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Archive for June, 2010

A Study of the Sovereignty of God (#17)

The Manipulation of Two Kings (Ezra 1, 7)

 

As great as Nebuchadnezzar was, his Babylonian empire could not survive forever. In fact, from the time of Israel’s exile, Babylon only survived another fifty years before it crumbled from within and the Persian empire swooped in to assume power. The Persian king Cyrus inherited the vast population of Jews as his subjects. Amazingly, in 539 BC, Cyrus decreed that the Jews return to their homeland. We read the account in Ezra:

 

 “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD . . . has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people . . . let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel” (Ezra 1:1-3).”

 

The Bible clearly revels that Cyrus issued this command because the Lord moved the king to do so. It appeared to the Jews that their lives were bound in the will of the king but that king’s will was bound in the hand of God.

 

We get a good perspective on this from God’s prophet Isaiah:

 

 “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus . . . For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:1-6; emphasis mine).

 

Cyrus was used by God to accomplish God’s plan for Israel and Cyrus did not even know he was being thus used. Cyrus, and Pharaoh, both acted as their hearts desired but their hearts were directed by the Lord to accomplish His eternal purposes.

 

In the seventh chapter of Ezra, the leader reads from a letter from Artaxerxes, providing the Jews with finances to rebuild the temple. In the letter, the king writes:

 

“I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, up to 100 talents of silver, 100 cors of wheat, 100 baths of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons (Ezra 7:21-23).”

 

After reading the letter, Ezra says, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem (Ezra 7:27, emphasis mine).

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

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The Rending of a Kingdom (1 Kings 11-12)

 

Solomon committed idolatry and sinned against the Lord. As a consequence, God told him that the kingdom of Israel would be torn away from the king. However, God also said that “for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son” (1 Kings 11:12).

 

 After the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam assumed the throne. In one of his first acts as king, the people ask for a reduction in taxes and labor. The new king sought advice. The older and wiser consultants suggested that he listen to the people. The younger and less wise advisors suggested that he make things even worse on his subjects. Rehoboam foolishly followed the advice of the younger set. We read that “the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (1 Kings 12:15).

 

 I am glad the Lord included this last sentence to explain why things happened the way they did. A casual observer would not have imagined the Lord’s hand in anything that Rehoboam did. Instead, the same event that can be classified as Rehoboam’s foolish judgment is also depicted in the Bible as the Lord’s wise dealing with His people.

 

By Jeff Spry (www.monergism.com)

***This will begin a new blog series on the Sovereignty of God.  This topic has been highly mis-understood throughout much of evangelicalism.  Some will say they believe that God is sovereign, yet deny its many implications.  Others will completely deny God’s Sovereignty because of it’s implications.  We hope that you will stick with this extensive study on the Sovereignty of God.  We will be including resources from a variety of Theologians and Authors, that will hopefully be able to answer many of the misnomers and questions that you may have***

Read Full Post »