The World in God’s Hands
Lord, as I read Your Word, help me to grow in understanding of how You work in the world.
Read Ezra 1:1–11
 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 heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:  “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.  Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.  And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.'”  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.  All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.  Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.  Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.  This was the inventory: gold dishes 30 silver dishes 1,000 silver pans 29  gold bowls 30 matching silver bowls 410 other articles 1,000  In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow is prophecy fulfilled in this passage?
Maybe there have been times when, as you pray for the world, you wonder whether God really hears and acts. The people of God in Ezra’s time must have asked the same question. Many of them were taken to Babylon in exile when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem fifty years previously. Now (in 539 BC) Cyrus, the Persian king, has conquered the Babylonians. His policy was to win the loyalty of the people he conquered by allowing them freedom to return to their homelands. God, unknown to the world, gave Cyrus the strength to defeat the Babylonians. He prompted Cyrus (not a believer in Israel’s God) to allow the people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Verse 1 makes it clear that God was at work in order to fulfill prophecies from Jeremiah 50:9 and 51:11. How might the way God used Cyrus have encouraged God’s people? God’s Spirit is also at work in other ways. Look at verses 5, 6 and 7. How would you describe the Spirit’s work in these verses?
Think of a country where there is unrest. Pray for that country, trusting that God is active to bring redemption.
Lord, help me to trust that You are at work even when I do not see how.