And in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon came with all his army against Jerusalem and laid siege to it. And they built siegeworks all around it. 2 Kings 25:1 ESV
After many years of warning, God finally had enough and sent the Babylonians to punish Judah for their sin. Neuchadnezzar besieged and defeated Jerusalem, captured and blinded Zedekiah the king, carried the people into exile, pillaged, and burned the temple. All that remained were of the poorest of the land and the destroyed houses and temple. However, due to fear of the Chaldeans, even they fled Judah, leaving the land barren and empty.
He [Nebuchadnezzar] took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 ESV
Jeremiah’s prophecies were fulfilled and the people went into exile for refusing to listen to God’s commands. But that wasn’t the end of Israel’s story. After their seventy year punishment, God stirred up Cyrus, king of Persia’s, spirit to make a proclamation.
“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. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.’” 2 Chronicles 36:23 ESV
I imagine the people of Judah were overjoyed to hear Cyrus decree that they could return to their land and build the LORD’s a new temple. They were perhaps sorrowful as well, knowing that in their state they could never build a temple as magnificent as Solomon’s was. Maybe they thought upon Psalm 126 and rejoiced in the LORD’s mercy and love.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126 ESV
I, too, an filled with joy due to God’s goodness.
Dear God, Thank You for Your mercy. Please help me obey Your ways and follow You. Thank You for doing great things for me. In Your Holy Name, Amen.