Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daily Devotion for Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scripture Reading for Today: Ezra 6:1-16

Key verse from today's reading: Ezra 6:15, "This house was completed on the third day of the month of Adar, in the sixth year of the rule of King Darius."

This scripture is about the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem following the exile.  In 587 BCE, the Temple was destroyed in the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  Part of the population (the leadership and wealthy) of Judah was deported to Babylon.  There they lived as a people for almost 50 years.

Cyrus the Great bas-relief at
Sydney Olympic Park, Australia
The Babylonians were eventually conquered by the next great empire in the Persians in 538 BCE.  The emperor of the Persians, Cyrus (mentioned in verse 3) decreed that the exiles could return to their homelands.  The Jews went home and then were given even more good news: the Persians not only allowed them to rebuild their temple, but they would pay for it!

Our key verse places the date of completion at 515 BCE.  This was 72 years after its destruction.

As we consider our own lives, the majority of us were not around 72 years ago.  The year was 1940 and our country was debating whether or not to enter the second world war.  My parents were 8 years old at the time - the same age as my son David is now.  What would it be like to re-establish your identity religiously and somewhat politically after such a long absence?

What practices would have gone by the wayside?  What new understandings of God would they bring to their worship?  When you come through the fire you are changed. How you see God at work in your life would also change.

As we move through Lent, what periods of exile have you traversed in your faith?  When have you felt God's neglect?  How have you experienced the return of faith as with the rebuilding of the temple?

May you be able to join in with the exiles of so long ago and celebrate the dedication of your own house to God.

Breath prayer: Eternal God, stay with me.

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