When God Moves Hearts 3 – He Will Provide
Updated: Feb 21, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
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)
When Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem, only a minority of them decided to take the journey. It is quite understandable that many would prefer to stay behind. After all, the journey was close to 1,500km and would require 3 to 4 months.
How would they fund such a long and costly journey? Besides they would arrive in a ruined city that would require a lot of resources to rebuild. Even if the farmers started farming the moment they arrived (assuming the season was right), it would still take some months before the first harvest grew. How were they going to find all that money and food to sustain themselves for so many months?
They received help from “all of their neighbours” who didn’t make the journey. The neighbours contributed financially with “articles of silver and gold”, with resources like “goods and livestock” and with “valuable gifts”, besides “freewill offerings”.
Would the ones who chose to make the journey have guessed that “all” of their neighbours would help them? And would they have expected their neighbours to be so generous? They wouldn’t have known.
God moved their hearts to return to Jerusalem and they responded. They knew it was going to be tough and costly, but they decided to do it nonetheless. But AFTER their decision was made, the floodgates opened and the resources were provided.
Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. This was the inventory: gold dishes 30, silver dishes 1,000, silver pans 29, gold bowls 30, matching silver bowls 410, other articles 1,000. In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:7-11)
It wasn’t only the Jews who gave to their fellow Jews, Cyrus himself contributed to their rebuilding. When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar took away all of the articles from the Temple and put them in a temple of his god. Looting was a common practice in ancient times, with the victor taking all the spoils. It was also a symbolic “my god is greater than your god” statement too.
Cyrus, however, generously gave these expensive temple articles of gold and silver, totalling 5,400 pieces, back to the Jews. The temple articles were important for the Jews’ worship. It would have been impossible for returning exiles to make them all again unless they used cheaper and inferior metals. Again, what they needed was provided.
The journey that God has called each of us to make is different. None of our journeys will be easy, but some will have to walk much tougher roads than others. “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Like the returning exiles, we sometimes wonder if we have the resources and ability to make our journey. Would I have the time and energy to commit to the life of a disciple? Do I have the skills and talents necessary to help build God’s church? Can I really live the life and do the things that God has called me to?
A Christian’s journey is a walk in faith. It is made in the knowledge that the road is arduous, but the destination is worthwhile. The trepidation we have as we take the first step will soon turn into confidence, as God will provide us with all that we need.
What dreams have God put into your heart? What gaps and needs do you see in church or your ministry? What has the Spirit prompted you to do for the people around you? Are you taking a step towards what God has called you to do, or do you wait for conditions to be right before you make the move? Are you circumstances led or Spirit led?
When God moves hearts, He will provide us with the strength we need. He will walk with us on our journey.
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.