In Chapter 19 of The Story we read that God supernaturally moved the king of Persia to send some of the Israelites back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Not only did he send them with his blessing
and with the articles that had been carried off from the temple when Jerusalem was conquered, but he required his own people to give those returning to Jerusalem gold, silver, livestock, and other parting gifts. Nearly 50,000 people returned to Jerusalem and immediately rebuilt the altar, resumed making sacrifices, and began to rebuild the temple by laying its foundation. But they quickly became discouraged by others who didn't want the temple rebuilt and soon succumbed to the distractions of fulfilling their own needs and desires rather than obeying God. Rather than putting “first things first” (God's priorities first) they chose to focus on their own priorities and the work on the temple stopped for ten years. But God sent them a wake-up call through his prophets who reminded the people of the pointlessness of self-centered living. Given the futility of their self-centered living, God instructed the people to “give careful thought to their ways” – their lived-out priorities. What are God's priorities? What are our priorities? Are God's priorities our priorities?