Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled…
Dualities are everywhere seen. Amongst these are things passive and active; things ruled over and things ruling. The mechanical heavens are active and rule the passive earth. In animated nature rulers and subjects are individualized; most remarkably so in the kingdom of men. Passing into the spiritual world, we still find order and rule; "principalities and powers in the heavenlies" - amongst angels of light, also amongst angels of darkness. But behind all these sovereignties and over them is the glorious sovereignty of God.
I. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD IS ALL-CONTROLLING.
1. "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus."
(1) This he did by means. Josephus says that Cyrus was shown the places in Isaiah where he was mentioned by name and his exploits indicated about a century before he was born (see Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1-5). Possibly Daniel, who was in Babylon when Cyrus entered it, and the fame of whose wisdom was far-reaching, may have pointed them out to him.
(2) By his Spirit God made the means he employed effective. "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus." "He can turn the hearts of princes as the rivers of the south." Means are ineffectual without his blessing. That blessing should be sought upon all our undertakings.
2. By means of Cyrus God moved the Persian empire.
(1) The royal edict was issued.
(2) It was vocally proclaimed. Hebrews, caused a voice to pass, etc. This form of proclamation is for the multitude. For the multitude God causes his gospel to be preached.
(3) It was also written. This was for the magistrates. Also for reference. The word of the truth of the gospel is also written. This fixes its certainty.
3. The sequel shows how cordial was the response. As the exodus from Egypt was a figure of the emancipation of the believer in Christ from the bondage of sin, so was the return from the captivity of Babylon.
II. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD IS ALL-PERVADING.
1. He rules the world according to a grand plan.
(1) This fact is seen in the Scriptures of prophecy. Broad outlines of future history of the world drawn (see for example Genesis 9:25-27). Here consider "the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah" (see Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 29:10).
(2) Further seen in the conversion of prophecy into history. Examples abound. Example before us in the restoration of Judah from the captivity of Babylon. The time was "in the first year of Cyrus." This was B.C. 536. Add to this the seventy years of Jeremiah's prophecy, and we have the year B.C. 606, the very year in which "Nebuchadnezzar carried Jehoiakim and the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon (see 2 Chronicles 36:6, 7).
2. The plan of Providence includes the means to be employed for the accomplishment of his purposes.
(1) Stirs up the spirits of men to study his word (see Daniel 9:2). Stirred up the spirit of Cyrus also. Daniel was stirred up to pray; Cyrus, to act. It is God's order that his people should pray for their blessings (see Ezekiel 36:37). There is often a connection between the prayers of the good and the better actions of the wicked.
1. Learn that there is no such thing as chance.
(1) Afflictions do not spring out of the dust.
(2) See the hand of God in our deliverances.
2. Learn that providences are often retributive.
(1) The seventy years of captivity were in retribution for seventy sabbatic years in which selfishness refused the land her rest, and consequently the poor their privileges (comp. Leviticus 25:1-6, and 2 Chronicles 36:21).
(2) If we open our eyes we may see the operation of retributive providences every day. "Be sure your sin will find you out." - J. A. M.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
WEB: Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and [put it] also in writing, saying,