And so after about ten months, we finally come to the end of II Chronicles. Sometimes I thought we’d never get to the end of Kings and Chronicles.
But here, and at the beginning of Ezra, we see the return of the Jews to their homeland. How did it come about? Cyrus made a proclamation in the first year of his reign saying,
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! (Ezra 1:2-3)
That first verse there struck me. “[Yahweh] has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build Him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”
Why did he say that? Considering that the Persians had their own gods, why did he give credit to the God of the Jews? Probably because of what God had said through Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah had written, years before Cyrus was born,
[God] says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.'”(Isaiah 44:28)
This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut… so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isaiah 45:1,3)
I believe that it was because of these words that Cyrus said what he did, and allowed the Israelites to return, giving them back all the temple items that had been taken by Nebuchadnezzar, and commanding the Israelites’ neighbors to support them with gold, silver and other things for the rebuilding of the temple. And with Cyrus’ blessing, the Israelites returned just as God had said.
Just as God called Cyrus to accomplish his purposes, so God has called us to do the same. We were not called to live for ourselves. We were not called for our own purposes. God has called us by name that we might live for him.
Paul put it this way,
And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (II Corinthians 5:15)
Who are you living for? God has not only called you for his purposes, he has called you by name. Will you answer the call?