Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple of your God. (Ezra 7:19).
The Lord God keeps his promises. Every one of them. In a manner that exceeds expectations. Who would have thought that a heathen king would willingly give back to Israel treasured spoils of war? The Lord God had warned his Chosen People that he would send judgment upon them. Their lax love and fickle faithfulness would not go unchecked.
The promised judgment came fast and furious. Assyria (now home of the Syrians) slashed through the defenses of the Northern 10 Tribes of Israel—obliterating them without a trace. Babylon (now home of Iraq) later overran the remaining two tribes. The Temple of the Lord was smashed. The precious items in it, many of gold and silver, were carried away as loot. The best citizens were led away as captives. It was much worse than our 9-11. Gone was the glory of Israel. Gone was its wealth. Gone was its power. But not gone was its hope.
The Lord God had promised that after 70 years the captives would be set free. He promised that the wealth of Israel would be returned. He promised that his Temple would be restored. The Lord God keeps his promises. Every one of them. In a manner that exceeds expectations. Listen to these further words by the Persian king:
“Now I, King Artaxerxes, decree that all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates are to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you—up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of olive oil, and salt without limit. Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven (Ezra 7:21-23).
An upheaval of national powers made this possible. Overnight Babylon was overthrown by the Persians. The captives of Israel were then told they could go home. After that came the executive order that the treasures stolen from Israel were to be returned—and more was to be given to the captives, just for the asking.
It may have seemed impossible, but it should not have been unexpected. The Lord God keeps his promises. Those captives needed to return. That Temple needed to be rebuilt. A greater promise was at stake. God’s own Son would visit that Temple. God’s own Son would free those held captive to sin, death, and the devil. God’s own Son would rescue us. Why, then, should we worry if it seems that the world is out of control and danger lurks around every corner?
A king greater than Artaxerxes has made his decree. We are his. Heaven is ours. This he has promised. This is certain. He is the promise keeper.
Lord God of the Nations, the history of the world stands as testimony to the faithfulness of your promises. Enable us to never doubt you again. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida, Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military