When God Moves Hearts 1 – To Fulfil His Word
Updated: Feb 21, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfil the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build a temple for Him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of His people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’” (Ezra 1:1-4)
After the death of Solomon, his kingdom (aka the United Monarchy of Israel) was split into two, the Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south.
Due to the Israelites’ disobedience, God allowed His people to fall into the hands of foreign empires. Assyria conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 721 BC, and the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in the Kingdom of Judah in 587 BC. Under the rule of these empires, the people of Israel and Judah were exiled to foreign lands. The King of Persia, Cyrus the Great, conquered Babylon in 539 BC, taking over all the lands that Babylon ruled. This included the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
God “moved the heart” of Cyrus to allow the exiled Judeans (aka Jews) to return to Judah. He did it “to fulfil the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah”.
Cyrus was a Gentile, but God moved him to help His people. The Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple and the city. God works through Jews and Gentiles, believers and non-believers.
The prophet Daniel who had first served the Babylonians, and after that the Persians, might have played a part in this when he served Cyrus. He could have advised Cyrus of the prophecies about Babylon’s punishment of Israel (Jeremiah 25:8-13) and the end of their exile (Jeremiah 29:10-14). Daniel might also have shown Cyrus the prophecies that mentioned Cyrus by name, as the one who would help the rebuild of Jerusalem and the Temple (Isaiah 44:28-45:1-6). Isaiah's prophecies were written more than 150 years before Cyrus was born.
Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites – everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:5)
After working on Cyrus, God worked on the family heads and the religious leaders, “everyone whose heart God moved”, to prepare for the journey back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
Throughout history, God has worked through people. Whether kings, prophets or commoners, from foreign lands or His chosen nation, in times of war and years of peace, God moved the hearts of people to fulfil His word.
God still moves hearts, and it is still for the same reason – to fulfil His Word.
God has used His Word to warn us about our sins. He cautioned us about the consequences if we persist on in darkness and stray away from Him. He will move people and events to fulfil His warnings, and discipline us. God “disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.” He knows that discipline hurts us, “but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace”. We are His children, and He wants us to change because He loves us. (Hebrews 12:4-11)
God has used His Word to give us assurances of His love too. He promised us redemption and proved it with the ultimate sacrifice, by sending Jesus to die for us. He literally moved heaven and earth to rescue us from the most terrible condemnation, a fate we had brought upon ourselves. If that does not assure us of God’s faithfulness to His promises, what will? God has also promised us heaven where we will live in eternity with Him. We can be confident He will fulfil this promise too.
God will carry on moving hearts till the end of time, to fulfil His every word. Whether it is to teach us a lesson as He has warned, or to bless us as He has promised, God always does what He says. And He does it all out of love for us.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.