Sincere Worship (Ezra 3:11–13) - Radical

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Sincere Worship (Ezra 3:11–13)

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 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 3:11–13

What a scene! as the foundation for the rebuilding of the temple is laid, and some people are shouting with joy. It’s happened. God’s brought us back to Jerusalem. We’re rebuilding the temple, the house of the Lord. They’re shouting for joy. At the same time, people, who years before had seen the temple before it was destroyed. People who had seen the house of the Lord before the exile and have now been brought back and are looking at this new temple that’s not as grand as it was before. They’re weeping, like loud weeping. So, you have both shouting aloud for joy and weeping, both among the people of God at the same time.

Ezra 3:11–13 shows us that Christian life is a mixture of shouting and weeping of sorrow and joy.

And when you think about that, this scene. You realize that’s true in so many circumstances among us, as God’s people, even today. Do we have things in our lives, in the church, to shout over with joy that God has done and that God is doing? Yes, absolutely. And at the same time, do we have a reason to weep? To weep with a loud voice because our hearts are hurting over certain things that are happening in our lives? In our churches and in the world around us? Yes, there’s a sense in which as long as we live in this fallen world, the Christian life will be this mixture, this tension of both shouting and weeping of sorrow and joy intermingled together. I just want to encourage you to leave space, room in your life, in your family, and in the church for both.

When we come together in the church. Yes, there’s so much to shout with joy over, but let’s not pretend like everything’s perfect in this world. It’s not. Let’s make sure there’s space for weeping, for brokenness over sin and sorrow and suffering in this world. But let’s not stay there. Let’s shout with joy over God’s grace and God’s mercy and God’s sustenance. And all the wonderful things God is doing in the world. Let’s shout with joy, and let’s weep with loud voices. Let’s make sure both of these are evident in our version of Christianity today.

Ezra 3:11–13 encourages us to shout with joy and also lament well.

Oh God, we pray that you would teach us to do both of these well. To shout with joy over who you are, over what you have done, over what you are doing, and what you promise that you will do. God, we pray for loud shouts of joy in our lives, in our families, in our churches. And at the same time, God, we pray for authentic weeping in our lives, in our families, in our churches. To weep over sin in our lives, in our families, and in our churches, and in the world around us. To weep when we walk through suffering and honestly, come before you, God, crying out for your help and crying out because we are full of sorrow in this fallen world.

God, we pray that you would help us to show the full range of biblical emotion in our lives, in our families, and in our churches, in our day, always with hope. With hope that our shouting with joy will never ever end, that we will experience everlasting shouts of joy in you, and at the same time knowing that our weeping will one day end when you wipe every tear from our eyes.

Prayer for the Wolane People

And oh God, we pray for people who don’t have that hope. We pray today for the Wolane people of Ethiopia, 129,000 of them, for the few believers among them, God, we pray for their shouting and weeping for their joy in you and for your comfort in their sorrow. And we pray that you would help them to spread the gospel among the Wolane people, that they might know the hope that’s found in you. God, as we pray for unreached people in the world, who don’t have hope beyond this fallen world. Jesus, they need you. You are their only hope. We pray for the spread of the gospel to the Wolane people of Ethiopia. We pray all of this according to your word in Ezra 3:11–13. In Jesus’ name, amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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