We Will Trust in Him

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Today’s Reading – Job 12 – 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Ephesians 4 – 6; Psalms 36 – 40Proverbs 8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0608 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read another post from this passage – “Wisdom

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15)

In this statement we see Job’s declaration of faith in God. Though Job certainly has not figured out why God has allowed all of this tragedy to come into his life, he plainly declares here that no matter what God does to him (or allows to be done to him), he will continue to trust Him. When you and I read this book of the Bible it is easy for us, from the perspective of history, to identify with what Job has stated here. But think for a minute with me. If it were you or me going through what Job went through, how would we be feeling about God? If God were to allow us to lose everything all at once; and then to have excruciating physical pain be placed on top of it all, how would we react? Could we say, truthfully, “yet will I trust in Him”?

A few years back, I watched a movie / documentary called Amish Grace about the Nickle Mines tragedy in Lancaster, PA. The movie recounts the true story of a troubled man who went into an Amish school house, shooting 10 little girls and killing 5 of them. The amazing thing is that the Amish people chose to trust God’s wisdom in allowing what happened. Though it was very painful; though it took a little time for all of them to come to this decision, they chose to forgive the man that shot their children. This was certainly a modern day picture of what Job went through. These Amish folks did not understand why God had allowed it to happened, yet they continued to keep their trust in the Lord.

Most of the time I feel that my faith is so weak, I doubt whether it could stand up to such intense suffering. I guess it will have to be the grace of God that will sustain me through the dark days that seem to find their way into every believer’s life at one point or another. I know that difficult days lie ahead for me as well. I want to be prepared for them by getting so close to God that it will be easier to trust Him when it doesn’t seem like He is even there.

I also wanted to make a comment about the second half of verse 15. Job says that he will maintain [his] ways before him (God). I believe what Job was saying here is that though he was being severely tested by the Lord, he was still going to continue to do what he had always done. In other words, he wasn’t going to quit. He was going to keep on living for the Lord through the difficult trial. I know that when we are going through trials in life it can be very difficult to “maintain” your walk with the Lord, but it is especially important to stay close to God during the tough times. Don’t quit.


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The Daysman

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Today’s Reading –  Job 8 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Ephesians 1 – 3; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “0607 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” – (Job 9:32-33)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” – (1 Timothy 2:5)

The word “daysman” in verse 33 of chapter 9 literally means a mediator. Job is lamenting because there is no one to bridge the gap between the righteous and holy God, and a sinner like himself. He already stated in verse 20 that he could not justify himself. God became man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, and as the God-man he came to justify sinners like Job, and you and me also. He was the go-between, the mediator, the one who came between God and men, so that men could come into the presence of an holy God.

Consider some of these verses regarding what Christ accomplished for us when He came to earth as a man and died for our sins:

“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” – (Matthew 27:50-51)

The veil in the temple separated men from God; but through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, the veil was removed. Notice that the veil was torn from the top to the bottom, signifying that it was God that removed the veil that once kept man from Him.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Jesus was, and is, fully God, yet also fully man. He understands what it is like to be tempted, because he experienced it; yet without sin. He, as our great high priest, went before us and opened up a door for us to now boldly enter into the presence of God. We can now enter into God’s presence through “the Door”; through “the Way”; through Christ.

There has always been a “daysman”, even in Job’s time; but Job may not have understood it at the time. Praise God, however, we definitely have one that we can know today!


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Encouragement or Discouragement?

Today’s Reading – Job 5 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Galatians 4 – 6; Psalms 26 – 30; Proverbs 6)

Read the 0606 Evening and Morning post by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage –The Chastening of the Almighty

“Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words! but what doth your arguing reprove?” (Job 6:24-25)

In our passage this morning we read the conversation betweeen Job and his friends. In chapter 5, we read the continuation of what was said by Eliphaz to Job, and in chapters 6 – 7, we see Job’s reply. These friends of Job came to comfort him because of the anguish that he was experiencing. I believe that they were sincere in what they were trying to do because they waited for a full week with Job without saying anything. I think that they really wanted to help him, but I am also sure that they did not understand what Job was going through, nor did the have a clu as to why this was happening to him. They assumed that Job was receiving punishment for something that he had done. Our friends and family members oftentimes do not know how to react when we are going through the dark days. When you get down to it, it is really impossible for people outside of our situation to completely identify or understand what we are going through.  Sometimes when people try to help, they can often cause more trouble for us with the things that they say.  I guess we often ask for the added problems because we so desire to have the fellowship of people around us, especially when we are hurting.

