November 25, 2020 – Wednesday
Ezra 3:11 NIV
11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward 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.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, today is Thanksgiving Eve, and of course Friday is the day after Thanksgiving so in honor of Thanksgiving I would like to do three days looking at Thanksgiving in the Bible. There is plenty to choose from as there are 30 references to Thanksgiving in the Old Testament and 17 in the New Testament in the NIV. Numbers vary slightly in other versions. Go here to find how many references there are in your favorite version.
The celebration and thanksgiving in our verse for the day results not just from the foundation of the Lord being laid. But because this gave them great hope the temple would in due time be rebuilt and temple services would be restored as well. However, the emotions concerning the new foundation were mixed as the next two verses show, 12 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. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away.
Why such disparate reactions? Barnes’ Notes on the Bible tells us It is implied that the dimensions of the second temple were smaller than those of the first. Hence, the feeling of sorrow which came upon some. They, however, who had not seen the former temple, and so could not contrast the two, naturally rejoiced to see the sanctuary of their religion begin to rise from its ruins. The Pulpit Commentary adds It was “the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10). The new house, in comparison with the old one, was “as nothing” (Haggai 2:3). The difference was perhaps not so much in the dimensions as in the size and quality of the foundation-stones (1 Kings 5:17), the excellence of the masonry, and the like. Solomon had employed the best workmen of one of the greatest of the Tyrian kings; Zerubbabel had only the arms of his own subjects to depend upon.
Such may be true, but it was still a time of Thanksgiving. They would have a temple again. The glass is half full and will be full again. The glass may be different, but the focus should be on the blessings not on the shortfalls as it were.
Some bonus information: It was on October 3, 1789 in New York, that President George Washington made a Thanksgiving Proclamation and assigned Thursday the 26th day of November as the day to be set aside to give thanks to God for all the blessings we as a nation experience.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – Let us remember to give You our Thanksgiving, day in and day out for all the blessings you bring to our lives. – In Jesus name. Amen.