Scripture reading for May 5th: Ezra 4-6
In today’s political climate, Christians often feel that elected officials are against them and hinder the work that they are called to do. For example, Christians have been working to reverse the law concerning abortion and have made much progress. The current administration has sought to reverse the progress and make abortion on demand available for everyone. It would be easy to get an attitude and loose heart!
Ezra recorded the spiritual battle for the rebuilding of the temple. When the Jews came to Jerusalem armed with the orders from Cyrus, they were immediately opposed by local political enemies. These enemies offered to help with the work, but really intended to hinder it. After they were refused, they changed tactics and wrote letters to the next king, Artazerxes. These letter brought accusations against the builders and caused the work to cease. (Ezra 4:18-23) The builders stopped work and left it unfinished for a time. Discouragement set in because of political and spiritual opposition!
God’s word cannot be hindered, however. God had spoken through Cyrus that His temple would be rebuilt! God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people. (Ezra 5:1-2) The eye of their God was upon them and another letter was sent to the next king, Darius. Darius made a search, found the decree of Cyrus, and enforced it! (Ezra 6:6-12) God does know how to change attitudes in political power! Where He guides He also provides! Darius ordered the bills paid by the royal treasury! (Ezra 6:8)
We must be careful to not become discouraged or let our attitude droop. God is in charge and can change the hearts of those in authority. God’s people must heed the prophetic word to continue the work on His house! Our focus must not change and our attitude must be positive! God watches over His word to bring it to pass!
“For seven days they celebrated with joy the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Lord had filled them with joy by changing the attitude of the king of Assyria, so that he assisted them in the work on the house of God, the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:22
Scripture reading for May 3rd: Ezra 1-3
The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” Proverbs 21:1
Are you worried when the politician of the ‘wrong’ party gets into office! Are you concerned when a leader may not make decisions you agree with or like. Even then, God is in control of pagan kings and He can turn their hearts to do His work. We are to pray for our leaders and trust the Lord to turn their hearts to do His will!
Cyrus, King of Persia was named by the prophet Isaiah as the one God would choose to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 44:26-28) This prophetic word occurred over 15o years before in 688 B.C. when Babylon was the ruling world power. Cyrus began fulfilling this prophesy by making the decree in 538 B.C. to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:2-4) He released Jews who wanted to go and was generous with them. He sent 5400 articles made of gold and silver from the temple which had been taken by King Nebuchadnezzar some 70 years earlier! (Ezra 1:9-10)
Ezra listed the numbers of people who returned as well. Priest, Levites, singers, gatekeepers and temple servants were all accounted for. The whole company was 42,360 Israelites, not counting servants. (Ezra 2:64-67) King Cyrus was generous with the people of God as well!
As we look at what transpired after the decreed 70 years of captivity (Jeremiah 29:10), we are amazed at how accurately God predicted what would happen and how and when it would come about! God is able to turn the hearts of those in leadership. It doesn’t matter if they are believers or not. It doesn’t matter what their background or nationality. God knows each person and uses them to fulfill His purposes.
Take time today and pray for our nation and it’s leadership. We are far from where God wants us to be and our leaders are doing things that are contrary to God’s word and will. Remember how God uses leaders and nations. When His people pray, He hears and acts. “The heart of the king (president, judge, senator, congressman) is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse where ever He pleases.” Proverbs 21:1