“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (1:1-2)
This story line of the exile always dazzles me. The LORD was very specific about every detail.
Who: Everyone (except the extremely poor)
What: Forcibly removed from the promised land and taken into Exile by Babylon
When: 70 years, to make up for all the sabbatical years ignored
Where: Babylon, Media, Persia
Why: Because after hundreds of years of patience, the LORD had enough of their idolatry and disobedience
How: Initiated by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to be completed and returned by Cyrus, King of Persia
If the people of Israel were paying attention, they’d know what to expect.
Do you know what this reminds me of? Great parenting. Patience, hedged in my clear expectations, consequences and follow through; followed always by restoration.
It’s some new level of impressive to me that the LORD foretold what He was going to do through Cyrus and then it happened in a pretty generous way. He gave them so much freedom and resources, along with incredible wealth.
I want to know more about Cyrus’ relationship with the LORD. This “pagan” king knew he was appointed by God, and he took it very seriously. How else did that manifest in his reign, I wonder?
Was it this relationship that laid the groundwork for Magi to keep looking to the stars for centuries, waiting for a star to tell them the Jewish Messiah had arrived? I’m fascinated by all things Exile. When we, who until now have only seen the workings of God in the people of Israel, get a glimpse at His workings among the Kings of the East.
We often focus in on the places we expect God to be working. Places like a temple in Jerusalem or in our modern day churches. I love to remember that He is not bound. He is at work everywhere. And sometimes He anoints people we wouldn’t expect.
What a mighty God we serve.