When God Moves Hearts 2 – Will You Respond?
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. (Ezra 1:1)
According to history, his regal titles in full were The Great King, King of Persia, King of Anshan, King of Media, King of Babylon, King of Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Corners of the World. He was also commonly called Cyrus the Great, for good reason. He was a mighty conqueror and his empire was at that time, the greatest ever!
God moved Cyrus to allow His people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple. Cyrus thus issued a proclamation 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...’” (Ezra 1:2-4)
Cyrus issued the edict in 539 BC, the very same year he conquered Babylon and rose into power. This idea that God planted in his heart became the model he adopted for all the other nations and races under his rule too.
While most conquerors throughout history enforced their culture, worship and way of life on their subjects, Cyrus was different. He respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. He appointed satraps over the provinces of his empire and gave them considerable autonomy. The esteem and regard he had for his subjects made them happy and this helped in the stability and growth of his empire. Cyrus was highly respected by friends and foes, and is regarded by many even today, as one of the best rulers in history.
God moved Cyrus’ heart and he responded. He served God’s purpose for him, and he was rewarded with one of the greatest empires ever.
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. All their neighbours assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. (Ezra 1:5-6)
The generation that were deported almost five decades before were either very old or already dead. Most of the exiles that decided to return to Jerusalem were born and raised in a foreign land. They had no memories of Jerusalem, no feelings of nostalgia, and no sense of belonging to the land of their parents and grandparents. They had of course heard stories of the land that God gave their forefathers, and how they were conquered because of their unfaithfulness. But what they had was, at best, “inherited” faith and “second hand” affinity to Jerusalem.
They had to uproot themselves and their families from the life they knew, and travel to a place they’d never seen. They knew it was a long and dangerous journey. And they would arrive in a devastated city, which they would have to take years to rebuild. Yet when God moved their hearts, they responded and returned to Jerusalem.
As for the ones that didn’t go, God moved their hearts to contribute in other ways. They provided silver, gold, goods, livestock, valuable gifts and freewill offerings. When God moved their hearts, they contributed generously.
We are part of God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. We have been called to bring His message to the lost, and His love to the needy. His voice speaks to us from the Word, and His Spirit prompts us daily. God still moves hearts, but do we respond?
In respecting the God of the Jews, Cyrus risked looking soft. And in giving them autonomy, Cyrus risked losing control. The returning Jews took a huge leap into the unknown to start a new life in an unfamiliar place. The generous Jews put a lot of trust in the returning Jews with their contributions.
When God moves our hearts, it takes FAITH to respond.
What holds us back from responding? What excuses do we give? Do we trust that God’s plan is always for the best? Let us be assured “that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Discuss with a brother or sister what God has moved you to do. And work out plans how you can respond to God's prompting. Take a leap of faith, and watch God work miracles through you.
When God moves hearts, will you respond?
Read more about 'When God Moves Hearts':
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.