by Georgie Schuster
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From the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me (Isaiah 45:6).
Imagine for a moment that you are among the exiles living in captivity in Babylon. You had been born there, and this is the only life you had known. You’ve grown up listening to the stories of family and elders of the land they were taken from. Home. There’s an ache in your heart and a longing to be there in your own land, like the stories of the temple where your ancestors used to worship God. But it is all far removed. The temple in ruins, like your hope.
And then something most unexpected happens.
Cyrus, a foreign emperor, comes along and conquers Babylon, effectively putting an end to the years of captivity. He decrees that the temple back in Jerusalem needs to be rebuilt and the Jewish people need to go back there to get the job done.
Leaders conquering territory is nothing new. But here’s the kicker. Cyrus had no allegiance to Israel and didn’t grow up believing in God. Something else to note: this was all foretold in the book of Isaiah around 200 years before it happened!
There are times that we like to think we are masters of our own destinies and that we know how things are supposed to work. But things often have a habit of coming along to shake us from that illusion. God raised up the most unexpected person to serve him and his people all those years ago. Cyrus was the chosen one. Can you imagine the stories that would have circulated among the people of Israel as they walked home? Can you imagine the stories of the people in the surrounding lands? Indeed, there was a loving God at work behind the scenes – just as he is today.
Dear Heavenly Father, help us to remember that our lives are in your loving hands. When we can’t see a way through, you direct our paths. There is none besides you. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.