God Is Not Done Yet.
“This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are the Lord’s people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you.'” – 2 Chronicles 36:23 NLT
All the prophecies of Jeremiah came true. Everything he had warned the people about actually took place. Judah had fallen and the people had been taken captive to Babylon. Those few who were left rebelled against the Babylonians, killing the governor appointed by King Nebuchadnezzar, and causing them to run away to Egypt for protection. The land was left desolate. “So the message of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The land finally enjoyed its Sabbath rest, lying desolate until the seventy years were fulfilled, just as the prophet had said” (2 Chronicles 36:21 NLT). If the book of Chronicles ended here, it would be a sad story indeed. The people were captives in a pagan land. The land itself was empty and the cities were vacant shells, devoid of life. The Temple was destroyed and the sacrificial system had been abandoned. And this would go on for 70 long years. But all during this time, God kept communicating to His people through prophets like Daniel and Ezekiel. He would continue to call them to repentance. He would continue to assure them that He was not done with them. They would one day return to the land and He would reestablish His relationship with them. The Temple would be rebuilt and sacrifices would once again be made on behalf of the people. The book of 2 Chronicles ends with the words, “In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus…” (2 Chronicles 36:22 NLT).
In spite of man’s failure, God was going to prove His faithfulness yet again. He was going to fulfill what He had promised. The seventy years of captivity was up, and it was time to restore the people to the land. So God, the sovereign God of the universe, stepped into time and moved the heart of a pagan king to make a proclamation on behalf of His people. King Cyrus, the ruler of Persia, was going to be used by God to restore the people of God to the land. God had already used Persia to destroy Babylon, now He was using Persia to accomplish His will for Judah. It is amazing to read the words of a pagan king speaking on behalf of the God of Israel:
“The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses by giving them silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock, as well as a voluntary offering for the Temple of God in Jerusalem.” – Ezra 1:2-4 NLT
God was going to show grace and mercy to His people once again. He was graciously going to restore them to favor and reestablish their presence in the Land of Promise. He miraculously moved the heart of a pagan king to decree not only the return of the people, but the restoration of the Temple. Cyrus would even encourage his own people to help defray the cost of the reconstruction of the Temple, as well as the expenses associated with their return trip to the land. After years of rebellion, rejection, and stubborn refusal to follow the commands of God, the people were going to experience the unmerited favor of God in an amazing way.
What an incredible reminder of the character of the God we serve. His justice required that He deal justly and rightly with the sins of His people. He could not overlook their sin. But His unfailing love was expressed through His grace and mercy as He restored them to the land and to fellowship with Him. His faithfulness required that He keep His promises, in spite of all they had done to prove their own unfaithfulness. He had to rebuke, but He also restored. He had to punish, but He also pardoned. A new chapter is about to begin in the life of the people of God. They are being given a new opportunity to serve Him. He is once again setting them apart for His service and His glory. The story is not yet over. God’s grace and mercy have not been exhausted. His patience has not run out. He remains committed to His promises and determined to complete His redemptive plan for mankind. And the same holds true today.
Father, You are not done yet. You are still at work in the world, renewing the lives of men and reestablishing a right relationship with those whom You choose. Thank You for restoring me to a right relationship with You almost 50 years ago. And thank You for the patience, mercy and grace You have shown to me over the years. You are not done with me yet, and for that I am eternally grateful. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men