Two ways to understand this passage
1. The People were eager to restore their identity as the people of God
Five characteristics that defined the these returned exiles as the people of God:
- Unity / They gathered together as one people (vs 1)
- Obedience / They sought to obey the Law of Moses by rebuilding the alter (vs 2)
- Courage / They rebuilt the alter even though they were fearful of their neighbors (vs 3)
- Sacrifices & Offerings / They offered sacrifices and offerings in their worship of God (vs 4-6)
- Service / Everyone had an appointed to task to rebuild the temple and serve God (vs 8-10)
Their love for God and their delight in Him is what led them be unified, obedient, courageous, sacrificial, and selfless. These were not a checklist or formula that resulted in joy to love God, rather they were a byproduct of a heart that already found joy in God as the center of their affection and worship.
2. The passage foreshadows God's plan of redemption for all this people
A sample of scripture that proclaims Jesus is the symbolism and meaning of the alter and temple:
Jesus came to redeem us by becoming the ultimate sacrifice to free us from sin and death. The rebuilding of the alter and temple foundation in this passage represent a "new beginning" - a promise that is already and yet to come.
1 Corinthians 13:12-13 say "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
We have great hope in our new beginning based on the promises of God, which identify us as the people of God. Let us seek to have great delight in the Lord and put him as the center of our affection.
"God doesn't work by formulas."
"There is a strong connection to what was, what is now, and what will be."
"If we struggle to delight in the Lord, we'll struggle to be obedient to Him."