Why the Old Men Wept

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. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth forever 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. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

Ezra 3:10-13

It was a day of great contrasts. The present had met the past; the new stood out from the old; youth’s vibrancy distinguished itself from the ancients’ solemnity; joyous songs diverged amid memories’ sorrow; laughter mixed with grieving; and shouts contrasted weeping.

It was a day of a work in progress and a day of lost yesteryears; a day of the here-and-now; a day of there-and-then; a time without past; and a past without time; a day of spectacle viewing and a day of musing on memories.

It was a day when the young men shouted and a day when …ancient men, that had seen the first house . . . wept with a loud voice.

Why did the old men weep?

* The old men, those ancients, recalled the glory and majesty of the first temple. But now fifty years had passed since the days of that former glory of the temple. The nation of Israel had rebelled against their God and as a consequence they lost it all, the King of Babylon had taken the temple’s gold and destroyed the temple, they left it in rubble and ruin. Yes, old men weep when they know what they have lost. – They wept because of what they had lost.

* They wept when they realized that their children and their grandchildren would never know the former glory they, instead, would grow up in a world with a different temple. Old men weep when they realize that their posterity will never know the sights and sounds of the former glory. – They wept because of what they had failed to have.

* They wept when the only thing in front of them now was a foundation of a “new” temple. How far removed it was from what the old men had known and now only remembered. Old men weep when new foundations are erected that are so different from the old foundations. – They wept because their “first love” was no longer the love of the present generation.

* They wept as they watched the zeal of the new overshadow the truth of the past. Old men weep when they witness all about them a future devoid of the past—a form of godliness without power. –They wept because one era had eclipsed another.

Jer 6:16 – Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.

— jlg —

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