In January I started reading through the Bible beginning with Genesis. I am currently reading the book of Ezra in the Old Testament. Have you read the Old Testament lately? Some of it can be a little dull, I must admit, but so many of the stories and prophesies are absolutely fascinating! I love how I learn new things each time I read through the Bible, and how different things pop out at me. As I explained this concept to my kids, my 3 year old was trying to understand. He said, "Oh, God changes the words in the Bible every time you read it!?" Nope, the words have stayed the same.
Here is what got my attention as I was reading just now:
Ezra 1:1-2 (and then grab your Bible and keep on reading!)
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing: "This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah."
When I think of the time before Jesus came to earth, I always think about God communicating primarily with the Jewish people. Silly me. God is so much bigger than that! Ezra is a great account of how God also interacted with those who were not Jewish. Cyrus let over 42,000 Israelite people return to Jerusalem to rebuild God's temple. When their work was hindered by other people, God directed king Darius to find Cyrus' decree in the archives and to write a new decree stating that the work on the temple should continue and that it would be funded by his kingdom. God did not choose even king David to build his temple, but he chose to work through Cyrus and Darius. This reminds me to pray for the leaders of our country and the leaders of other countries. God can use even the most unlikely candidates to do his will.
This is just one of many amazing accounts that are recorded in the Bible. Whether you believe that the Bible is true or not, whether you have read it a hundred times, or never, I strongly encourage you to pick up a Bible each day and read some of it. I firmly believe that the Bible is true and accurate and I find it so interesting to ponder the world's history in relation to God's role in it. If you are reading this and do not have a Bible, please let me know and I will be happy to send one to you.