Now 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, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Ezra 1:1-2
Three words stand out in this amazing account of an unbelieving King: Stirred, speak, and salvation.
The writer Ezra records this as Israel is in Babylon and about to experience the first return from exile. The prophet Jeremiah records the exact time of their return. The eternal God moves the heart and spirit of the heathen ruler Cyrus to do His will.
The word stirred is interesting and refers to the arousal or awakening of the king’s senses to act immediately as prompted by the Lord God Almighty.
Amazingly, this work of God was prophesied by Isaiah, long before Cyrus was born.
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will lose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.
Even as Isaiah prophecies the person who will be responsible for the return of the children of Israel, Jeremiah records the period for which they will be in captivity.
For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Cyrus proclaims this work of God in his kingdoms and ensures that this is recorded in writing. This was all in the plan of the Supreme One for the building of the house of God to be finally completed. This declaration of Cyrus is clear as the Spirit of God prompted him. There was to be no room for error or misinterpretation.
This is again a reminder that salvation is the work of God. In Ezra 1:2, Cyrus refers to ‘The Lord God of heaven’; a public confession of the Living and the True God of Israel! The foreign, 'heathen' ruler in so doing is also declaring the same God who will one day, send His Son into the world.
The work of the Spirit of God is clarity and maintaining order –not confusion.
In the book of Acts, the miracle of the presence of God is seen when the same Spirit led the masses to confess Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men, and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Those who heard this message were 'pricked' in their heart (Acts 2:37). The heart and spirit of Cyrus was stirred! Jeremiah after revealing the time of release also made a call for the people to 'search' for the same Lord with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13)
This same Spirit of God will lead us to seek the face of His Son Jesus.
We can continue to pray for others in this world, especially those who are close to us, that they may come to know this God that Cyrus confessed, the One whom Isaiah and Jeremiah were led by, the one Peter proclaimed as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May we be stirred to speak of salvation - through the help of the Holy Spirit.