“Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings.” Ezra 1:5-6
God not only stirred the spirit of Cyrus to grant freedom to the captives, but He also stirred the hearts of the Jews to give them the desire to return to Judah. “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13)The same God who ordains the end of captivity and the rebuilding of the Temple also ordains the means to the end, in this case, a people willing to go to Judah and work. Looking at this scripture we see God moving to complete the prophecy of Daniel.
Everything in God’s work rises and falls with leadership. When God wants to accomplish something, He calls dedicated men and women to challenge His people and lead the way. A break down in the quality of a nation’s leaders is an indication that trouble is ahead. Though the returning exiles were a minority, they were a spirit-stirred minority. They were dedicated to the difficult and discouraging task of returning to a ruined city and once there to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
It was essential that God move the spirits of these returning exiles, because they faced many difficulties. The journey itself was long, dangerous, and expensive. They returned to a city in ruins with no proper homes, roads, or city institutions. They didn’t have all the material resources they needed. They didn’t all return to Jerusalem but spread out over the province of Judea. They had many enemies. Their land was actually the possession of another empire.