Obviously it's the new year and you would expect a blog about looking forward. Maybe remembering last year and making goals for 2018. Perhaps setting up how to have a successful year. None of those are bad, but my friend pointed out a Scripture passage that really resonated with me in light of the new year.
The passage is in the book of Ezra, which is the account of how the Israelites came back from being captive in Babylon. There home city of Jerusalem had been decimated and the center of their worship had been destroyed when they had been conquered decades earlier. Now they were coming back and rebuilding. One of the things they were rebuilding was the temple. They began the work and in Ezra 3 it is recorded how they finished the foundation. They had built / repaired the foundation to set up the rest of the work. It was amazing. It was exciting. God seemed to be finally relenting from punishing his people and he was moving positively instead. It was the first step to re-establishing worship in Jerusalem. It was so exciting, that we read how they celebrated. "10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid."
It was a big deal. It sounds like a great party. But what is striking is the verse that immediately follows. "12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy." Those who were older. The ones who remembered what it had been like before. The people who had seen what the temple used to be like - they cried. I wonder why. It could be that they were simply overcome that God had finally seen to start the rebuilding of the temple, but that doesn't really fit. I wonder if they were seeing the difference between what was happening now and what had happened before and it was depressing. Things weren't going to be the same. It wouldn't look the same. They had lost something and it wasn't going to come back. They remembered the good ol' days. The glory days. And in doing so, they were not celebrating what God was doing right in front of them.
It seems there is a lesson in there. It can be so easy to face the new year and measure what God is doing based on what he did before. While it is important to remember, to appreciate and learn from the past, God is always up to something new. He is moving. He is not static. And it might be that the very thing that you are going to go through this year that doesn't seem quite as good as before, is actually God doing something really amazing. So know your past. Appreciate your past. Be thankful for what God has done. But keep your eyes on where he is going now. You don't want to miss it.
Weldon Lemke has been leading Hope Chapel since 2009 with a passion to see people come to know God and grow to maturity in Him.