15: God at work through unexpected people (Ezra 1:1-3)

Scripture ReadingEzra 1:1-3

The Book of Ezra begins with a decree from King Cyrus of Persia, allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Cyrus was doing his work as king, seeking his personal and institutional ends. Yet this was a result of God’s work within him, advancing God’s own purposes. God is in control, yet chooses to work through human beings to accomplish his will.

Ezra describes several efforts to squelch construction. Finally Darius, king of Persia, underwrote the building effort financially in the hope that the Lord might bless him and his sons. The Jews actually did the work of rebuilding the temple. Yet their labors were successful because of help from two pagan kings, one who inaugurated the project and the other who paid for its completion. Behind these human efforts loomed the overarching work of God, who moved in the hearts of the kings and encouraged his people through the prophets.

Workplace Christians today also live in trust that God is active through the decisions and actions of non-Christian people and institutions. The actions of our boss, co-workers, customers and suppliers, rivals, regulators or a myriad of other actors may be furthering the work of God’s kingdom unrecognized by either us or them. That should prevent us from both despair and arrogance. If Christian people and values seem absent from your workplace, don’t despair — God is still at work. On the other hand, if you are tempted to see yourself or your organization as a paragon of Christian virtue, beware! God may be accomplishing more through those with less visible connection to him than you realize.

Prayer: Lord, you are God, and you are good. You are at work even when I don’t see it. Especially in times of despair or discouragement, help me trust that in all things you are working for the good of those who love you. Amen.

For Further Exploration: Read Ezra and Work from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.

Author: Theology of Work Project

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