I keep thinking I am not going to comment on the current times, but I sure hope to speak INTO them and offer you some encouragement.
First of all, as I look around me I see all kinds of reactions/responses/attitudes that include:
* people who are completely compliant with all that is being asked of them and believe everything they are being told
* people who are completely compliant with all that is being asked of them but don’t believe everything they are being told
* people who are completely compliant with all that is being asked of them but believe nothing of what they are being told
* people who are complying on the things they believe but not things they don’t believe
* people who are not complying at all
* people who are oblivious
* people who are protesting
* people who are making rules but not following them
* people who are using these times for really good things
* people who are using these times to perpetuate evil
Did I cover it all?
Who cares? You get the point because you see it, too.
And out there in the middle of all these conflicting view points, we can sometimes feel like a turtle trying to safely cross the Autobahn in peak traffic.
So for all you sweet little creatures who are tempted to hide in your shells and hope to not get smashed, let me tell you what I found in Ezra this week.
At the beginning of the book, King Cyrus of Persia gets this urge to let the Jews go back to their homeland and rebuild their city and the Temple. Please note, he is a pagan king…and God had sent word through the prophets that a king named Cyrus would do this…because He is, after all, God.
So the Jews start going back and they find the walls all broken down and a big mess of rubble, but they start building it back up.
And the people who have settled in their absence are not liking this new project, so they communicate eventually when a new King rises to power in Persia. They send notice to him that he needs to stop these Jews from rebuilding their city because they are nothing but trouble. (Yes, this is the Laura Reimer version of the book of Ezra…and it may not pass in the hallowed halls of a seminary…but you should read it for yourself anyway…)
This King looks into the royal records and sure enough discovers that they are known to take stands and win and not come under the authority of foreign governments.(and this is not an analogy of current politics so please do not go there…put your flag down and listen to what God is showing us about HIMSELF)
So the new King puts the kibosh on the rebuild, but one of the Jews named Zerubbabel rises up and continues the renovation anyway.
The foreign governor of a nearby region, along with his fellow Persians, came and asked what the heck was going on when they had been told to cease and desist and the Jews told him about King Cyrus.
He and his buddies write another letter to the King of Persia and the records are sought again and, lo and behold…the Jews were right. So the decree went out to leave them alone and let them do what God had set up for them to do – rebuild the city, the walls and temple.
And you know what I get out of this?
The Jews had spent 70 years in Babylon as a result of their turning away from God. But when the time of discipline was over, God worked through a bunch of pagan kings to accomplish His plan.
Also, He did not remove the discouragement and roadblocks of the enemy. The people had to work through them with grit and determination to be obedient to God.
The Jews worked as told by God and they worked together.
Whatever opposition they faced, they relied on God and His power to defend them – not their own strength.
They trusted that God can work through whatever the system or circumstances around them looked like.
There is a whole lot of examples of how this faith community triumphed over the trickery and schemes of those who wanted to thwart the kingdom plan of God. There are great words of encouragement to a community of believers who are trying to do with right thing when they face great opposition.
So, little turtles, maybe we could all pull our heads out of our shells, open our Bibles to Ezra and Nehemiah and read about who God is and grow in our trust of Him so we don’t get caught up worrying and fretting over those who only appear to have control of things.
Spoiler alert: they don’t.
Please do not waste these precious days shouting and arguing. Put on the armor of God, use this time to ask Him for boldness to share the good news of His Kingdom. Do good to others, pray without ceasing, be shining lights. The world is looking at us now for answers to how to live in times of trial and inconvenience and hardship.
Have a blessed weekend.
You are loved <3