Ezra 1:1-4 – 1 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:
2 “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. 3 Whoever 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 rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”
God is in control. How can we tell? God has shown us in his word, time after time after time, that he is in control. Take simply the return from exile in Ezra 1.
Years before the Jews were carried off to Babylon, God promised through Jeremiah that God’s people would return. Not only did God promise the return, but he promised exactly how many years the nation would be in exile before the return. Moreover, Isaiah told us the name of the future king who would order the return.
In Ezra 1, we see that the return happened in exactly the way God promised, at exactly the time God promised, under the command of exactly the king that God promised. What looked like an inescapable world empire was turned by the Lord to send the Jews back to their land. That same empire ordered that people help the Jews to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
If we know anything about the age in which we live, we must know this: God is in control. Yes, I know that our country seems out of control. I know that it looks like society is beyond the point of no return. But the truth of the matter is, God never changes. God never fails. God will save his children. God is in control.
I read the following that summarizes my thoughts here well in a commentary soon to be published by Crossway:
In our unstable world of superpowers and wars and rumors of wars, it is not Joe Biden or Vladimir Putin or anyone else who is in control—it is God. His purposes to save, bless, and keep a people for his glory cannot and will not be thwarted. Our God reigns, and he works throughout history and even uses unbelievers to achieve his purposes. If he can use Cyrus, he can use anybody. He rules and overrules the course of human history for his ends.1
1 Wallace P. Benn, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther: Restoring the Church in the Preaching the Word Commentary Series edited by R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton: Crossway, 2021), Ezra 1.