What we have heard and known, what our fathers told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:3-7 NIV
Isaiah was a prophet during a time of turmoil in Israel. The northern kingdom had fallen and Isaiah’s job was to speak truth to the southern kingdom, calling for a change in their fasting behavior in Chapter 58. He calls out their oppression, injustice, and cruelty to each other. He says the Lord calls them to share food, clothing and shelter with the needy, and “to set the oppressed free”, and “loose chains of injustice,” Isaiah 58:6. If they do, Isaiah 58:9 tells us, “Then you will call and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here I am.” Next he says if the people were to look after the needs of others, not oppress others, and stop “malicious talk” and pointing fingers, then, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings,” Isaiah 58:11-12.
In another passage, Ezra 3 8-13, we are given a picture of the first group of Israelites who returned from the Babylonian exile and their heart for God, for their desire to worship God, and to rebuild the temple. The author of Ezra tells us first they built the altar, and began making the daily sacrifices according to the law of Moses. Some of the people gave money, supplies, or labor to rebuild the temple. Contributions were from young and old, “Jeshua and his sons and brothers and Kadmiel and his sons (descendants of Hodaviah) and the sons of Henadad and their sons and brothers – all Levites – joined together in supervising those working on the house of God,” Ezra 3:9.
In the Ezra passage, the exiles had returned, they were repairing broken walls, and restoring the temple, raising up the age-old foundations, as Isaiah had said they would. Ezra 3 lists fathers, sons and brothers working on the supervision of the building together. I am sure conversations took place while fathers, sons, uncles and grandfathers were building together. Surely the older generations shared with the younger ones the Lord’s past miracles and praiseworthy deeds. Join me, share God’s faithfulness to us, across the generations this week.
By Grace Hunter