“…the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia…” Ezra 1:1
I don’t know why I do it. But sometimes I bring myself to think that God’s purpose is captive to the willingness of humanity to carry it out. I find the task of reporting the good news of Jesus Christ to be an honour and a privilege. But sometimes I make more of that honour than is right. I convince myself that God has made me (and every other disciple) the gate-keeper of the gospel, so that if we neglect it — it fails to persist. But here I am reminded that God needed nothing more than the word of his mouth to bring the myriad of miracles that formed every intricacy of the universe. He is by all means capable of fulfilling his purposes for it by the same means. Yet he brings us in!
In Isaiah 44:28 God speaks to the pagan king Cyrus before he was born, saying that God has chosen him to be a shepherd. One who would foster God’s Kingdom come among the Israelites who were living in exile under his rule. It is audacious for a king to say to another king, “you will be my shepherd” and “you will build my house.” It is boggling that such an instruction can come into history from outside the realms of time and space. It is divine that the spirit of King Cyrus would be stirred by God to do precisely what God intended! This is the power of God’s will. So when we pray “Your will be done, your kingdom come” we are not asking God to let it be. It will be. Rather we are praising him for making us aware of his purposes, and for the place he’s given us in its unfolding.
God’s word does not merely reflect truth; it creates truth. When Jesus says to his disciples “go and make disciples” or “I am sending you” he is not merely pleading with the redeemed to join his cause. Rather he is authoring the stories of those whom he calls to follow him.
- Does that change the way we think of obedience?
- Is obedience a desperate struggle to bring God pleasure?
- Is obedience a faithful pursuit of a what God has already secured?
- Is it possible that obedience is both/and rather than either/or?
“And all who were about them aided them with
… silver … gold … goods … beasts … costly wares … gifts.”
What’s exciting for me is that God not only stirs people to fulfill his purposes; he also lines the path with every necessity for a faithful answer to the call. Speaking of the audacity of God; it is one thing for exiles to be sent to establish a kingdom in their homeland. It’s another thing for their oppressors to send them off with an inheritance of the kingdom they are leaving. God’s purpose is good. His Kingdom is coming! His will is being done. And he brings us into it.
It is an honour and a privilege to be crafted by the Word of God.