I was just reading through the book of Ezra for an assignment in my OT Historical Books class. A major part of the assignment is to trace the role and portrayal of the foreigner throughout the historical books. The rest of the assignment is an exegesis of a particular text and how it relates to a contemporary issue of injustice towards “the other.”
So, I just started on Ezra and as I was taking notes from chapter 1 I came to this verse:
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lordby the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so cthat he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
As I went to make my notes for this passage, I almost wrote something like: “King Cyrus ends the exile” or something to that point…
But then it hit me: the pagan King Cyrus of Persia did not just send the exiles home. He had caught a vision from God and he sent the exiles home on a mission – God’s mission through the lips of a pagan king. Interesting huh?
While I don’t have time to really reflect on this at the moment, I thought it was enough of an insight to share. I think those of us in the Church may have some learning to do when it comes to listening to those silly “pagans” – especially those foreign ones – and all their silly ideas (sarcasm implied). Maybe we should actually listen and help out sometimes? Who knows… maybe the Lord has stirred in their hearts too?