“With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: ‘He is good; his love to Israel endures forever.’ And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.” (Ezra 3:11)
What a wonderful day! After 70 years of Babylonian captivity, the people of Israel find themselves back in Jerusalem, re-laying the foundation for the temple of God that had been in ruins for so many years! What a call for rejoicing! But . . . “many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise . . .” (Ezra 3:12,13).
In this great moment of Jewish history, there should have been nothing but rejoicing. Instead, there was so much sorrow mixed in that no one could distinguish the shouts of joy from the weeping. Why? Because instead of praising God for their safe return to their home and the chance to rebuild the temple, there were those who wept for what they had lost.
Can you imagine how demoralizing that must have been to the younger Jews, so excited about rebuilding the house of God? But isn’t it often the case that the enemy works the hardest among God’s own people? What better way to stop the work of the Lord than by creating internal discouragement? Beware of the internal works of the devil. Be ever alert to recognize his evil ways. Keep yourselves grounded in the Scripture and in your relationship with God, so that when “the enemy shall come in like a flood”, the Spirit of the Lord will be able to “lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19)!