Ezra 1: 1 - 3, The Decree of Cyrus
In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Those among you who belong to any part of his people, may their God be with them! Let them go up to Jerusalem in Judah to build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, that is, the God who is in Jerusalem.
A palm reader, astrology, a crystal ball, tarot cards or a psychic ? Who or what can reassure me about my future? Definitely not God! When you turn on your phone, television, computer or radio today you are usually bombarded by negative information that stirs up your emotions, making you anxious and worried about the future. God is no longer an option today. He has been banished from our everyday life. With all the suffering in this world, how can a loving and merciful God exist? If He's God, He can fix it! However, we have forgotten that God gave us the most precious gift of all - FREE WILL ! We are free to believe or not and to do whatever we want. God doesn't force anyone to love or pray to Him!
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh (Greek for sin); rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13)
Apparently Cyrus, the king of Persia, believed and had faith. He was a very pious Zoroastrian, trying to rule justly. The Jewish people had been living in captivity in Babylon for the past 70 years and Cyrus put an end to it by setting them free and telling them to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple, the house of the Lord (second temple). This was in fulfillment of the prophecy in the book of Isaiah.
I say of Cyrus, My Shepherd! He carries out my every wish, saying of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Lay its foundations." (Isaiah 44: 28)
Cyrus was a life saver for the Jewish people. Cyrus listened and obeyed the Spirit stirring within him. He took a gigantic risk, freeing thousands of Jews. His action changed the face of the Earth. God speaks to all of us, but in order to hear Him we have to trust Him, open up our hearts and listen. God has and continues to reveal His will through prophecy. Prophecy is the Holy Spirit speaking through someone to guide the Church. For example, Jesus's birth was prophesied 700 years earlier by Isaiah ! "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14).
Meet the Challenge
Who is your prophet? Who or what stirs up your spirit within you? So much information is out there that it is almost impossible to remain focused on the essential - The Word of God! The Word of God is living and never outdated! It usually reflects what's happening right now in each of our lives and the world we're living in. For example, in The Book of Wisdom of Ben Sira, "For the sake of profit many sin, and the struggle for wealth blinds the eyes. (Ben Sira 27:1) This was written over 2000 years ago! Let the Word of God stir up your spirit and give you inspiration. Pray to the Holy Spirit and ask for guidance before reading or listening to anything so that you can see the truth behind the lines. Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment.
Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens. Through all generations your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth. (Psalms 119: 89)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)
This week every time you feel an urge to look at social media, pick up the Bible, read a sentence and meditate upon it. You can even put a Bible App onto your phone. What is God trying to tell you personally ?
Come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit! Give me the desire to open the Bible and fill my heart with the living word, the Word of God. Help me to understand what Jesus is telling me today. How can I live His word in my everyday life? May my free will be a reflection of God's will for me as He is my heavenly Father and He knows what's best for me. Thank you Holy Trinity for the person that I am today and the person that I will become with Your loving guidance.
Let's Praise Him
Stir yourself up with the Holy Spirit this coming week!
Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Col 4:6