What can God do with a nation if he wants? What can God do with a political ruler, even a flawed one, if he wants? What can God do to change the circumstances of his people if he wants? The answer is clear: anything he wants.
At the end of 2 Chronicles, after the people of Judah have gone captive to Babylon for their rebellion against the Lord, we get a little post script.
2 Chronicles 36:22-23 – 22 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: 23 “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. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’ ”
So, around 606 B.C., God had allowed the first set of nobles from Judah to go captive to Babylon. In around 586, the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple razed, and the rest of the nation carried off. It looked to all sensible people like the nation was at an end. Surely the Lord could not and would not do anything to rebuild a nation of such rebels.
But the Lord had promised that the nation would be captive for seven decades. After that time, the Lord would return his people to their land. But again, this looks purely impossible. No observer of that day, without exercising pure faith in the Lord, could have ever believed it would happen.
But, this passage tells us of a decree that went out around 538 B.C., just about s decades from the original captivity of nobles. It was sent out by a Persian king, because in the intervening time, the strongest empire in the world, the Babylonian Empire, was toppled by the Medo-Persian Empire. And the ruler of Persia, led by a God he did not even believe in, gave a directive to send captive Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of God. In fact, the king even funded the building project.
Think this through as you consider the power of God over nations or over our lives. There is nothing the Lord cannot accomplish. He can set up a nation and he can bring one down. He can restore fortunes or he can overthrow rulers. The Lord’s plans are not helped or hindered by politicians. Instead, kings, presidents, and princes are tools in the hand of the Lord.
May we not think our hope comes from our nation. Nor may we think our nation could ever be strong enough to stand against the Lord. Our God will do his will for his glory. We are to bow to him as the Lord. Let us obey the Lord. Let us find our hope in his goodness and his sovereign power. Let us pray that he will lead our leaders to pass laws that honor the ways of the Lord. But may we never think even for a moment that the Lord needs such things for his will to be done. God is God, sovereign over all. He is Lord, and he is worthy of all praise.