Saturday, September 15, 2012
KING CYRUS KNEW
King Cyrus of Persia knew about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob… the God of Israel. And King Cyrus knew that he was appointed by the God of Israel as King and as ruler of the “world.” He also knew that his duty was to let God’s people go and return to Jerusalem after 70 years in exile in Babylon so that they could re-gather and rebuild the temple and God could once again live among them. He even returned all the temple pieces which had been taken all those many years ago and prayed a blessing on those who went.
Personally, I get chills even thinking about the awesome God who brought all this about. He had proclaimed this would happen and He saw to it that it did. I would love to ask how it was that King Cyrus knew these things. He and his people did not worship or believe IN this God. He was not even a twinkle in his father’s eye when these things were proclaimed. Obviously, then, someone took note of what God had said and the words were passed down over time. The “whole world” knew about this by the time it happened. And, yet….
Knowing and believing IN could not be more separated than we see here. He knew, his people knew, the Israelites knew and even the conquered people of Babylon knew. But, basically, only the Israelites actually BELIEVED IN this God. And they wavered as though what was happening was too hard to believe. Many did not choose to return. They liked the life they were living in Babylon. But, by God’s Grace, many did return and much was accomplished in the next few years, including getting back to the keeping of the Law and the sacrifices and festivals. The rest of the world sat by and watched.
And this brings me to my point of today’s blog: The Word and knowledge of God was spread around into the European, North African, and Middle Eastern world though these circumstances of exile and through even more of the world through trade. He was not unknown. We have too many examples of leaders of other countries who acknowledged his existence and His power. But He was ignored. He was believed to be the most powerful God of all the gods, but He as not BELIEVED IN.
How sad is it that some can come so close to God without ever stepping out in faith to believe IN Him. I believe that one of the most difficult situations we deal with as Christians is to know and even love someone who is constantly hearing the Word of God, taking in knowledge and then being satisfied with knowing about Him but not at all willing to commit to Him, in faith. It can be so frustrating that our desire to take them by the shoulders and shake them into believing grows stronger and stronger.
And yet we cannot do that. No one can make someone else believe. We are instruments for God to use to bring the message, but He is in charge of their believing. We tell them of Salvation and then put them in God’s hands for the final outcome. And this is often where we are the weakest and ask “Why, Lord, why?” Why didn’t my family respond to you? Is it my fault? Was my testimony that bad? Can I hope that You worked a miracle that I am not aware of? What is my hope for them? How do I let go of the guilt and go on serving you?
And I am reminded of the many testimonies of pastors and missionaries that went on and on for years and years before the light began to shine in those who received it. And then those ministers come before the people and all the people want to know is “How many souls have been saved in your ministry?” I also ask myself that question and come up lacking and wondering if I am doing anything worthwhile at all. J. Vernon McGee (a well known radio evangelist and teacher), in his autobiography, says that “My job is not to save souls but to preach (teach) the Word and leave the results up to Him.”
Many of us take it for granted that people who are proud of what they do have a problem feeling humble. But what about those who are feeling so useless that staying humble is a backbreaking ordeal. It isn’t easy to stay calm and not stand up and shout to be noticed. But in the Body of Christ, the church, even the appendix is important in the work that it does (and no one has figured out what that is) but when it tries to do the job of the bowl, it gets infected, causes a great deal of pain, and needs to be cut out.
May we all keep ourselves aware that we must be doing for Christ, but also may we all be joyful and content in the jobs we are given to do.