Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid.
But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.
Ezra 3:11b-13 New Living Translation
The laying of the new temple’s foundation brought a great amount of emotion among the people that were there. Many shouted for joy at the prospect of having a new place to worship Yahweh. The older priests who were there wept, though. There was a deeper emotion in them because they were among the few people who would have remembered the first temple built by Solomon.
It’s uncertain why the older priests wept. Their tears may have been tears of joy at remembering the good old days and the role the temple played in their culture. It is generally believed that this temple was smaller and more basic than the one built by Solomon. So, there may have been a certain amount of lament in the tears of the older priests. They may have remembered the grandeur of the old temple and the prosperity it represented. Zerubbabel’s temple was built in a time of poverty. They didn’t have the wealth they had before. Whatever the reason for the weeping of the older generation, God was doing something new in Jerusalem. God was still at work carrying out His plan for the redemption of the world He created.
A good question to ask ourselves is how we respond when we think about the past. Do we look back with nostalgia at the good old days when things were better? Do we lament that things are not like they used to be? Or do we look ahead with anticipation of what God may be doing in the future?
God, thank you for the good memories of the past. Thank you also that you are always at work no matter the appearance of things from the outside. Help us not to get so fixated on the past that we lose sight of what You are doing now and in the future