A Return and Census. To Rebuild. Opposition.
We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.
Ezra 5:11 (NIV)
When last we left the chosen ones of God (at the end of Samuel and Chronicles), King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was leading them into exile after a complete siege of their land. The palace and temple both fell along with the people – everything is effectively destroyed.
And now, they return. King Cyrus of Babylon – after seeing the Light of God through the prophet Jeremiah – issues the order to allow them to go back home and aids them in the process. Once in Jerusalem, they begin the painful work of rebuilding, including their holy places in order that they may properly worship their God. Eventually, they get opposition from the King of Persia, but they push on in their efforts. They are the new faces of God on Earth, and a little bit of pushback will not stop them.
This is some of the last history before we move on to the New Testament. Don’t get too excited, there are hundreds of pages of poetry and prophecy between now and then. But I bring this up anyway just to mentally take note of the state of things at this point. So much of the Bible feels so foreign and dead to me, precisely because the culture so radically diverges from our current one. But the New Testament always seemed a bit fresher… maybe that feeling will return once I read it.
So, they start over, and we will see how that goes. I am not writing this entry with any sort of dramatic irony, as I really do not remember what happens between this moment and the arrival of Jesus. Just based on the fact that only a scant few chapters remain, I am making the assumption that it is a little less dramatic than some of the recent stories (that we got to read two accounts of, no less).
Starting anew is an interesting event in most people’s lives, if they have the opportunity, or perhaps are forced, to do it. I have made two huge moves in my life (three if you count college), and neither felt particularly profound at the time. Both instances involved cross country adjustments to foreign places where I held little personal connections, but frankly, neither felt incredibly weighty at the time. It just felt like the course of life.
Some people take these moments to instill an emotional change in tandem with the physical one. What better way to start anew than to get rid of all those bad habits that you swore you would take care of a hundred times over? But it doesn’t always go that way, does it? We promise to be nicer, to be more involved in the community, to gossip less, and entering a new social group often just gives us the opportunity to make those same mistakes again, just with fresh faces.
Because change does not work that way. Entering a new place and just deciding to be different does to often work, because it is a forced entry. It is opportunistic rather than deep. It is not an earned change, but rather compulsory based on either criteria.
So how does change occur? Does starting fresh really ever work?
No dramatic irony here, so no answers. I am enjoying being in the moment.