"Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.Ezra 1:2(NASB)
Over 100 years before he was born, Isaiah identified Cyrus as God's servant and future shepherd who would perform all God's pleasure. He even prophesied that this coming king of Persia would say to Jerusalem: "Thou shalt be built"... and to the ruined temple of God, "Thy foundation shall be laid."
The truth of Proverbs 21 is clearly seen in the life of king Cyrus, for we read: "The kings' heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water, and He turns it wherever He wishes." God is in control and even ungodly leaders who do not know the Lord, can be used by Him to fulfil His eternal plans and to forward His redemptive purpose for mankind.
God knows the end from the beginning and He knew that this great emperor of Persia would conquer the formidable Babylonian kingdom, exactly 70 years after Israel was destroyed, her people taken into captivity, and her Temple burned to the ground - as prophesied by Jeremiah.
God's chosen people were sent into slavery because they broke their covenant with the Lord and the consequences of many centuries of Israel's disobedience and unbelief resulted in this severe punishment for God's errant nation.
But God used this disaster in the nation's history to teach His people a lesson... and to forward His eternal plan for the redemption of humanity. And early in the book of Ezra we discover the record of a decree from Cyrus, king of Persia, to rebuild the temple of God. "The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth," was Cyrus' bold declaration, "and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah."
Liberal theologians cannot come to terms with world history being written by God's prophets in advance! But God knows the end from the beginning and by His Holy Spirit, He caused holy men of God to prophesy future events before they came to pass... for the most High rules in the kingdom of men. He sets up rulers, He deposes kings, and He causes all things to work together for good - for the benefit of His servants and for His greater glory.
Cyrus had ruled over many Medo-Persian provinces for about 20 years, but he made his prophetic proclamation in the first year of his reign over Babylon. Cyrus did not worship the God of Israel, nor did he believe in Him, and yet God used this man to shepherd His people, Israel, back to their native land. God used this pagan king to build the Lord a house in Jerusalem, (which is in Judea) - thus fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah which proclaimed that God had decreed that Israel would remain in captivity for exactly 70 years.
The sovereign hand of God continues to move the hearts of kings and princes, both saved and unsaved. He often uses ungodly kings and pagan rulers to forward His plan - which is to set His King, the Lord Jesus Christ, upon His holy hill of Zion.
Prayers from Daniel the prophet and petitions from the faithful remnant of Israel, were answered through Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia, centuries before God's anointed Messiah was born. Today, the Lord still continues to answer the prayers of His people who cry out to Him day and night.
The Word of God is true and cannot be broken. No earthly king or group of co-conspirators can thwart His plans and purposes which are laid out for all to see in His written Word. God has written the end from the beginning so that we may participate in fulfilling His plans and purposes by crying out to Him in prayer and intercessions.
Let us pray into His will and finish the work that God has prepared for us to do. May we be willing to be used as instruments to proclaim the glorious gospel of grace to a lost and dying world, and may we lift up our voices in prayer and praise for the fulfilment of His perfect plan and for the any-day return of Christ for His Church.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plan to set up Christ on the holy hill of Zion, continues to move forward toward Your ultimate goal. Thank You for the example of Cyrus whom You used to fulfil Your prophetic Word and forward Your plan of salvation. Use me, I pray, as an instrument in the forwarding of Your redemptive plans, in whatever way You choose, and may I live to Your praise and glory. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.