Bible in a Year – Day 140: Speaking Our Language
Well, we made it. Let’s be honest, 1 and 2 Chronicles can be tough to read, but throughout these two books, God continues to reveal things to me (and additional things to you). Today, I can’t help but recognize the active role that God takes in tracking down and restoring his people. He’s even willing to use the king of another country to bring his people back to their rightful place.
Up to this point, we’ve seen numerous examples of God using other nations to bring punishment against his people and their kings. It’s a common pattern: king does evil, some nations comes looking for a fight, nation defeats Israel/Judah due to the king’s unwillingness to follow the Lord. But the story of the king of Persia is different. In this story, it is the king of another nation that helps to restore God’s people.
Now, in order to do this, God actually has to work against human nature. It’s not too hard to get a nation to fight another nation – a little conflict stirred can grow exponentially and explode into a full-on war very quickly. But in order for the opposite to happen – for the king of another nation to take interest in people that aren’t his own – it requires a very powerful and deliberate move of God on the heart of this individual. God had to speak to Cyrus, king of Persia in such a way as to move him to action.
So, how does God accomplish this (other than through his sheer will, which is enough to accomplish anything)? He speaks Cyrus’ language – the language of power. Just look at the decree that Cyrus makes at the end of 2 Chronicles:
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. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.” (2 Chronicles 36:23)
He’s building a temple where God’s people can go and worship and he’s saying a blessing over them. Incredible, right? But look at the first part of the statement: “God…has given me all the kingdoms of the earth…” God spoke Cyrus’ language. It was, in essence, a quid pro quo. God gave Cyrus an enormous amount of power, built up a cache of goodwill and then asked him to build a temple where the people could worship.
Throughout the books we’ve read so far, this is a common theme. God has the ability to reach out to people right where they are. He speaks to our most broken places. He speaks to our simplest thoughts. He stoops low so that we can reach him. In this case, he gave a king a little piece of earthly kingdom in order to gain for his people access to the vast, heavenly kingdom. A pretty decent trade, don’t you think?
- TED Talk Tuesday: Could your language affect your ability to save money?
- TED Talk Tuesday: Who Controls the World?
- Bible in a Year – Day 335: Oh, Man!
- Bible in a Year – Day 331: A Problem with Authority
- Bible in a Year – Day 326: Felix the Scaredy Cat
- Bible in a Year – Day 315: Human Jesus
- Bible in a Year – Day 313: A Matter of Life & Death
- Bible in a Year – Day 307: Wait For It…
- Bible in a Year – Day 286: Judas Didn’t Get It
- Bible in a Year – Day 287: All Authority