The prophet Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, declared, “ ‘Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid’ ” (Isaiah 44:28, ESV).
There’s a couple of challenges here. First, when Isaiah penned these words, Solomon’s temple was in fine shape, standing right where it had been for three hundred years. So, why should the temple be built or rebuilt? And secondly, who in the world is this Cyrus fella? Nobody had ever heard of him because he wasn’t born yet!
More than a hundred years later, in 586 B.C., Solomon’s temple was destroyed and Judah was exiled to Babylon. Then, in 539 B.C., the Persians, under the leadership of Cyrus, overthrew the Babylonians setting up the incredible event that occurred in 538 B.C.
Before we get to that, here’s another fun fact. Jeremiah, also inspired by the Holy Spirit, had prophesied, “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10, ESV).
The Babylonians began their siege against Jerusalem in 607 B.C. In the first deportation, Daniel and his buddies were captured and taken to Babylon. In 598, Jeconiah the king was deported. Then in 586, Jerusalem was destroyed.
Seventy years after the Babylonian siege began in 607, God moved in the heart of a Persian king named Cyrus! Yes! Seventy years! Just like God had promised! God had a plan, and He worked that plan to perfection! By the way, He still has a plan!
The Book of Ezra begins: “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 that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: ‘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, ESV).
Who do you suppose God would use to lead the first wave of Israelites back to Jerusalem? Right! The great, great, great ... grandson of David, and the great, great, great ... grandfather of Jesus: Zerubbabel.
When Zerubbabel and the battered band of exiles arrived in Jerusalem, worship was their priority. Zerubbabel and “his brothers began to build the altar of Israel’s God in order to offer burnt offerings on it” (Ezra 3:2, CSB). Soon afterward, “Zerubbabel ... began to rebuild God’s house in Jerusalem” (Ezra 5:2, CSB).
Before your great grandmother was born, God knew your name! He knew... He knows all about you... every fault and failure... every gift of grace... every hair and every freckle. He has a plan, and His plan includes you!