Then the people of Israel the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy (Ezra 6:16).
When the people laid the new temple's foundation, those who had seen Solomon's temple wept as they remembered its former magnificence (See Ezra 3:12 and Haggai 2:9). They wondered aloud how the new could possibly compare with the old
But when they dedicated the new temple after its completion, the people rejoiced. And with good reason. God had closed the book on the past. Israel's sins sank into the sea of His forgetfulness. The people could now move into the future and leave the past where it belonged.
Christians can learn a valuable lesson from this bit of history. Many of us look over our lives and discover our "temple" spoiled by sin. We weep to realize how close we’ve come to destruction – or in some cases, how our temples have suffered destruction.
It took years of arduous labor to rebuild Solomon's temple. But we can become God's temple in a moment, through the Sacrament of baptism. After our baptism, we are a re-cleansed temple through the Sacrament of confession.
And in that instant of time, the old self cannot compare in majesty to what is now new.
Think for a moment what that means. Our sins – all of them – vanish into God's forgetfulness. The past disappears like a vapor. The almighty and glorious Lord of Heaven takes residence in our bodies. We become His temple.
No wonder angels rejoice when God's prodigals come home.
And we have good reason to rejoice, too.