SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
“1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia:
All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.
4 And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem” Ezra 1:1-4.
“GOD IS NOT A MAN THAT HE SHOULD LIE, NOR A SON OF MAN, THAT HE SHOULD CHANGE HIS MIND. DOES HE SPEAK AND THEN NOT ACT? DOES HE SPEAK AND THEN NOT FULFILL?” Numbers 23:1 (NIV).
We live in a world where it has become very difficult to trust one another. Even among believers, it is not so easy to trust one another because many of us, if not most of us, are unfaithful. Faithfulness has become very scarce in Christian churches, Christians homes, Christian marriages, Christian organizations as well as Christian relationships. Human beings find it very difficult to keep to our promises to both men and God.
In spite of the weaknesses of men as far as faithfulness is concerned, God has always been faithful to his people. He has been faithful to all his people from time immemorial as scripture clearly shows. God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel is demonstrated in the Book of Ezra. In this edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we want to look at God’s faithfulness to his people as we find in Ezra 1:1-4.
God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to take the Jews into captivity to Babylon. But that was not just a punishment to the Jews, but to teach them lessons and bring them back to the Land he had promised to give them. Through the Prophet Jeremiah, God assured his people that after a period of seventy-years, He would send his people back to their Land. God’s word through Jeremiah was as follows:
“FOR THUS SAYS THE LORD: WHEN SEVENTY YEARS ARE COMPLETED FOR BABYLON, I WILL VISIT YOU, AND I WILL FULFILL TO YOU MY PROMISE AND BRING YOU BACK TO THIS PLACE. FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, DECLARES THE LORD, PLANS FOR WELFARE AND NOT FOR EVIL, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE.”
In spite of this assurance, many doubted it, thinking that like the northern part of the nation which never returned from exile, the Jews in the Southern part were never going to return to the Land after the exile. But God showed that he is the faithful God during the time of Ezra when he used King Cyrus to initiate the return of the Jews to their Land.
It is no gainsaying that Jeremiah’s prophecy took a long time without being fulfilled. Many who knew about it had died. Those who were alive might have also forgotten because they might have thought it would never be fulfilled. Many of the Jews in exile at that time might have given up any hope of returning to their Land. But God had not forgotten his promise to his people. He was working according to his own time schedule. This is not different from what we see among Christians of today. There are many Christians of our time who have forgotten that Jesus will come back as he promised. As a result they are living as if there is nothing like judgment day and are consequently living their lives anyhow. Many Christians sometimes doubt God’s promises to them after failing to see fulfillment within the periods they expected. But we all need to understand that God works according to his own time schedule and will surely fulfill his promises to us in his own time. His promises concerning our ministries, jobs, careers, marriages, education etcetera, shall all be fulfilled in his own time.
After several years in exile, God’s time to fulfill his promise to the Jews came. God decided to fulfill his promise to his people through very strange circumstances. This shows his authority over all human beings, whether pagan or Christian. God stirred up the heart of the pagan king Cyrus to show that God can use anybody at anytime to accomplish his purposes or to fulfill his promises to his people. God stirred up Cyrus’ heart to proclaim:
“THE LORD, THE GOD OF HEAVEN, HAS GIVEN ME ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH AND HAS APPOINTED ME TO BUILD A TEMPLE FOR HIM AT JERUSALEM IN JUDAH” Ezra 1:2.
Many would have taught that since God’s Temple is a holy edifice, the one commissioned to build it must be a righteous person as far human standards are concerned. But God chose to do it in a different way. He did not do what men would have wished to see or hear about. God decided to use a pagan king to fulfill his promises to his people. It shows that our ways are not God’s ways. His ways are always different from ours. He can do whatever he wishes to do at anytime without any consultations with any human being. This shows that God’s promises to us will be fulfilled in his own time without any consultations with anyone. It does not matter how long it would take. The God whom we serve is a covenant keeping God who always ensures that his promises to his people are fulfilled. We should also remember that when his time to fulfill his promises to us comes he may not use the conventional ways that we know, but can use any means beyond human imagination to fulfill them. So let us wait patiently for him to fulfill his promises to us.
Many of us may still be waiting for God to fulfill his promises to us this year. We may have expected some promises to be fulfilled in the year 2013 which were never fulfilled. I want to assure you that the LORD who fulfilled his promises to Israel after seventy years is still alive and active. His word shall surely be fulfilled in your life in the year 2014 and beyond. All you need to do is to wait patiently for him and trust him in all circumstances.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
See also: The Covenant Keeping God (Part 2)
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.