After the deportation to Babylon, the temple was destroyed. The temple represents the faith of the people during that time. Adam rejected the Word of God and he was banned from the garden temple. The tabernacle in the wilderness represents the faith of the Israelites. The Solomon Temple represents the faith of David. During the deportation to Babylon, God promises that they will return. They were taken over 3 different times and they returned 3 different times. The construction of this restored temple of Zerubbabel was stopped for 16 years.
The temple was destroyed in 586BC and reconstructed in 516BC. The restoration took 70 years just as it was prophesized in the Bible.
1. Chosen place
Did God choose the place? Zerubbabel’s Temple was located at the same place where Solomon’s temple was. The Persian king Cyrus rebuilt the temple. He has learnt through Daniel how God prophesized in the book of Isaiah that he will be the one who will allow the return of the Israelites to rebuild the temple. This is a Gentile king but God has appointed him. Even this Gentile king was taught Bible study by Daniel and knew where this place is.
When the foundation of Zerubbabel’s Temple was laid, the people sang praises to God. Those who have seen Solomon’s Temple cried and lamented. Why do you think they cry? Solomon Temple was fabulous, glorious and this one was in comparison was pretty shabby. We are not talking about the size. Can you imagine a father who is like the CEO of the company, who used to stay in a big house in Sentosa, but because his children misbehaved, he had to use all his money to help his children. After his son came back, he built a house and it is a little shack but if he is mature enough, he will be crying because his father used to live in a mansion.
Our Father is in Heaven but He is with us too. How is your house for God? What does God’s house look like in your lives? Can you imagine God sharing the room with other idols? That is why they are weeping.
2. God’s presence
When they observed the feast of the unleavened bread, God gave them the heart of joy. That shows us that God is pleased with the construction of the temple. God waits for the day we repent and return to him. When the son returns, it does not matter what he looks like, Father is happy. The wealth of all nations refers to Jesus Christ. This is the house where the Messiah will come. Where would you rather be? Solomon’s Temple or Zerubbabel’s Temple? Sometimes, we envy other people. There are people saying that non-believers are leading a better life. Would you like to be rich in this world or be in a house where God will come?
It is not about what we can give to God or what we can show. It is not about how many things we can give or how much but it is showing God our shabby heart. May we have that kind of house built for God. Although it is not a fabulous temple, it can be a precious temple when Jesus come. When Jesus comes into us, we and our family can become the most fabulous people. How precious it is when you have a ring, a car, a bicycle and it is the only one in the world. How much will you give if you can buy it? God is saying Jesus is the only one, everything else is a copy and this I will give to you.
3. The duties
After the temple was completed, the duties were restored too. The Levites were appointed by the Word and live by the Word. Not everybody can live by the Word, only those appointed by God can live by the Word. You and I are chosen and appointed as royal priests of the end time. From our lips should come the wisdom of God and these words come from the heart. This heart needs to be filled with wisdom first.
As time passes, the priests did not keep the commandments. They began to be corrupted and took foreign wives and had children. Ezra asked for the foreign wives and children to be sent away. In God’s work, if there is no purity, the whole thing, the whole church will be corrupted. Let us seek God’s cleansing and forgiveness.
After the completion of Zerubbabel’s temple, the offerings were restored. God was preparing this temple so that the Israelites can continue their faith. Thus, this temple is very important. It is upon the Zerubbabel temple that Herod Temple was built.
The time in Babylon was so difficult. They barely settle down and 70 years is not easy. Finally, they settled down and now God says come back. The temple is destroyed. if I go back, I need to do work and build again. There is nothing there. It is hard enough to settle down in Babylon. Looking at my life situation, I am not ready. Our lives in this world are difficult. Is there enough space in my heart for God? As time goes by, the space in our hearts will become smaller and smaller. How do we expand that space? Light creates space. When God says let there be light, when there is light, the space becomes bigger. When our space is small, we cannot accept and forgive others. When we have more space, it is okay. The church has different people coming in and they are all different talents. Let us ask ourselves if the space in our hearts is enough for God.