Scripture Union Encounter With God 10th August 2020 Devotional – A Second Exodus
TODAY’S TOPIC: A SECOND EXODUS
Opening Prayer: Lord, Your ways are beyond our level of understanding.
Read EZRA 1 – Cyrus Helps the Exiles to Return
1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. 4 And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
Encounter With God 10th August 2020 Devotional
5 Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6 All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
7 Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.[a] 8 Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
9 This was the inventory:
gold dishes 30
silver dishes 1,000
silver pans[b] 29
10 gold bowls 30
matching silver bowls 410
other articles 1,000
11 In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
a Ezra 1:7 Or gods
b Ezra 1:9 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.
New International Version (NIV)
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“How unsearchable [are God’s] judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33).
Think Further: Scripture Union Encounter With God 10th August 2020
God often has wonderful ways of surprising us. In this case, it concerns the person he chooses to facilitate the Jews’ return from captivity in Babylon in what constitutes a second exodus (the first being when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt around 900 years earlier). That person is Cyrus king of Persia, who has commandeered what was left of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires to become lord of all the peoples living in their territories, including the Jewish exiles.
In his decree to send the Jews back to Judah to rebuild the temple of their God, Cyrus claims that the Lord God of heaven has specifically appointed him for that purpose (2). How astonishing that God should raise up a pagan king to accomplish this holy task! However, nearly 200 years before, the prophet Isaiah had promised that God would deliver his people through Cyrus (Isa. 45:1–13), even though the Persian emperor did not know the Lord. More amazing still is the fact that God calls Cyrus his “anointed” (Isa. 45:1), using the Hebrew title “messiah” familiar to Jews and later to Christians as belonging to the ultimate Deliverer to come.
John Calvin, in his commentary on Isaiah 45, rightly states that “God deigns to call him [Cyrus] his ‘Anointed,’ not by a perpetual title, but because he discharged for a time the office of Redeemer” (biblehub.com). The Persian emperor’s role in liberating the Jews and providing for their general welfare, as well as rebuilding God’s kingdom, makes him, in fact, a type of savior. God’s choice of Cyrus is surprising enough. How much more is the fact that eternal salvation for all who believe was accomplished via the death of an impoverished Jewish peasant who worked as a carpenter. Let us never cease to be amazed at the way God works!
Apply: Praise God for the way he often surprises and delights us in the fulfillment of his promises!
Closing Prayer: Lord, Your people continue to be amazed at Your ability to use whomever You please to accomplish whatever You please.
ONE YEAR BIBLE READING PLAN: Proverbs 5,6 / Philippians 4
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