tell others of Your word and serve as Your instruments in making disciples of all nations as we rejoice in the foundation You have laid. Amen.