By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Ezra 1-5
Key Scripture Verse: Ezra 1:5 (NIV, Life Application Bible) “Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.”
The Hebrews had been exiled to Babylon, kept captive for 70 years when King Cyrus, king of Persia, was rising in power and had taken Babylon for himself. Cyrus freed the people and gave them leave to return to Jerusalem. So, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the Levites and priests—“everyone whose heart God had moved”–returned to their homeland to rebuild the temple. Even though Cyrus was not a Jew, he was the one that God used to bring the Jews back home.
It was God’s will that there be a faithful remnant in Jerusalem and he moved the hearts of these people to go back home and to do his will by giving them the desire to do what he wanted them to do. God is not limited in how he effects change and creates opportunities for his people to follow him. The Life Application Bible commentary points out that the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:13 that “it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” God made it possible by moving Cyrus to allow the Jews to go home and he gave the Jews the desire to go back to their homeland, to worship him, and to rebuild his temple.
God opens doors and shuts others to make things happen and this verse helps us realize that he can move our hearts to do his will when we are open to his urgings—he will give us the healthy desires that will position us for his purposes. If we are sincere and ask him to guide us, he will.
To be tuned in to God’s desires and purpose for our lives, we can ready ourselves to be able to hear his voice by confessing our sins, reading our Bibles, giving thanks, and spending time with him in prayer and worship. It is through these actions that we develop in faith. When we live by faith, we can discern when it is the Holy Spirit who calls us to action.
May we be open to the urgings of the Holy Spirit. May we be ready and willing to heed his call.