“… the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people.” Ezra 3:13
Cyrus king of Persia made a proclamation that began the return of Israel after a 70 year absence to the land promised to Abraham and his descendants. Zerubbabel led the first group having the responsibility of rebuilding the temple and re-establishing worship of the Lord.
Upon the laying of the foundations for the temple there was a mixed response. The younger people “shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord” (v 11) but the older generation who had seen Solomon’s temple “wept with a loud voice” (v 12).
The younger generation rejoiced because they had not had a place to worship the Lord before. The older generation lamented the loss of the grandeur of Solomon’s temple compared to this comparatively insignificant building. This was not a return to the days when the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
Being a “baby boomer” this writer has observed a similar change over three or four generations. (Please overlook the generalisations that produce individual inaccuracies and consider the main point and application of what follows.)
The generation that produced the “baby boomers” approached worship of the Lord with solemnity clothed in quietness with a reverent fear. In the 1960’s and 70’s they lamented the less solemn approach of the “baby boomers”. Worship of the Lord for this generation had become more casual at the heart level although the outward trappings were generally retained. They still dressed in their “Sunday best” and the worship services were inclined to start in a quiet and reflective environment. Appearance for the older generation’s sake was required.
Successive generations have done away with pretence. The quietness in approach to worship has been replaced with the discussion of the current sporting or political activities or TV programmes. The reflective quiet approach to worship has been replaced by a casual and celebrative atmosphere. The worship mood is contrived by those on the platform without the necessity of inner worship led by the Holy Spirit. He has been replaced by the “Worship Leader”.
The older generation weep over what has been lost and the younger generation rejoice over what they have but the glory of the Lord is departing. Earlier generations were in awe of the witness of the Holy Spirit but today we are in awe of the technological innovations of men. The artificial has replaced the genuine and those who knew the genuine weep while the younger generation rejoice in the artificial.