God’s Sovereignty in Human History
Today’s reading: Ezra 1-2; John 19:23-42
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that 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. Ezra 1:1,2
36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” John 19:36-37
God providentially and sovereignly rules over every event of history, whether the participants recognize it or not.
We have two cases in today’s readings where human agents did God’s will. In one case there was conscious participation and in the other there was probably not.
Ezra records God’s sovereign moving by His Spirit in Cyrus the king of Persia to make a decree to send Jewish exiles back to Judah to rebuild the temple. Ezra knows this is the Lord’s doing in the heart of Cyrus, but Cyrus in his written decree shows that he, too, recognizes that it is God who has given him political power and charged him to build the Lord a “house at Jerusalem.” So Cyrus responds in conscious obedience to God to carry out the order by making his own decree to the exiles to gather resources and go do the work. God further moved in the exiles to want to do this project. God’s hand is seen at every level here.
The details surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and burial all reveal that Scripture is being fulfilled while the participants seem to be unconscious of that fact. The soldiers cast lots for His garment. They fore go breaking His legs to hasten His death, but, thrust a spear in His side. All of these actions are related by John to earlier prophecy and are fulfilled precisely. Yet there is no indication that the soldiers have either knowledge of the Scripture or awareness of the importance of their seemingly inconsequential actions.
Are you aware that the events of this day, whether in Washington, DC, or Moscow, Russia, or Moscow, Idaho are all under God’s providence? He does hold the whole world in His hands while we go about often oblivious to this truth. Are we robots? No, we act freely, but God engineers the outcomes and purposes so that His will is perfectly carried out. We may choose to obey Him or not but, in the end, He will be glorified and all that He purposes will come to pass.
Do not fret that the world is out of control and going to hell in a hand basket. God is still on the throne. Be confident in Him and grateful to Him and ,like Cyrus, do what He gives you to do.