Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Enigma

This is an unusually long piece for me. I've penned it for personal reasons - - especially as I consider the body politic in general, and the upcoming elections specifically. Before I make my way to the polls come November, I want to be thorough in knowing & owning the rationale I exercise in response to so great a privilege & duty.  

It seems there are many among us who have a serious case of apoplexy about who is best qualified to lead this land. I admit, I've scratched my head a fair amount over the past year as well; though stopping short of apoplexy.  There are just so many moving parts & flapping jaws that it's easy to get swept up into the fray. 

I find the cacophony of voices somewhat annoying, if not altogether confusing. It seems that some have dotted all the "i"s and crossed all the "t"s for us, going on to announce how we (especially true believers) will lean this way or that. Others promote dropping out altogether, their advocacy going something like this: "Voting for the lesser of two evils is still evil."  That may float some boats, but not mine. 

Thus this post.

It is here I interject the enigma that is Cyrus or, as the Hebrew scriptures call him: Koresh. He's known as "The Great", and even a cursory survey of his life & times reveals exactly why he is deserving of that title. 

Born in approximately 580 BC, Cyrus was a powerful ruler for some 30 years. 

His was a conquering bent, like so many power-hungry leaders in antiquity.  No doubt his battles were bloody & violent, but he had a unique method of subjugating peoples & nations. 

Cyrus espoused a pagan worldview - most likely Zoroasterism.  He was inclusive in his leanings, which allowed him to pay homage to the god of Babylonia, Marduk; and which would also influence him to allow people to worship whomever & however they wished. In this regard he differed from world rulers that came before or after him. He offered a form of democracy & largess that continues to be his legacy.  Indeed, his methods were unique & rare. 

It was under the auspices of Cyrus that the cruel Babylonian regime met its swift demise, while simultaneously God's people, the Jews, found a new advocate for their human rights.  He was history's pivot, whereby Daniel's 70 week prophecy was set into motion.  He brought a profound conclusion of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews.

Roughly 150 years before his birth, the scriptures tell us (Isaiah, chapters 44 & 45), that God had designs on Cyrus; and those for good & mighty feats that would bring His own word to fruition.

That's what intrigues me. 

Remember, Cyrus was hardly a man of God, but even in his pagan state he would be a man after God's own heart & used powerfully to bless God's people.  It was to Cyrus that God had this to say:

I will go before you and make hills level;
I will tear apart the bronze doors and
cut the iron bars in two.
And I will give you the treasures of darkness,
even treasures in secret places,
that you may know that I am the Lord
who calls you by your name,
I the God of Israel. 
Isaiah 45:2-3

No doubt God summoned other (if not all) leaders throughout the ages, many by name.  These, too, were used as instruments of providence.  But Cyrus ... his is a saga that is vastly different in scope & mission.  I wonder if his stance towards God's people had anything to do with his greatness?

I will bless those who bless you (Israel),
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you. 
Genesis 12:3

More than the Oscar Schindler of his day, Cyrus made it possible for God's people to return to their homeland, and to live according to their own religious beliefs. 

Glorified by Ezra and by Isaiah, he is the one the Jews speak of when they say:  "Yahweh, the God of heaven has given all the Kingdoms of the earth into your hands"  Even today, they often refer to him as "the anointed of the Lord" or a "Messiah". 

Josephus, the historian tells us:    "In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people, according as he had foretold to them by Jeremiah the prophet, before the destruction of the city, that after they had served Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, and after they had undergone that servitude seventy years, he would restore them again to the land of their fathers, and they should build their temple, and enjoy their ancient prosperity. And these things God did afford them; for he stirred up the mind of Cyrus ...".  

It would seem, then, that Cyrus' pagan perspectives did not disqualify him for service.  He was named & raised up for a time such a this ...

"I have raised him up to be ethical and
have made all his ways direct.
He shall build my city, and he will release my captives;
not for price, nor reward, says the Lord of hosts"  
Isaiah 45:3

There can be no mistake:  God is sovereign.  He has power & authority over man's destiny, and He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21 

God is always right on schedule, and with the right man of His hour ... for OURhour ... times such as this.  I'm so grateful that He isn't given to apoplexy!  

All that to say:  "Self, relax.  If God can love, and even use a pagan like Cyrus, then surely He'll have no difficulty using whichever man is in office come November.  So seek Him, and make your way to the polls.  In good faith, cast your ballot.  Then leave the outcome in His capable hands."

The Christian Courier


Denise said...

Amen, powerful post my friend.

Rebecca said...

Great summary in your paragraph "All that to say:"!

God IS sovereign.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Amen...I totally agree and when I hear someone say, "well he is the anti-christ" I so, well then the Lord is coming soon. It is God who directs the heart of the king...or president as it is in America.

Great post!!

Sonja said...

I'm smiling out loud! :)

Debbie said...

AMEN....This was soo powerful. loved it... : )

Nel said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing!
until next time... nel

skoots1mom said...

yes, i agree wholeheartedly, and have had many dreams about our state of affairs in this country...
Call on His Name; He will heal our land. ;)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

When Israel decided they wanted a king, Samuel was upset. God chided him and said they were rejecting Him not Samuel. The Israelites got what they wanted and suffered the consequences. God will not force us to obey Him.

Electing a leader is serious business. I, for one, won't take an attitude of "whoever gets in is God's will." It's a time for much prayer.

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

I truly appreciate your hopeful, peace-loving, and rational attitude in this post.

If more people would dial down the rhetoric and dial up their prayerful considerations, we would all be better off.
Blessings to you - Marsha

Just a little something from Judy said...

Well, this is certainly a most profound post! After just coming through a study on the power of our God, I offer my hearty AMEN to your thoughts. God is the designer of this world and His plan shall be carried out. I will pray that God gives me the wisdom to vote for the best one, but I am totally aware that it is His plan that shall go forth. In my mind, this is one of the best written pieces on the coming election. Thank you for sharing your heart and His wisdom.

Jackie said...

Amen and Amen, Kathleen!