God stirred the hearts of many to return to Zion when Cyrus granted them license to do so after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. Those who chose not to return with the exiles, for whatever reason, pitched in with the expenses and presented the departing party with many expensive and valuable gifts to help them with their project. What was even more surprising is that, as recorded in Ezra 1:7-11, Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.”

After 70 years of captivity, God moves to keep his promise and arranges for their return to the promised land. He told the people through the prophet Jeremiah that the exile would last for 70 years. They would live as such one year for each year they failed to observe the year of Jubilee. But when that time was up, they would be restored to their rightful place in Israel. God tells Israel in Jeremiah 29:10, “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” God always keeps His promises but even more he provides for the fulfillment of his promise as well. God will see to it, Himself. He makes sure that those returning have the resources they need to make the journey. In Ezra 1:4, Cyrus directed the residents to give the captives silver and gold and whatever they needed for their return. In verses 7-11, we see, “And the provision went even further. Cyrus returned all the sacred vessels Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple at the conquest of Jerusalem.”[1]

God is the great promise keeper. Psalm 145:13 ends with the statement, according to the Contemporary English Version, “Our Lord, you keep your word and do everything you say.” Just as God kept His promise to the exiles in Babylon, so too will he keep his promises to those who believe in Him today. In John 14:3, Jesus tells us that he has gone to prepare a place for us. He closes that verse with a promise to you and me. He says, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” An interesting part of this promise is that Jesus said he will “take you.” He doesn’t say you will work your way, but that he will take you to Himself. He made a promise of our deliverance, and then he assures us that He will fulfill the promise. Not only that, but he will be the one to make it happen. Just as Abraham trusted God and his faith was counted as righteousness, so too is our faith counted as righteousness. God promised Abraham that He would fulfill that promise even though He knew in advance the many time Abraham would fail. He gives us the promise of eternal life after death even though He knew the times we would fail. It’s a promise that is based on God’s faithfulness, not on our righteousness. That’s how we can be sure. We can rest confidently in God’s promise knowing that just as he fulfilled all His promises to Abraham and knowing that He fulfilled his promise to the exiles, He too will fulfill His promise to those who believe in Jesus. In John 11:25-26, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

[1] Williams, Peter. 2006. Opening up Ezra. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications.