An exposition of Ezra 1:2
Pdt. Marianus T. Waang
On Feb 21, I was on my way to Papua. I used the delayed time at Supadio Airport, West Borneo, to read the book of Ezra. My plan was just to read the book entirely. When I finished chapter one, however, I found a very important aspect of biblical teaching on the providence of God. This aspect comes out plainly thru the announcement of King Cyrus of Persia: “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 a Jerusalem in Judah …” (v. 2 NIV). I then stopped reading, and made this short note.
If we pay a close attention to this verse, we can see elements showing God’s providence. Firstly, the King acknowledges that all kingdoms he owns are not originated from his own political or military power. They ARE GIVEN to him. Does this mean that they are inherited by his ancestors: father of grandfather? That is the custom in a royal country in ancient time, isn’t it? Yet we see something different. And this becomes the second element of my point. It is God, the Almighty One, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has given him both the power as King and those kingdoms (cf. Zech. 4:6: “Not by might, nor by power, but my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (KJV)). Thirdly, he knows that the lives of God’s people both politically and spiritually is put under his charge also by this Mighty God. He is thus given the power to rule all nations and the opportunity - or better responsibility - to help God’s people. He knows for sure: it is not his ancestors’ god. It is God of heaven and earth.
But how can a colonial King be so gracious to the Israelites, his enemy? No better answer is available such question than that of the apostle Paul: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, …” (Rom. 8:28 KJV). Another modern question can come to mind: how can a heathen King be so sure of God’s control? Our modern mind has no idea. And even we would have one, it will not satisfy. Why? Because people of this era have put the True-Almighty God aside. We tend and really willing to have a God who can do whatever we want and ask than the other way around: a God who just wants to do whatever pleased to him. Thus apart from this ungodly modern question, one thing is plain: the Lord - who calls Abraham and promises that thru him and his descendants all nations on earth will be blessed - takes control of every King and power. No single King or power stands aside the line of his providence. Put it in Paul’s words: “… there is no power but of God: the power that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1 KJV).
Now, we probably still question: does this God still exist today? Can Kings and political powers in this modern world be put in the same boat with that of the ancient world, such as Cyrus of Persia? Can what Paul says also be applied in the political context of today worldwide? Yes, indeed! And this has consequences.
Firstly, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob holds Kings and powers – and even religions - of all nations in his mighty hands. None and nothing is excluded!
Secondly, all kings and followers of all religions will surely stand before this God one day!
Thirdly, it is unbiblical to neglect a leader only because he or she does not share in the faith we hold!
Fourthly, all Kings and political powers can be used by God for the sake of those who love him!
God is in control even when everything seems hopeless!
May Jesus bless you all.