My advice to you that are hurting right now is to try to understand the lack of understanding on the part of your “encouragers”. Try to appreciate their motivation to help you, but don’t be too frustrated by the help itself.  Understand also that you may be the one who is not seeing things clearly and the people who are trying to help you might just be right about what they are saying, though you may not want to hear it.

My advice to you who would try to encourage those that are hurting is that you would be slow to judge, and slow to speak.  Give a listening ear and let them vent a little; let them cry on your shoulder for a while.  There will eventually come a time when they will need to move forward but give them a little space to see what God is doing their lives. Remember, someday it will be you that is going through the valley and you will be glad that there are others around you who are patient and understanding with you.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)


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Sometimes We Reap More Than We Sow

Today’s Reading – Esther 6 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 9 – 13, Psalms 16 – 20; Proverbs 4)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 25

Read the “0604 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.” – (Esther 9:5 )

“But the other Jews that were in the king’s provinces gathered themselves together, and stood for their lives, and had rest from their enemies, and slew of their foes seventy and five thousand, but they laid not their hands on the prey,” – (Esther 9:16)

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.” – (Esther 7:10)

In today’s reading we read about the destruction of Haman, his family, and all others who would try to hurt the people of God. Remember, in the previous chapters we read how that Haman had a carefully devised plan to have all of the Jews in the Kingdom of Persia put to death. He even built a special gallows to have Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, displayed on. His plan ended up destroying only him and his kind; and he ended up being hung on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. He not only got back what he gave to others, he got back far more than he gave. The lost world will reap far more in this life, and especially in eternity, what they have sown.

Christians today need to remember that the principle of sowing and reaping still exists. Thank the Lord as God’s children, because of His wonderful grace, we won’t reap nearly the amount of judgment as compared to the sin that we have sown; but we will reap some in this life. However, we can also reap back a lot of good if we sow it. As the people of God today, we should be concerned with sowing love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness to the people around us. I am sure that there will be times when we will want to have those things come back to us. And the beautiful thing is that the Christian will reap much more in eternity than what he has sown in this life. The Bible indicates that the rewards in heaven, and to some degree, even in this life, are multiplied exceedingly.


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Obsession

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Today’s Reading – Esther 1 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 5 – 8; Psalms 11 – 15; Proverbs 3)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read the “0603 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this passage – “It’s a God Thing

“Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:13)

My attention this morning is turned toward Haman, a wicked lost man that was highest ranking prince in the administration of King Ahasuerus of Persia. This man had a prestigious position, second only to the king. According to the Book of Esther he had a family and friends. No doubt, he had wealth. It could easily be said that this man had all that any man could ask for. He was a rising star in the kingdom. Yet, none of that mattered to him, because he was consumed with hatred toward the Jewish people in general, and specifically toward Mordecai. All of the things that should have brought joy and happiness to this man were of no avail, because all that Haman could think about was Mordecai. He was obsessed, consumed with hatred and bitterness toward another human being. Stupid!

King Saul also comes to mind as another insecure man consumed with hatred and jealousy. Of course, his problem was with David, a young man who had done nothing but faithfully serve his king. Saul’s obsession with David became so acute, he spent all of Israel’s resources trying to find David to put him to death. What a shame!

Unfortunately, this type of situation is very prevalent among believers today. I have observed individuals who were also consumed with jealousy or bitterness toward another. Their entire life seemed to revolve around the object of their obsession. Their thoughts were filled with the person that they were bitter towards, and every conversation they had would eventually turn into a gossip session regarding their enemy. All of this served to rob them of the happiness that they should have been enjoying in an abundant life.

Christian, is there someone you just can’t stop thinking about (in a bad way)? Is there a person out there in the world that has become the object of your obsession? The bitterness that is growing inside of you towards that person will eventually destroy you, and make others around you miserable as well. Get a life! Release this obsession from the prison of your heart. Let them go. Forget about them. Don’t let anyone steal the joy that could be yours. It’s just not worth it. If you continue on in your obsession, you will surely end up being destroyed on the gallows that you intended to use on them.


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Spring Cleaning

 

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 2 Corinthians 1 – 4; Psalms 6 – 10; Proverbs 2)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read the “0602 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” – (Nehemiah 13:9)

In Nehemiah 13, I noticed that there were four things that had crept back into the life of the people of Israel that had to be cleaned out:

1 In vs. 4 – 9 we see that Eliashib the priest had actually emptied a chamber in the temple of God, and had prepared it for Tobiah to stay in. Tobiah had been the one who had opposed Nehemiah and the people of God as they rebuilded the city of Jerusalem. He had to go. Nehemiah gave him the boot.

