Read Ezra 1
Focus on verse 7
I recall hearing a testimony of a man who at the young age of fourteen was encouraged to get job by his parents. Because he was a good worker it was not long and he was earning a decent wage on a part-time basis as he went to school. His parents were not wealthy, so when after his sixteenth birthday he was informed that as long as he was earning money he would be required to pay some rent to his parents. Thought he was not happy about it, he agreed, grumbling to his friends about his miserly parents and the rent he had to pay to live at home. When he graduated from high school and began to look at colleges and the tuition that was required to go to the school he had hoped he could attend, he began to wish that he had saved more of the money that he had earned while he was in high school.
He was about to inform the college of his choice that he would not be able to attend even though he had been accepted, when his parents presented him with a check that would pay for his entire tuition if he was careful how he lived while at college. They had put all the rent money that he had paid them into an interest bearing savings account with the intention of giving it back to him when he needed it for something important.
This is not unlike what God did for his people when they went into exile for seventy years in Babylon. The king of Babylon carried off all the gold and silver bowls and vessels for use in the temple and placed them in his own temple in Babylon. When Cyrus king of Persia conquered the Babylonians, he presents all these treasures back to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah who was leading the exiles back to rebuild the temple. In the grand scheme of things God used a couple of pagan kings to secure the sacred vessels and treasures of His temple until His people were ready to re-inhabit the land and serve Him according to the covenant that their forefathers had failed to keep.
The moral of the story…? There are times when we don’t understand why God would allow certain things to happen. When bad things happen to what appear to be good people, we question the moral character of God. Yet we rarely, if ever, see the whole picture. I’m sure there were those in Judah who did not understand why God would allow the Babylonians to destroy the temple. They did not see the whole picture, but in this case we do because God gives the promise to Jeremiah that is fulfilled seventy years later when according to the word of Jeremiah Cyrus decrees the return of the exiles and the rebuilding of the temple.
When we experience things we don’t understand, these are the times when we need to trust in the character of God, that though we do not understand, and though it may be a painful time for us, that He is still in control and has a plan…”not to harm us, but to give us a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)