In the historical books of the Bible, we learn that God is intimately involved in history and the destiny of nations. We discover an inspired historical record that encourages us to believe that God can and will answer our prayers for America. In the Book of Ezra, for example, we read that God inspired King Cyrus of Persia to urge the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple that the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed some seventy years earlier.
“Now 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, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who 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 build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-3)
God inspired King Cyrus to issue a decree to make Jerusalem great again. God had promised through Jeremiah the prophet that He would restore the children of Israel from exile, and He did exactly as He promised. When God restores Israel or any nation, He always begins by restoring the heart of the city, the altar and the house of worship.
At the urging of King Cyrus, a group of Israelites returned to begin rebuilding the Temple. They rebuilt the altar and laid the foundation, but in the face of opposition the work on the Temple stopped, and the people turned their attention to building their own homes. More than fifteen years later, about 520 BC, during the reign of King Darius, the prophets Haggai and Zechariah urged the people to resume their work, and by 516 BC, the Temple was complete.
Ezra himself only arrived in Jerusalem years later about 458 BC after the Temple project was completed. On arriving in Jerusalem, Ezra found that the people of Israel once again had lost their way. Ezra was visibly distressed, and his reaction had an immediate impact on the people in Jerusalem. They trembled when they recognized their conduct was rebellion to God’s will. Beginning in Ezra 9:6, we read Ezra’s deeply moving and instructive prayer of intercession on behalf of the people.
Ezra stresses our personal responsibility in regard to sin.
“Our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” (Ezra 9:6–7)
Ezra does not blame the lost for the condition of the nation, but rather he holds the people of God accountable. It was they who had the light and knowledge of God’s truth, and the responsibility for living in accordance with the truth fell squarely on their shoulders.
Ezra reminds us that God is merciful and gracious. God did not forsake Israel in their bondage, but He extended mercy to Israel in the sight of the kings of Persia.
“He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins…” (Ezra 9:9)
Notably, Ezra acknowledges that God extended favor to them in the sight of the kings of Persia. He recognized that God used the earthly kings of Persia — Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes — to advance God’s plan and purpose. Ezra shows us the historic reality that God can and often does use the most unlikely people to advance His purposes and plans in the earth. God has just the right person to accomplish His purpose.
Indeed, God is using leaders today, including President Trump, much as He used the kings of Persia to advance God’s purpose in the earth. Despite the efforts to frame President Donald Trump, he is emerging more determined than ever to bless Israel and to help restore America. God is calling America back to justice and righteousness and is using President Trump in the process. If we follow, God will lead America through to repentance, healing, and true greatness! Even as Ezra acknowledged that God gave His people favor with kings of Persia, we also should thank God for our President and pray that God will fulfill His purposes and plans through him.