This is what the Lord says: “I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains. I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. —Isaiah 45:2-3 NLT
To set the stage for our topic today, I was hoping we would be able to take a brief look at the rise and fall of Israel as a kingdom ruled by earthly kings. When the Israelites asked God for a King, God appointed Saul as their leader. Soon, Saul dishonored God. So God appointed David to rule over Judah (and Jerusalem, which is the holy city of God in Judah). Eventually, God appointed David as a ruler to be king over all of Israel. After king David ruled over Israel, there was his son, King Solomon, who reigned in his place. After King Solomon’s rule, the nation of Israel unfortunately became divided. The majority of Israel was then ruled by kings who served other gods. But a descendant of David continued to always rule over Benjamin and Judah (and Jerusalem, the holy city of God in Judah). This was a promise God had made with David, that his descendants would always rule.
Although God made sure to keep his covenant with David to have his descendants rule, David’s descendants were not always loyal to God during their reigns as kings of Jerusalem. Because of this, after many generations, God eventually allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to capture Jerusalem. King Nebuchadnezzar appointed a descendant of David to be king over Jerusalem, but that king rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and rebelled against God until Nebuchadnezzar eventually plundered Jerusalem in response to the hard-hearted king. He raided the Temple, and spearheaded the fall of Jerusalem as a kingdom. There were no more kings of Israel after that. As a matter of fact, King Nebuchadnezzar even took God’s holy people, the Israelites, to be exiled in his kingdom, Babylon, during that time.
Our message today is meant to paint a picture around the fact that it is very common for God to accompany his plans with his provision in the lives of those who serve his purpose. This is corroborated by the fact that there was one time when a prophet addressed one of the kings of Jerusalem, saying, “This is what God says: Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands and keep yourselves from prospering? (2 Chronicles 24:20)” God’s provision tends to be given to those who align themselves with his plans, but the opposite is also true, hence the eventual downfall of Jerusalem led by the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar.
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is someone many of us remember from the book of Daniel. Daniel was one of the exiled Israelites who eventually became the dream interpreter of the kings of Babylon. There was a time when Daniel interpreted a vision for one of the kings of Babylon and the interpretation of that particular vision gives us key information leading up to the context of our reference verses today. In Daniel 5:28, Daniel interpreted the king of Babylon’s vision by saying, “Parsin means ‘divided’—your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” This dream interpretation was a reference to a king of Persia named Cyrus who eventually came to rule over Babylon and this is the king who eventually began the restoration of God’s people, allowing them to go back to Israel from Babylon.
Our reference verses are a prophesy from Isaiah who spoke about God prospering the reign of King Cyrus two hundred years before he ever became King of Persia and restored God’s people. If we spoke about King Cyrus without first talking about the history of Israel, we might have had a propensity to think God prospered Cyrus for selfish reasons that only benefited Cyrus. The truth is that King Cyrus was not even someone who cared about wealth (as stated in Isaiah 45:13). He was ordained by God as the King of Persia, to take back the wealth Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from Solomon’s Temple (God’s temple). He rescued the Israelites from exile in Babylon and triggers some questions we ought to ask of ourselves today: Am I someone God can trust with the distribution and transferring of his wealth? Am I someone who can be trusted with the godly management and leadership of God’s people?
Unlike many of the unfaithful kings of Jerusalem, God was able to trust King Cyrus with his plans and therefore was also able to trust King Cyrus with his provision. 2 Chronicles 36:23 says, “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!” Ezra 1:7-8 says, “King Cyrus himself brought out the articles that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his own gods. Cyrus directed Mithredath, the treasurer of Persia, to count these items and present them to Sheshbazzar, the leader of the exiles returning to Judah.” King Cyrus of Persia faithfully executed God’s plans in the earth and managed the transferring of wealth and God’s people back to Israel/Jerusalem.
Let it be able to be said of us that God trusts us with his plans because of our management and leadership skills; both ethically and financially. It is possible for God to give his people wealth that is stored up in secret places, but as we can see from our study today, God tends to favor those who favor his cause. He also tends to remove those who prioritize rebellion. This is a reason I personally believe that, in the long run, it is more beneficial to be selfless concerning our purposes here on earth. For example, Ezra and Nehemiah were two men who continued the restoration in Israel that Cyrus began. Because of this, they received favor from kings to receive provision to finish God’s work and to provide for the people of Israel daily. To favor God’s plans often means to be girded with provision for his purpose. As God releases wealth from hidden places, let us prepare ourselves to consistently be among those who manage God’s plans effectively just like King Cyrus of Persia was able to.
Lots of Love, XO