Things are looking up for God’s people! They’ve been released from exile and commissioned to return to Jerusalem to “rebuild the house of the Lord” (Ezra 1:3). Interestingly enough, they begin not by rebuilding the foundations, walls, etc., but by rebuilding the altar to resume offering sacrifices to the Lord. Their rebuilding actually began with the reorienting of their hearts and lives toward the One whom they were building a house for.
Not only did they worship before they worked, they worshiped while they worked–they labored with their hands, laying the foundations of the temple while they simultaneously lifted up their voices to sing, praise, and give thanks to the Lord (v. 10-11). It was a beautiful amalgamation of blood, sweat, and tears of joy.
But it wasn’t long until their work and worship were met with opposition. That shouldn’t be surprising–the enemy loves to disrupt God’s people from worshiping him and discourage them from working to advance his kingdom. It was true for the Israelites of the Old Testament, and it’s still true today.
Do you ever feel like your worship of God and work for God are met with constant resistance–disruption, distraction, or discouragement? It’s because they are. Your adversaries are not primarily rulers of foreign nations but demonic “rulers…authorities…cosmic powers…spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). You can be sure that anytime God’s name is exalted and God’s kingdom is advanced, your adversary, the devil, is working overtime to shut it down like a Chick-fil-a on Sunday.
But all his effort is ultimately in vain. His attempts to derail your worship and kingdom work are nothing more than him grasping at straws. Take heart! One day all of God’s people will worship together. We won’t gather in a temple made by the labors of our hands because there will be no need for a temple (Rev. 21:22)–the dwelling place of God will be among his people (Rev. 21:3).