2 In vs. 10 – 13 we learn that the Levites had to go back to the fields to work because the people of God were not supporting them through their tithes and offerings. Nehemiah corrected this problem as well.

3 In vs. 15 – 22 we see that God’s people were violating the Sabbath by working, and by trading with outsiders. God wanted the Sabbath Day to be kept holy, and set apart from the normal routines of the week. Nehemiah commanded that the gates of the city be closed on the Sabath so that the merchants could not enter in to do their business.

4 Finally we see that the Jews began to inter-marry with the heathen people around them. It got to be so bad that some of the children did not even speak the Hebrew language, but instead conversed in the language of the land where the mother came from. Nehemiah had a fit about this, and made the people promise to separate from people who were not Jews. He reminded them of how even King Solomon was caused to sin because of his marriages to non-Jewish women. God wants his people to marry within the household of faith.

It is amazing how quickly all of these abuses crept back into the lives of the people of God. Every once in a while we need to have an old-fashioned house cleaning to remove all of the junk that creeps into our lives as well. Why not take a spiritual inventory of your own life. Is there anything in your home, or in your life that God would want cleaned out? Just a thought.


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We Will Not Forsake the House of Our God

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Today’s Reading – Nehemiah 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 13 – 16; Psalms 1 – 5; Proverbs 1)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0601 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.” – (Nehemiah 9:2-3)

“For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” – (Nehemiah 10:39)

I enjoyed thoroughly reading these three chapters today from the Book of Nehemiah. The people of Israel are back in their own land after having been in captivity for many years. They are united, “in one accord”; and they are fully surrendered to the Lord. This is certainly one of the high places in their history. In these three chapters I have noticed some ingredients that were in place that brought about a wonderful revival in the lives of God’s people. As I already mentioned, the people were unified, which in itself is an important part of the revival; but in addition to that, let me list some ingredients that I observed.

1 They are putting a heavy emphasis on the reading and preaching of the Word of God. We see this in chapter 8, and again in chapter 9. The people stood for a fourth part of the day listening to the Word. We have a tough time getting people to sit in padded seats for an hour. The word caused them to implement many changes in their lives, including the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles.

2 There is an emphasis on prayer. In chapter 9, we see the people corporately confessing their sins; and praising God for His mercy and grace upon them. People who are right with God will praise God. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.”

3 In chapter 10, we see that the people have made a commitment to the House of God. They committed to give their offerings so that the servants of the Temple, including all of the priests and Levites, would have everything that they need in order to minister to the people.

I have left out some other things, but as you can see from the reading today, these three ingredients were part of one of the greatest revivals in the history of God’s people. If we ever see revival again in America, I bet that these three ingredients will be here as well.


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I Cannot Come Down

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Today’s Reading –  Nehemiah 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – 1 Corinthians 9 – 12; Psalms 146 – 150; Proverbs 31)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

Read the “0531 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” – (Nehemiah 6:2 – 3)

In our passage today we see Nehemiah busy doing what the Lord had called him to do: rebuilding the wall of the city of Jerusalem. He had a job to do, and he was intent on completing it. Now there were also people in the area that were intent on stopping Nehemiah from fulfilling the will of God, but Nehemiah did not let them distract him from completing his work. I love what Nehemiah said: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” The work Nehemiah was doing was certainly great, because it was God that had asked him to do it.

I have a great work to do for the Lord as well, and so do you. God has something to do for all of us who are His children. We must not get distracted from completing the work that God has given us. I have observed through the years that distractions can come from a variety of sources. The wicked one is famous for distracting people away from the will of God. This was the case with Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshom from our text. They were wicked men who did not have Nehemiah’s best interests in mind. They were working against the will of God, but notice how they tried to disguise themselves as God’s servants and as Nehemiah’s friends. As God’s children we need to learn to be discerning about the true motivations of the people around us as they attempt to pull us away from the primary tasks that God has given us.

Another type of distraction comes from good people who often invite us to do “good things”; but even these good things become evil if they take us away from the best things. I am slowly learning how to graciously turn down many “good” invitations from caring people. I simply do not have enough time and energy to do all of the things that I might like to do, especially as they pull me away from the primary areas of my responsibility. As a pastor, I get invited to many birthday’s, picnics, graduations, dinners, weddings, conferences, barbecues, etc. I love to be with God’s people, but I simply cannot go to them all.

