2 John 1; Ezra 5-6; Psalm 93
The Jews had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple under the decree of King Cyrus. As they built though, opposition arose in the land until the people who had been resettled there by the Assyrians convinced a successor king to order the rebuilding to stop. It stopped for awhile. Then, prophets arose who reminded the Jews that God had worked through Cyrus because He wanted the Temple rebuilt and they restarted the building. When the leaders of the land couldn’t stop them, they sent back to the new king, Darius, and asked about the situation. The archives were searched, the edict of Cyrus was found and King Darius responded: “Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site. Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered.” (Ezra 6:7-8) Not only would the work of rebuilding the Temple continue, the Jews would be supported out of the king’s taxes. The idea of government supporting a religion seems strange to those of us in a world of religious freedom, but these were different times. While the king could not rule contrary to a previous king’s ruling, he could decide how to spend tax money as he wanted. He did, as we read later, put a reason for his ruling: the Jews were to pray for the life of the king and his sons. It’s interesting that this same theme, praying for political leaders, is a theme echoed by Paul in the New Testament. In some cases, as here, the government helps God’s people. In some cases, such as in the United States today, government is supposed to be neutral. In still other cases, such as in Paul’s day and in many countries today, the government actively opposes and persecutes God’s people. The responsibility of God’s people is still the same: we are to pray for our political leaders. Today, take the time to pray for political leaders at the national, state and local level. Don’t pray just for the ones you like. Don’t pray against the ones you don’t like. Pray for God to bless them and keep them safe. Pray for God to give them godly wisdom that they might make good decisions. Pray for His direction and guidance in the work that they do. God is in control, but He still works through political leaders of all types – even those like Cyrus and Darius.
Lord, as I come to You today my prayer is that You would bless our nation. Give our leaders the wisdom they need to govern this country. Keep them safe and let them see the fullness of Your love. Guide and direct them in all that they do that we may have Your peace in this land and in the world.