“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.”
– Ezra 3:12
What a scene here in Ezra Chapter 3, as the temple is being rebuilt in Jerusalem and people who had seen the first temple that was destroyed when the Babylonians came and took God’s people into exile, and they’re weeping because they remember what the temple, this house looked like before. And they remember how God had moved in such power back in those days. And they’re weeping because they are remembering their sin that led God’s people into exile. So there’s weeping here and at the same time, they’re shouting for joy. Many people shouted a loud for joy because of the restoration God was bringing about that we were praying according to in Ezra Chapter 2.
The people of God remember how God had moved in such power back in those days and they’re weeping because they are remembering their sin that led God’s people into exile.
And in this mixture of emotions, I think we see a picture of really the Christian life, of each of our lives. Like there should be in our lives the sadness over sin in our lives, over the effects of sin in our lives, over the effects of sin in the world around us. And ways that cause us to weep and ways that causes us to wish it was not so. Like it’s good to weep over sin and to hate it. And at the same time, it’s good to shout a loud for joy over God’s grace and God’s provision in the present. Not to be so overwhelmed by the effects of sin and grieving over sin in the past that we miss the grace of God in the present. And the joy that God has given us in his restoration and the joy that God gives us and forgiveness of sin and fullness of life in him.
So can we just pray with both of those emotions before God? Oh God, we do grieve over sin in our lives, the effects of sin in our lives, in the past and the effects of sin in the world around us. God, we hate the sin and we pray that even in remembering our sin from the past, we would have a deeper hatred for it in the present. That the pain of past sin and consequences from up would be a powerful deterrent to present sin, helpful in the fight against temptation today. And at the same time, oh God, as we grieve over sin and its effect, we rejoice Jesus and you are savior. We rejoice in your forgiveness of our sin. We rejoice in the reality that as far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed our sins from us. Isaiah 43, verse 25, that you remember our sins no more, that you have made us Corinthians 5:17, new creations. That the old has gone, the new has come.
So we shout a loud for joy today, over your grace in our lives, over your love for us, over your forgiveness of us, that we have confessed our sins and you are faithful and just, and you’ve forgiven us of our sins and you’ve cleansed us from all unrighteousness. God, help us to rest in these promises, to rejoice in this reality that you are our restorer and redeemer, as we were praying, according to in Ezra Chapter 2. We shout a loud for joy over your grace in our lives. We pray, oh God, that you’d help us to live with this tension, this mixture of emotions in such a way that we do grieve genuinely. And God, God, we pray that you would help us to grieve deeply over sin and to rejoice greatly in your salvation. In Jesus’ name, we pray according to Ezra Chapter 3, verse 12. Amen.
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