What stirs your heart? How has God moved your heart?
Reflect on these questions as you read Ezra 1:1-5 and listen to this week’s sermon.
Israel’s sins led them into exile from their Promised Land, first under Babylon and then Medo-Persia. Before the exile began, Jeremiah prophesied the desolation of the land and a seventy-year servitude to Babylon (Jer 25:11). Yet, God promised to bring them back after the appointed time (Jer 29:10).
Even 150 years before Cyrus was born, Isaiah made some amazing prophecies, under God’s inspiration, about Cyrus rebuilding the Temple. God called Cyrus by name, declaring him as the one who would rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple’s foundations:
“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.” (Isa 44:28)
“I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward.” (Isa 45:13)
True to the prophecies, in Ezra 1:1, we see that “the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus” at the beginning of his reign, prompting him to allow the Jewish exiles to return and rebuild the Temple. This was the fulfillment of Jeremiah and Isaiah’s words. Cyrus acknowledged that God had appointed him for this task (v.2).
Upon hearing Cyrus’ decree, the Jewish exiles must have been filled with hope for restoration and salvation. God was fulfilling His promise to bring them back to Israel, allowing them to rebuild the Temple, the center of their worship.
Captivated by this vision, many Jewish exiles desired to be part of God’s plan for restoration and revival. Not only the family heads, but “everyone whose heart God had moved” (Ezra 1:5), prepared to join in to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.
Consider what stirs your heart and how God is moving you. Let us pray that each of us catches God’s vision for renewal, restoration, and revival at St. George’s Church. Once we grasp His purpose, may we unite with passion to be part of His great work.