The Old Men Wept
King Cyrus of the Medo-Persian Empire by revelation of God declared the release of the captive Jews to rebuild the temple of the Lord in 536 BC. With the vessels of the temple in hand, an estimated group of less than 50,000 returned to build. In the seventh month of that year, the children of Israel began to again sacrifice to the Lord in Jerusalem. In the second year, they laid the foundation (Ezr 3:11-13):
And they sang one to another in praising and giving thanks unto Jehovah, saying, For he is good, for his lovingkindness endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised Jehovah, because the foundation of the house of Jehovah was laid.
But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, the old men that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off. “
In this piece of History, we see Israel doing the work they were set free to do. When the foundation of the temple is laid, there is relief and a sense of accomplishment that gives rise to joyful praise of the Lord. Then, a contrast occurs. It is much like the cry of victory on a battlefield coming to the horrific silence and realization of the great loss that has been suffered. Old men who had seen the temple before, begin to weep in a loud voice. They see the temple as did the eyes of Haggai prophesying to the Lord (Haggai 2:3):
“Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes as nothing?”
The Solomonic Temple covered in Gold, rising twice as high, and more expansive including the ark of the Lord, could never be mistaken for what laid before Israel. The temple build by Zerubabbel and later restructured by Herod would never compare favorably. The old men wept for what had been. They wept for the Spirit of God which abided with the temple. They wept over the corruption that had taken place. They wept because the prior glory of Israel in God, was gone.
Today, there is a gulf among Christian generations which many do not understand. The masses shout joyfully in praise over innovations. They draw crowds with choices of traditional or contemporary worship. They lure the world to congregational assemblies with children’s church, community meals, drama, waves of emotion, youth ministers, grandiose presentations, and a come as you are atmosphere with sermonic words that are designed to tickle ears and fill pews. The air is like that of a community picnic or social club. The focus is the comfort and pleasing of man. And the old men weep. They weep over the days when families came in reverence to worship. They weep remembering open Bibles, deep lessons, respectful and modest dress, children worshipping with parents, voices raised in song where God was the audience, and the gospel of Christ was the motivation that humbly brought them. The weep over the memory of families taking care of the social and the gathering of the Church to worship focused on the spiritual.
The Temple which Solomon built, could never be nor will ever be brought back. The men of Israel wept. Christians now weeping over the Church that Christ established can bring back what once was and should be.
Romans 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Deuteronomy 5:32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as Jehovah your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.