A third distraction is the distraction God brings your way. There are times that God will interrupt the daily routine in life in order for you to learn something, or maybe in order for you to accomplish something special for Him. Again, we must be very careful to discern whether these distractions are indeed from God. A few years ago, because of the tight budget at the church I had to go back to a secular job for a few months, which required me to work overnight 6 nights per week. This job was certainly a hindrance that kept me from doing all that I might have wanted to do in the ministry; but I am convinced that God had lead me down that path, at least temporarily. My primary ministry is my family, and God had provided this job as a means for my family to be taken care of while still allowing me to serve as the pastor. However, because of this constraint on my time, I was very limited to what I could do. My life consisted basically of working, sleeping, prayer, Bible reading, studying and preparing for messages, and a little soul winning. That is all that I could do during those months. I  had to learn to say no to many other things so that I could do those main things. My focus was still on serving God, but I had to take some time away from that service in order to help the church financially, and in order to put food on my family’s table. God taught me much in the short time that I had been working the outside job, and He even used me to be a light to a very dark workplace. I thank the Lord that my time at the supermarket was short, and that He has turned our church’s financial situation around, but I am convinced that God allowed that period in my life for a reason.

The bottom line of today’s devotion is this: don’t allow distractions to pull you away from the primary things that God wants you to do, unless, of course, it is God who is doing the distracting.


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The Heart of the King

Today’s Reading – Ezra 3 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 13 – 16Psalms 131 – 135Proverbs 28)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0528 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read previous posts from today’s passage – “Leave Them Alone” and “Stop Living in the Past

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

“(2) 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 an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.” (Ezra 1:2)

“(1) Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. … (7) Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place.” (Ezra 6:1, 7)

“(21) And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, (22) And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.” (Ezra 6:21-22)

“Blessed be the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem:” (Ezra 7:27)

Here in the Book of Ezra, we have read about three different kings of Persia which were clearly in favor of the people of God returning into their land and rebuilding their city and Temple. In chapter one, we read about the original decree issued by Cyrus, and in the following chapters we see that the people got busy working on the restoration of the house of God. However, in chapter four, we learn that there were enemies of the people of God who opposed the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, and they petitioned King Artaxerxes (I) and convinced him that these Jews were trouble makers and that the work should stop. This king temporarily halts the project until a further investigation could be made. He later revoked the halting of the project and even gave the people of God whatever they needed to do the will of God (7:27). In chapter 6, we read about Darius who also supported the Israelites as they re-built their Temple, and he even commanded that everyone else in the area leave them alone.

Each of these kings was under the sovereign control of the King of Kings, and though they also had their own free will, God used them to accomplish His purposes. The bottom line is that the Lord is in control. If God’s people are submissive to His will and obedient to His commands, God will provide civil leadership that will be supportive of what the people want to do. The key is really in the hands of God’s people. “If my people … ” (2 Chronicles 7:14) do what they are supposed to do, God will heal the land, including the political leadership. Here in Ezra, God’s people were submissive to God and were trying to obey Him, and God was helping them. The only hiccup during this time was when the people allowed the opposition (and there will always be opposition) to cause them to quit, but as soon as they got back on track and determined to finish the project, God sent decrees from the king to help them accomplish God’s purpose.


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It Is All According to God’s Plan

Today’s Reading – Ezra 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers Read – Romans 9 – 12Psalms 126 – 130Proverbs 27)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “0527 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read a previous post from this morning’s passage – “A Fresh Start

“(1) 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,” (Ezra 1:1)

You may have noticed that Ezra 1:1 & 2 are almost identical to 2 Chronicles 36:22 & 23. Chronicles discusses the history of Israel prior to the captivity, and Ezra continues that history after the Babylonian captivity. We are picking up in Ezra where we left off in 2 Chronicles, but keep in mind that the entire time of the Babylonian captivity is nestled in-between 2 Chronicles and Ezra.

My thought for this morning regards the statement made in Ezra 1:1 – “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled.” Jeremiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah prior to and into the beginning years of the Babylonian captivity. He was long gone, however, when Cyrus was the king of Persia and issued the decree to send the Jewish captives back to Jerusalem and to begin work on the Temple.

Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would be punished and the seventy year captivity would come to an end and the people of God would be permitted to go back to their land:

“(12) And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” (Jeremiah 25:12)

“(10) 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. (11) 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. (12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. (13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

Isaiah the prophet who also lived prior to the Babylonian captivity and approximately 120 years prior to the time of Cyrus, actually mentions him by name:

“(1) Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;” (Isaiah 45:1)

The point is that God is in full control of the events in our world, and He sometimes lets us know what is going to happen ahead of time. There are no surprises with God. There is nothing that happens that God did not allow as part of His overall sovereign plan.


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