Focal Passages: Ezra 1:1-5; Nehemiah 8:1-6; Jeremiah 29:10-14
Do you really believe that God will work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28) when your current circumstances are terrible? When we walk by faith and not by sight we will sometimes stand on nothing but the promises of God. The people of Judah were told through the prophet Jeremiah that God had plans of prosperity and hope for His exiled people that would unfold in seventy years. In addition to the length of time, the people had to live those years in pagan Babylon. The people who endured captivity would observe the long stretch between divine promise and fulfillment. Christians are now in the midst of a much longer wait for Christ’s return. Will we stand on the promises of God?
As God prepared to keep His promise to the people of Judah, he used the Persians to conquer the Babylonians. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is sovereign over the universe and uses even unbelievers to bring about His purposes, some for judgment and others for blessing. When we hear missionaries pray for people of peace, they are asking God to lead them to helpers, often unbelievers, whom God will use to open doors for the gospel.
Imagine the joy the people of Judah must have felt when they saw foreign invaders defeating their captors and then opening the way for a new temple for God! God knows His plans for us and will fulfill them with greater beauty and joy than we could ever imagine.
After the temple and the wall had been rebuilt the people of Judah stood for hours to hear Ezra read the law. They responded with firm amens and bowed low to worship God, the same God they had previously forsaken and rejected in order to worship idols. After 70 years in idolatrous Babylon, idolatrous Judah realized they should never have forsaken the True Love found at home. Take an inventory of your blessings in the center of God’s will before you step out with the gods next door!