10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid. Ezr. 3:10-11
Notice that Israel sang and praised God, and that the people shouted with a great shout only after the the foundation of the house of the Lord had been laid. In other words, the reason for their rejoicing was because the temple foundation had been laid.
Before that, the children of Israel had been in captivity, and the enemy had destroyed the temple down to the foundation. But now God had visited them again, and they had began to build the temple.
The Bible says that we are the temple of the living God and that the Spirit of God dwells in us (1 Cor. 3:16). There is no way you can build a temple before you have laid the foundation.
The foundation of the temple that God is building in us as believers in Christ is “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Before we even begin talking about the temple, we must first consider its foundation. If we do not catch the revelation of the cross in our hearts, we cannot build the church of Jesus Christ. The foundation of this new temple is humility and brokenness.
But, alas! today we see that the church submitting itself to other gospels. The church is in captivity to many other gospels. The church is looking for other things other than the inner work of the cross.
That is why the church today is a church in exile. The church may be shouting on the outside, but in the Spirit the church has nothing to shout about. The children of Israel were wiser than we; when they were in captivity they asked, “How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” (Ps. 137:4)
They just couldn’t do it.
Today we ought to be mourning for how far the church has been taken from her borders. We can only truly rejoice when we have returned our lives onto God’s chipping block, the cross.
[Below: Moshi Town, with the beautiful Mt. Kilimanjaro towering in the background]