Friday, 31 May 2013

Inspiration from a Pagan King

I'm impressed with particular details of Atarxerxes' decree as recorded in Ezra 7.  Elements of it could just as easily have come from a prophet or a modern day leader such as our President, Pastor Ted Wilson... even Jesus Himself.

1. Thesis on Stewardship
"Now therefore, be careful to buy with this money bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them on the altar of the house of your God in Jerusalem. And whatever seems good to you and your brethren to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do it according to the will of your God." Verses 17 & 18.

What an inspired lecture in stewardship. Even after you give God His due (the tithe and offering today, as typified in this passage by the bulls, rams, and lambs etc.), be careful to spend "the rest... according to the will of... God."

2. A Mandate to Teach God's Word
"Set magistrates and judges who may judge all the people who are in the region beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach those who do not know them." Verse 25.

I hear an echo of the spirit and essence of this passage in Matthew 28: 19, 20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

The aspect of judgement on those who do not conform to God's laws is somehow captured in Matt. 24: 14, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."  In the end those who submit to Christ will be saved; those who don't will be damned. All, as a prerequisite to God executing judgement, will have been taught His law/the Gospel.

God's Doing
Of note, as spoken by Ezra himself, this was not king Artaxerxes' doing, it was God's. And may I testify that He's still working in the affairs of men and in the lives of individuals - not in a pushy way, but with the steadfastness of a loving parent who wants the best for her/his children.