“Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.”
There are times when the promises of God seem unlikely, and other times when they seem impossible. The scene in which Ezra is set is one of those, “it looks impossible”, kind of times. Judah had been defeated, the city of Jerusalem destroyed, and the people scattered throughout Babylonia. To complicate matters, the Babylonians were defeated by the combined forces of the Medes and Persians, led by King Cyrus. Set against these conditions, was a remote and seemingly impossible promise. Years earlier, Jeremiah the prophet, predicted a king named Cyrus would rise to power, and give a decree, allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their city. I am sure, for the average Jew this promise seemed remote at best. I love that we read “in the first year of Cyrus.” God wasted no time in bringing His promise to fruition.
I wonder what you are facing. Perhaps it is something that causes you to question everything you think you know about God. Allow me to encourage you to look into the Word at His great and precious promises. I think you will discover truths that will stand up against whatever you are facing. Those truths will give you comfort, strength and hope, as you come to discover that no matter what the obstacle, the Word of God cannot fail.
Writing to the Romans Paul “. . . let God be true and every man a liar. . .” (Romans 3:4). Paul had learned that no matter what, God always keeps His promises.
“Stretch forth your hand.”
When Jesus entered the Synagogue, it seemed everyone in the room knew He would address the man with the withered hand. His disciples were watching carefully. This event would be seared into their memories, and written down in the timeless Word of God. The Pharisees watched Him closely, knowing His compassion would lead Him to the man, even though it was the Sabbath. I imagine the man with the withered hand also watched eagerly, hoping Jesus would do for him, what he had done for so many others. As Jesus approached him, this man must have been excitedly anticipating what Jesus was about to do. It is here, where the story gets most interesting to me. Instead of touching the man’s hand, speaking words of healing, or even asking him to do a religious task, Jesus simply says, “Stretch forth your hand.” What sounds like a simple request to you and me was actually an impossibility. Jesus asked this man to do the one thing that he was not able to do. Had He asked him to run to the priests, to offer a sacrifice of 1000 sheep, or even travel to the pool of Bethsaida; difficult as those things might have been, they were possible. But to stretch out his withered hand, he could not do. Something happened within this man the moment he chose to obey Jesus. The impossible, not only became possible, it happened. His hand was restored.
Often, we feel like this man. Jesus highlights something in our life, and calls us to change. We look at Him as if to say, “Jesus, I can’t. I’ve tried so many times and this is too hard for me.” Christian, allow me to encourage you. The moment you decide you will obey, is the moment He provides the supernatural ability to bring about change. Together, let’s stop looking at all the reasons we cannot overcome our weaknesses, and let’s focus on His ability to transform our lives and stretch forth our withered hands.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
This question was not asked on a theology exam, but in a real life situation. A one hundred year old man, and a ninety year old barren woman, were promised a child from whom a great nation would be established. The promises of God were met head on by the circumstances of life, making them seem so far-fetched, both Abraham and Sarah laughed. It was not improbable for a 90 year old woman to have a child, it was impossible. Not only was she passed the age of child bearing, but she had been infertile her whole life. What did not happen in her youth, could not happen in her old age. Yet in these circumstances, God made a promise. When the promise was doubted, God asked them a question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Life is filled with the improbable, and the impossible. We face things that are too difficult for us to handle on a regular basis. It is vital we come to understand, that while things may be beyond our strength, nothing is too hard for God. It was not difficult for him to miraculously provide a child to an elderly couple, nor will it be difficult for him to part a sea, provide water from a rock, knock down city walls, or topple a giant. Whatever we are facing, no matter how difficult it may seem, no matter what shadow it may cast over the promises of God, we can be sure there is nothing to hard for God.