Study Notes

Ezra 3:10-13


We are now beginning our third study in the book of Ezra. As you recall, God stirred the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to let the Jews in his kingdom go back to the land of Israel, from which they had come 70 years before in the Babylonian Captivity.

When the people came back, they settled in their respective towns until the holidays came around. Because the seventh month on the Jewish calendar consisted of the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles (all within a couple of weeks of each other), the people gathered at Jerusalem and offered sacrifices on the newly built altar of sacrifice. The temple itself, however, had not yet been built.

So the people gave money to begin the project. Stoneworkers and woodworkers were hired and materials were ordered. The project began, and the Levites oversaw the work that was being done.

3:10 Builders Laid The Foundation

There was still much to be done before the temple was considered finished, but when the basic structure was built to the point of being able to hold a worship service in it, they held one.

The Priests' Apparel

The first people mentioned in this service are the priests. If you recall our study of Numbers chapter three, you remember that these were men from the tribe of Levi. However, not all of the Levites were priests.

Actually, the tribe of Levi was divided up into three groups. Since Levi had three sons, Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (Exodus 6:16), the tribe was defined by these three clans. Each clan was in charge over a certain area or aspect of the temple.

Aaron had been from the clan of the Kohathites, and so a select number of the Kohathites were priests. All that is to say that all of the priests were Kohathites, but not all Kohathites were priests. Got it?

The priests' apparel mentioned here were the tunics, sashes and caps that they wore (Exodus 28:40). A hundred of the priestly garments had been donated by the heads of fathers' households back in chapter two (Ezra 2:69).


The priests also had trumpets. Trumpets were an integral part of worship in the temple. They would blow the trumpets to convene the assembly (Num. 10:7-8), and blow them over the sacrifices (Num. 10:10).

Sons Of Asaph

Another division of the Levites were the sons of Asaph. These descendants of Gershon (1Chr. 6:39-43) were singers and players of musical instruments. They were what we would call today the "worship team."

This order came about during the days of King David when, as he was planning to bring the ark of the covenant back from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem. In 1Chronicles 15,

1Chr. 15:16 ...David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

People from all around the tribe of Levi were appointed to this duty - the long list is given in 1Chronicles 15. At the end of the trip, when the ark was in its place in the tabernacle,

1Chr. 16:7 Then on that day David first assigned Asaph and his relatives to give thanks to the LORD.

Their ministry would be to praise the Lord and give thanks with singing, cymbals, and musical instruments.

3:11 Sang

The priests, the Levites, and the sons of Asaph sang. When they did, they praised and gave thanks to Him, proclaiming His goodness and His mercy. These are themes that we must never forget as we worship the Lord. God is good, and His mercy endures forever.


Notice this detail as well:

Ezra 3:11 ...all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the LORD because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

It is interesting to me that when people are over-exuberant in their worship in church nowadays, they are scoffed at, written off by people saying, "They are so immature. They need to grow up, to get established in the Word better." But notice here that it is the people with a foundation who shout when they praise the Lord.

It is really discouraging to me when I realize that the instructions given regarding worship are largely neglected by the very churches that teach the Scriptures which contain these exhortations!

The Bible says,

Ps. 47:1 O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.

Ps. 134:2 Lift up your hands to the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.

1Chr. 16:9 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders.

When we worship the Lord, do you clap your hands, shout to God, lift up your hands, and sing to Him? If not, why not? Usually the answer given is, "Well, I don't want to look foolish. I would appear to be a complete geek." Well, those are your issues to deal with. I, for one, have nothing but respect for people who leave their pride at the door and worship with a whole heart. The Bible says,

Ps. 33:1 SING for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright.

Praise is becoming to the upright. Becoming - it makes you look good. The Hebrew means that it literally makes you look beautiful.

I would encourage you to become a demonstrative worshipper. Clapping your hands, shouting to God, lifting up your hands, and singing to Him are all actions that we are Biblically exhorted to practice.

3:12-13 Old Men's Sadness

It is interesting that in the midst of this worship service going on, there were some "party poopers" in the crowd. These were the older folks. But they weren't being a wet blanket because they didn't understand "this younger generation and their 'rock 'n roll' worship." No, they were upset because they'd seen Solomon's temple in all its beauty, majesty, and awe-inspiring design... and this new building wasn't even close!

It was at this time that the Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai to the people.

Hag. 2:1 On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet saying, "Speak now to Zer-oob-baw-BEL the son of shal-tee-ale', governor of Judah, and to Yeh-ho-SHOO-ah the son of Yeh-ho-tsaw-DAWK, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people saying, ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? But now take courage, Zer-oob-baw-BEL,' declares the LORD, ‘take courage also, Yeh-ho-SHOO-ah son of Yeh-ho-tsaw-DAWK, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,' declares the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,' says the LORD of hosts. As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!' For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD of hosts. The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' declares the LORD of hosts. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, ‘and in this place I shall give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts."

God was telling them not to stress out about the humble appearance that this temple had compared to Solomon's temple. He encouraged them that although this temple didn't look like much, His Spirit was abiding in their midst. Not only that, but someday He was going to see to it that this temple was upgraded with a lot of wealth.

God also spoke to another prophet in those days - a prophet named Zechariah. Zechariah wrote,

Zech. 4:8-10 Also the word of the LORD came to me saying, "The hands of Zer-oob-baw-BEL have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish {it.} Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zer-oob-baw-BEL - {these are} the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth."

In the kingdom of God, there are seasons of wealth and seasons of poverty. Sometimes things will be abundant, and sometimes we will think that we are lacking anything good. But like the Apostle Paul said,

Phil. 4:11-13 ...I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

What is your content quotient? Are you someone who loudly praises God for the little that you have? Or are you a groaner, a mumbler, and a complainer over the fact that you don't have as much as you used to?

1Ths. 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

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