3.25.2011

When God Moves



What would cause a pagan emperor to be concerned about the house of the Israelite God?
What would cause a pagan emperor to give up countless wealth in order to refurbish the temple? 
What would cause people to leave a prosperous nation for a barren land?

The children of Israel have been strangers in a strange land for 70 years. They are confused; they are losing their identity. They are almost ready to give up.

Then the new king, Cyrus of Persia, issues a decree that as many of them as so desire are allowed to go home to Judea. PLUS, he provides them with provisions, money, and the previously-stolen Temple treasures! 
So many people return, overjoyed to be back in the Holy Land.  They lay the foundation for the second Temple, and the reaction is mixed. Some (the young ones) are full of joy: they are on their way! The older folks weep in anguish: this temple is nothing like Solomon's temple.
But despite it's smaller size, it's still the temple. In progress.
Then comes the opposition. "We worship your God, too. Can't we help?" Wow, what a nice offer, coming from pagan, pantheistic enemies!  The Jewish leaders rightly refuse the request. "For what has the light to do with darkness?"
But our wonderful antagonists don't handle refusal well. They write a letter to the higher authority, King Artaxerxes. They complain about these rebellious Jews who are always causing trouble, and ask permission to stop them. Wish granted.
For 15 years, work on the temple ceased. The people were in fear of their own lives, not to mention being exiled again.
But then God gave them courage. It was now the appointed time. So they resume building.
Then our "friends" send another letter, to the new king, Darius. They ask if the original decree of Cyrus carries any weight, or if they can stop this work of rebellion.
But Darius does not fall for it. He looks in the records and sure enough, sees what Cyrus commanded. He not only gives permission for them to continue building and that they are to be undisturbed, he commands the wicked men to assist them dailywith provisions for the temple.

What would cause a pagan emperor to be concerned about the house of the Israelite God?
What would cause a pagan emperor to give up countless wealth in order to refurbish the temple?
What would cause people to leave a prosperous nation for a barren land?

Ezra 1:1 "In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heartof Cyrus king of Persia..." 

Ezra 1:5 "Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem."

Ezra 7:6 "...this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him.

Ezra 7:27-28 "Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me."

When God moves, my friends, there are no odds too great, no king too mighty, no people too stubborn, no NOTHING that can stand in His way. Nothing is impossible with our God. 

And when God moves in the hearts of men, trust Him. And let Him work the impossible.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Thanks for this post, Soph! It's a great one that I needed to read...wonderful how God works these things out, isn't it?:)