A Joyful Celebration

KEY VERSE: “The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.” —Ezra 6:16


THE BOOKS OF Ezra and Nehemiah both tell the story of the restoration of the Israelites to their homeland after seventy years of bondage in Babylon. Darius, an able and effective Persian king, continued Cyrus’ policy of restoring Israel. In his second year as king the Jews resumed work on the still unfinished Temple in Jerusalem.

Cyrus had decreed that “the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices” (Ezra 6:3), and “the golden and silver vessels … be restored, and brought again unto the Temple which is at Jerusalem.”—vs. 5

Darius ordered it to continue, and even sent a generous subsidy to help restore worship in the Temple, which was completed by the elders of the Jews in the sixth year of Darius’ reign. They “finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius.”—Ezra 6:14

It was smaller in size and could not compare to the great beauty and ornamentation of Solomon’s Temple, which had been destroyed about ninety years earlier. Nevertheless, the dedication of God’s Temple was a notable experience to both the Lord and the people returned from captivity in Babylon. This event serves to illustrate the consecration of the antitypical temple, soon to be completed with ‘living stones’, for the indwelling of God’s Spirit in his kingdom.—I Pet. 2:5

When the typical Temple was completed, “the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.” (vs. 16) The priests were arranged in their divisions and the Levites in their courses for the service of God in Jerusalem, as written in the book of Moses. After the priests and Levites were purified, celebration of the Passover and the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread were kept with joy.

When the people had been purified, they, too, could celebrate these festivals according to the Law of Moses: “The children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat, and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the Lord had made them joyful.”—vss. 21,22

God commanded Israel to remember their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. “Ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.”—Exod. 12:17

In this account, God demonstrates his providence and his mighty power by which he released Israel from seventy years of bondage in Babylon so they might return to Israel. Also, as a type, we have a beautiful illustration pointing to God’s future deliverance of the world of mankind from the bondage of sin and death. This is the time when, through God’s kingdom, all the families of the earth are blessed.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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