Friday, October 2, 2009

God Brings His People Back Home

I found Ezekiel to be hard to read.
All the deprecations and woe!

Daniel was this very talented, yet deeply spiritual man who lived his entire adult life away from his homeland. The book makes great reading, because the encounters with God are dramatic - and the results of God coming through even more so. Who has not heard of Daniel in the Lion's den? But Daniel dies in the land that captured him. Although he rose in the government ranks to be a long term, highly respected statesman, we last see him praying for the sins of his people. He is mourning that they are still in captivity, longing for the day when God would again bless them with peace and prosperity in their own land.

Along comes Cyrus. Here is what the prophet Isaiah says about Cyrus:
24God, your Redeemer,
who shaped your life in your mother's womb, says:"I am God. I made all that is...
He says to Jerusalem, "Be inhabited,"
and to the cities of Judah, "Be rebuilt,"
and to the ruins, "I raise you up."
He says to Ocean, "Dry up.
I'm drying up your rivers."
He says to Cyrus, "My shepherd—
everything I want, you'll do it."
He says to Jerusalem, "Be built,"
and to the Temple, "Be established."

Daniel prayed and fasted and repented, and there was activity in the heavens. He never saw with his eyes the result that he prayed for.

But God was doing dramatic things.

The opening words of the book written by Ezra, the priest...

1 -4In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—this fulfilled the Message of God preached by Jeremiah—God prodded Cyrus king of Persia to make an official announcement throughout his kingdom. He wrote it out as follows:
From Cyrus king of Persia, a Proclamation: God, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also assigned me to build him a Temple of worship in Jerusalem, Judah. Who among you belongs to his people? God be with you! Go to Jerusalem which is in Judah and build The Temple of God, the God of Israel, Jerusalem's God. Those who stay behind, wherever they happen to live, will support them with silver, gold, tools, and pack animals, along with Freewill-Offerings for The Temple of God in Jerusalem.
5 -6 The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites—everyone, in fact, God prodded—set out to build The Temple of God in Jerusalem. Their neighbors rallied behind them enthusiastically with silver, gold, tools, pack animals, expensive gifts, and, over and above these, Freewill-Offerings.
7 -10 Also, King Cyrus turned over to them all the vessels and utensils from The Temple of God that Nebuchadnezzar had hauled from Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods. Cyrus king of Persia put Mithredath the treasurer in charge of the transfer; he provided a full inventory for Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah

So, is God in charge of all of the events that happen in the world?

The Sunday School answer is, "Yes, of course."

But looking around us, and at history, it does not seem so obvious.

Daniel lived his entire life in captivity.

But Ezra gets to be there when God brings His people home...

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