Two years ago before my husband and I took a trip to Europe for our wedding anniversary, I started delving into our family history on Ancestry.com. I knew that most of my family members came from Germany. With a maiden name like “Hess”, it was obvious.
One of my family members, my great, great grandfather, drew my interest as he had fought in the Civil War. His name was Daniel Hess and he came from Darmstadt, Germany along with his parents in 1848. At the age of 22, he enlisted in the 100th Regiment, Company B of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry to fight on behalf of the Union. I am amazed he survived this brutal war that killed so many good men either from a bullet or disease or both. He and his regiment fought in many battles in Tennessee and Kentucky before joining Sherman’s March to the Sea.
|Home destroyed near Atlanta, GA|
In the same way, the exiles of Judah who had returned to their land felt hopeless as they saw the utter destruction of their Temple and the city of Jerusalem. During the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, however, he allowed those who had been in captivity to return to the land with gold and silver that had been taken from the Temple. God’s Spirit had so moved the King’s heart that what seemed impossible was now coming to pass (Ezra 1). When the exiles returned, they set to work first on the Temple to rebuild its foundation under Zerubbabel.
When the Temple foundation was again laid, the people, led by the priests, praised, shouted and rejoiced in what God had done (Ezra 3). However, there were those older men who cried both for joy as well as sorrow over what had been lost as well. What a picture of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness we see demonstrated here! In the middle of hopeless destruction, God will once again raise up the Temple from the ruins. It will take another 92 years before the walls and gates of Jerusalem will be fully restored under the leadership of Nehemiah, but God sees to it that the work He has begun in restoring the land is completed. The Lord is faithful in bringing restoration and salvation to His people.
Often times in our lives, we face trials and battles for which we feel unprepared. Looking at the death of a loved one, a depleted bank account, joblessness or a host of other scenarios can leave us feeling like my great, great grandfather as he witnessed homes being destroyed. Ruins all around us can obscure the vision of God who is sovereign over all of life’s affairs. He is never far from us though it may seem that He is absent. We need to know and believe that God can create something even better out of our ruins.
Whatever the state of our lives, we have an advocate and Master builder who can restore what the enemy has stolen from us. The Creator redeems our lives and rebuilds us brick by brick as we continue to seek His face.
Today, if you pass through the cities of the South, the neighborhoods are beautiful and no signs of the devastating war can be seen. Our lives are like that in the hands of our Sovereign God. He is the “Rebuilder”, “Restorer” and the Resurrection. When we trust in Him, He will once again restore our hope and joy. Let us take, in prayer, the ruins of loss, heartache and trouble to Him who alone has the power to restore what the enemy has stolen from us. We, too, will rejoice as the Children of Judah when we see the Temple of our heart rebuilt and walls of our protection restored.