Over one hundred and fifty years before Babylon fell to Darius’ armies under King Cyrus, God had spoken of this moment of freedom for His exiled people through the prophet Isaiah. The transfer of power from Babylon to Medo-Persia brought about an almost immediate royal decree to send a group of the exiles back to Jerusalem to begin re-building their destroyed temple, starting with a laying of its foundation. This would ultimately lead to a rebuilding of the entire city.
24 This is what the Lord says, He who is your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb:
“I, the Lord, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth alone,
26 Confirming the word of His servant
And carrying out the purpose of His messengers.
It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’
And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’
And I will raise her ruins again.
28 It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd,
And he will carry out all My desire.’
And he says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ Isaiah 44:24,26,28 (NASB)
The Lord had used Babylon as an instrument of judgment and correction against Judah for their ongoing stubborn idolatry and rejection of Him. The people remained in exile for seventy years while their farmlands back home lay fallow to catch up with their required sabbath year rests as specified by the laws God gave to Moses, laws that had been ignored for almost five hundred years.
God is serious about His law, so serious that He remembers even five hundred years later the failure to keep it. But He also understands the weakness of our flesh and our inability to obey. He made provision for this by coming as a man, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully human. Because of God’s great love for us, Jesus came to take upon Himself the judgment and punishment that we deserve for our sins and failures. After dying on a cross for us despite His complete innocence, Jesus was raised from the dead so that we believers may also experience eternal life with Him.
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (NASB)
God had revealed His plan to restore Israel from exile when He called Cyrus through the prophet Isaiah. God also foreshadowed our restoration from sin through the writings of many prophets about the coming of Christ.
When we turn to Christ in faith, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a daily wellspring of life, encouraging, cleansing, and forgiving us for our sins. When we seek to follow God’s ways, He makes all things possible for us.
Even with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we still often fail and fall short of the life we seek to live for God. Although He could keep a record of all of our sins and shortcomings, the Lord chooses to “remember them no more” when we come to Him in humble repentance to seek forgiveness.
3 If You, Lord, were to keep account of guilty deeds,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You,
So that You may be revered. Psalm 130:3-4 (NASB)
God loves you and is reaching out for you wherever you are, whatever your situation. He is magnificently greater than any problem we are facing.
Thank you, Lord, that though my sins be as scarlet, You have cleansed and purified me by the blood of Christ. I humbly turn to You in gratitude for the countless blessings You have bestowed upon me. Help me to follow You in love. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
17 “And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will no longer remember.” Hebrews 10:17 (NASB)