ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH

Today's devotion from Ezra 1.

Ezra picks up the story from the point where the chronicler trailed off. Following the Persian defeat of Babylon, Cyrus credits God with giving him all the kingdoms of the earth. Overthrowing Babylon would have surely felt like conquering much of the known world. Perhaps as a response to victory, Cyrus then feels charged to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

In order to accomplish this goal, he releases the Israelite captives to return to Jerusalem, but he doesn't stop there. Cyrus actually issues by royal decree an initiative to supply the endeavor with "silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem" by means of the citizens of his kingdom.

Near the conclusion of Ezra 1, we read of the vast numbers of precious items and supplies that had been given to the project. We read of gold and silver. Cyrus even gives the Israelites back the items taken from the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in the first place. It truly is remarkable how all of this undertaking comes together.

That is what is so remarkable about this chapter all together.

Since you are reading a religious blog, I'll assume that you are a religious person and probably reading these words from a religious perspective. Then lens through which you think and interpret is tinted in such a way that when you read a question, you automatically go to the "churchy" answer. Therefore, you are also probably not surprised by this account. In fact, you're probably familiar with it at least to a small degree.

I would ask that you look at the account with fresh eyes and see anew the unimaginable happening. For example, we live in one of the greatest nations in history. I truly believe that. Yet, even with our financial strength and technological prowess, we still seem to balk at certain things. For all our talk about freedom, we appear to like global entanglement in which we use our power to sway other sovereign nations in our direction. (Think about the relationships we have with Puerto Rico, the American Samoa territory, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. Some of these still smack of colonialism.)

We are not about to relinquish power, and we're still unsettled on immigration policy. Yet, here is an emerging superpower that is decreeing that an entire nation of displaced exiles is free to return to their homeland and begin rebuilding. That's amazing, but it is not surprising. The God who had the power to give Cyrus the kingdoms of the world has the power to use those kingdoms to restore His people. In Cyrus' decree he is admitting that he is not the supreme ruler, but even he answers to one higher.

As we wrestle with globalization and the modern world, it is important for us to remember that we need not fear that world. It is dark and scary, but our Father is in control...even of those who are in control of us. And His desire to build His Kingdom has not changed. However, now His emphasis is not on a temple in Jerusalem, but in building on the Cornerstone enthroned in Heaven.