Read: Ezra 1:1-2:2 and 2:64-70
“Any of you who are His people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild the Temple of the LORD, The God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you! Wherever this Jewish remnant is found, let their neighbors contribute toward their expenses.” – King Cyrus of Persia – Ezra 1:3-4
The Israelites had been taken into exile under the Babylonians, and while in exile the Babylonian empire fell to the Persians (so at least they now had access to fabulous rugs). King Cyrus decides for the sake of stability in the kingdom to allow exiles to go back to their homelands. He specifically instructs the Jews to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.
Turns out that 42,000 go home to resettle the area and rebuild the temple. Even though 42,000 sounds like a large number, it was a small remnant. Most of the people of God chose to stay where they were. They had grown comfortable and the prospect of traveling for four months to go back to a land they had never seen and that was in desperate need of repair wasn’t all that attractive of a proposition. Staying in Babylon was a safe, comfortable and secure move.
So much here to unpack… First, we have God changing up kingdoms and kings to accomplish His purposes. He ultimately is in control of the affairs of men. Second, the exile didn’t last forever and neither do our trials and troubles.
Third, most of the people chose to stay put in Babylon. They settled for safety and security, and missed their destiny. God was rebuilding the Kingdom of Israel and most of the Israelites missed out on it. The Lord calls us to step out of our comfort zones and into the adventure of building His Kingdom, but we often settle for the familiar, the safe and secure and end up worshiping our own comfort.
The people who went back were the ones who got to be a part of what God was doing. They were the ones that the hope of the world (Jesus) would ultimately come through. They got to participate in the great drama and God’s great purpose for their lives.
We all get to decide just like the Israelites. Where will you land? Comfort zone or Christ’s great call. Make a decision and don’t look back… the adventure is what you were created for!
Lord, thank You for calling me to Your amazing mission in our world, for giving me a part to play in building Your Kingdom. I choose You above all else – even above my comfort. Today I declare; anywhere, anything, anyone, anyway You need me… I am in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.