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.
Ezra 3:11b-13 is about the celebration that follows the foundations being laid for the new temple. This is during the time of captivity for Israel, when some of the people are allowed to return to Jerusalem and start to rebuild.
This passage is the definition of bittersweet. Many are shouting for joy, while those who remember the former temple are weeping. I could wonder for a while as to the source of their mourning, but sorrow is so individualized that I dare not speculate the horrors that they old men had seen in their lifetime and the grief they experience remembering the “good old days.”
That’s the thing about rebuilding. It’s always bittersweet. Buried beneath the new foundation are the memories of the past. My life today sits on a bedrock of memories – places I’ve lived, people I’ve known, lives that have touched mine. Some of those memories are like grains of sand, fleeting and fast moving. These are the random thoughts that come to mind and drift away just as quickly. Others are boulders, some solid and some so shaky I can barely trust myself to think about them.
Holding all of it together is God my Savior. He is the cornerstone, the mortar, the glue, the base. Without Him, my life is just a pile of broken rocks and shifting sand.
“The rains came down and the floods came up; the rains came down and the floods came up. The rains came down and the floods came up, and the house on the Rock stood firm!”