Title: Judges 12. Jephthah, part 9: War with Ephraim - acceptance of God's righteous way brings peace.
As we witnessed last time:
We do not only trust God for the circumstances of our life, but for how we turn out or mature personally. Since it is God who causes the growth, God who reveals truth in His timing, God who gives a spiritual gift, God who determined the time of your birth and so determined your parents, family, genetics, location, etc, God who prepared beforehand the works that we each were to walk in, God who out of the variety of gifts, variety of ministries, and variety of effects chose yours, God has determined you. He is molding you as the master potter. All of these things deeply effect our personalities and so it is God who is determining your personality, and not you. You likely used to dream about who you wanted to be. God had a different plan.
1PE 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Judgment of the household of God = trials that come from those who have concluded that the house of God is opposition.
1PE 4:18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
1PE 4:19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
God allows these many undeserved sufferings in a believer’s life. Each one molds us into the creature that God wills. Let Him.
The example of God using Cyrus II (the Great)
Cyrus II himself has left a text (the Cyrus Cylinder) affirming his genealogy: "I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, legitimate king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four rims (of the earth), son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, grandson of Cyrus, great king, king of Anshan, of a family (which) always (exercised) kingship"
By his conquest of the Median empire (550 B.C.) Cyrus had in the first place welded Medes and Persians into a unified nation, known as the Medes and Persians.
Because Cyrus remained respectful of Median culture, made Median Ecbatana one of his royal residences, and often appointed Medes to high positions in his provincial government, his kingdom became known as that of the "Medes and Persians."
ISA 13:17 Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them [Babylon], Who will not value silver or take pleasure in gold,
But secondly, his conquest over Media had given him rule over its former provinces of Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia, and Cappadocia.
Conquest of Babylon:
This is significant because the Jews are in Babylon in the captivity.
The whole outcome of the city's conquest was officially explained to its citizens as the doing of its city-god Marduk: "[Marduk] scanned and looked (through) all the countries, searching for a righteous ruler willing to lead him (in the annual procession). (Then) he pronounced the name of Cyrus, king of Anshan, declared him to be(come) the ruler of all the world ... Marduk, the great lord, a protector of his people/worshipers, beheld with pleasure his (i.e. Cyrus') good deeds and his upright mind (and therefore) ordered him to march against his city Babylon.
He [Marduk] made him set out on the road to Babylon going at his side like a real friend ... Without any battle, he made him enter his town Babylon, sparing Babylon any calamity" (Cyrus Cylinder; ANET, p. 315).
Cyrus unwittingly gives all the credit for his victory to Marduk.
The repatriation of the Jews, reversing the deportation policies of the Assyrians and Babylonians, was in accordance with Cyrus' general policy. According to the book of Ezra, Cyrus' permission for the Jews' return was given in his "first year."
Ezra 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying,
First full year of Cyrus’ reign in Babylon: 538 BC. The first deportation, which included Daniel was in 609-608 BC, and so we calculate the seventy years of captivity prophesied by Jeremiah.
Ezra 1:2 "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Ezra 1:3 'Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.
Ezra 1:4 'And every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.'"
It was Cyrus’ policy to accept all the gods of the people he conquered. He accepted the gods of Babylon and when he discovered that the Jews had a god named Jehovah or Yavah, he accepted Yavah as the god of the Jews. He did not believe that Jehovah was the one true God or else he would not have acknowledged the many other gods as well as his own god Ahura-Mazda.
ISA 44:24 Thus says the Lord, 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 all alone,
ISA 44:25 Causing the omens of boasters to fail,
Making fools out of diviners,
Causing wise men to draw back,
And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
ISA 44:26 Confirming the word of His servant,
And performing 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 up her ruins again.
ISA 44:27 "It is I who says to the depth of the sea, 'Be dried up!'
And I will make your rivers dry.
ISA 44:28 "It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My shepherd!
And he will perform all My desire.'
And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built,'
And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid.'"
Isaiah writes about 200 years before Cyrus conquers Babylon.
ISA 45:1Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him,
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
ISA 45:2 "I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars.
ISA 45:3 "And I will give you the treasures of darkness,
And hidden wealth of secret places,
In order that you may know that it is I,
The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
ISA 45:4 "For the sake of Jacob My servant,
And Israel My chosen one,
I have also called you by your name;
I have given you a title of honor
Though you have not known Me.
ISA 45:6 "I am the Lord, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me;
ISA 45:6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun
That there is no one besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other,
ISA 45:8 The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the Lord who does all these.
ISA 45:8 "Drip down, O heavens, from above,
And let the clouds pour down righteousness;
Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit,
And righteousness spring up with it.
I, the Lord, have created it.
ISA 45:9 "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker —
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?'
Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands'?
ISA 45:10 "Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?'
Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?'"
To quarrel with God is to doubt His ways.
As the Great Potter molds, the creature complains that it is the wrong shape and in contention with God demands an explanation - “What are you doing?”
The other way of the one who quarrels with God is scorn -
“He has not hands.” In other words, they believe that God is unable to form the vessel well.
It is practically impossible to be a good potter if he has no hands. So we complain that God is molding us incorrectly or that He is unable to mold us at all.
"Father, what are you begetting?" - Why do You use a pagan prince to deliver Your people?
In this case, Israel is being warned not to complain about the captivity. It is the right way and the only way. They are not to complain that they are being restored from their captivity by a pagan prince and not a Jewish valiant warrior. Thus the quarrelers with God say to their Father, “What are you begetting?” God does things that only way that they can and should be done.
ISA 45:11 Thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker:
"Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons,
And you shall commit to Me the work of My hands.
The meaning is: If you desire any information or satisfaction concerning the future or the things to come, about which you can neither know nor determine anything of yourselves, inquire of me.
Rather than complain, ask Me! The implication is that He will reveal it. And then, when you understand, you will commit to Me the work of My hands, i.e. put your life in My hands.
A final word about Cyrus.
Cyrus was untouchable in battle as he conquered Greece to India and Iran to Egypt. However, he left Babylon and returned to his own capital at Ecbatana. There he had to deal with nomads on his northern frontier. At first he was successful but soon he was defeated and killed. As God’s messenger he conquered the world, but after the Jews were sent home and God’s purpose for Cyrus was complete, the pagan man was defeated in battle and killed by nomads.
God makes us what we are if we are following Him. God makes the local church what it is if His word is magnified. For the sake of our study we will not consider what God makes of the saint or the church that refuses to follow His will.