Now before I read these verses, let me give you a picture of what’s happening here. This is all the priests and the Levites and people gathering together to celebrate the rebuilding of the temple and Verse 11 says,
“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 father’s 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 loud for joy, so the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout and the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout and the sound was heard far away.”
What a scene. Like imagine the emotions here. The exuberance of the people on one hand, having been brought back from exile. They’re singing and they’re shouting about the faithfulness and the goodness, the steadfast love of God toward them to restore them. Yet that joyful shouting is mixed with weeping, because people remember what the temple used to look like, what used to be before God’s people in their sin turned away from God and experienced his judgment and so they’re weeping here over the effects of sin and the exile that they were taken into, the destruction of the temple and its former glory. You’ve got weeping over sin and its effects and rejoicing over salvation and God’s faithfulness, all mixed together in this scene.
In many ways we have lost our capacity to weep, particularly over sin. As a result of this, there is a lack of shouting of over salvation.
What a picture that in so many ways describes the Christian life, right? Think about it. We shout, we shout with joy over the grace, the mercy, the love of God, that he saves us from our sin. At the same time, we weep over our sin, that necessitates God’s salvation. We weep over our disobedience to God, our not trusting in God, our not worshiping God, our turning from God to our ways. I guess that’s the question though. Do we weep like that, and do we shout like that? When was the last time you wept over your sin against God? We’re so broken over it. So sad that you had turned against God from God’s ways to your own ways. I fear that we have in many ways lost our capacity to weep. Particularly over sin in light of Ezra Chapter Three here and as a result, of our lack of weeping over sin, there’s a lack of shouting, rejoicing, going nuts, exuberance over salvation. You look out across many Christian gatherings today, weekly gatherings for worship, and I’m not in any way advocating for getting carried away in emotionalism, but surely, the gathering of God’s people to celebrate his salvation should involve some shouting and exuberancing. Not people who look like they’re bored to tears carrying out a duty on a Sunday. No. We shout, we sing, we celebrate, and we weep, we fall on our faces, broken over sin.
Oh God, teach us to worship like this. Teach us to worship with the full thrust of the emotions you have given to us. God, cause us, we pray. Cause us to weep over sin. Cause us to hate sin that much, to be sorrowful over sin that much. Please oh God, please. Help us to see sin like you see it. Help us to hate that we have sinned against you. Help us to feel the horror of that in a sense. Then God, by your grace, teach us to shout, to celebrate with loud joy over the salvation you give. Lord, make our worship gatherings and our time in personal worship. Both God, make them we pray, times of weeping and times of shouting. God, we pray in Jesus’ name that you would teach us to weep and to shout according to your word. Amen.
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