1:1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of PersiaEzra's filled with the Lord's actions upon people. He stirs up a spirit here, he protects a people here, he awakens a person there, it's just all really cool. And all of this is in accordance to His sovereign plan. Who is a God like this who says something and then does it? All the other acts claimed for other gods are mere shadows of this God. Mute and deaf idols.
Here, it is pointed out that the acts of a pagan king turning and commanding the building of the temple was not some mere accident, but an intentional act by the decree of God. I'm not entirely sure what the reference to Jeremiah exactly is, but there are some possibilities - Jeremiah 27:16-22 is one, where God says that the vessels will not be brought back to Jerusalem until the Lord brings it back. Or Jeremiah 29:10-14 which is the whole "I know the plans I have for you." I wonder how many of us actually knew the context of that promise! I certainly didn't.
Whatever the case, we know that God uses this period of time as a fulfillment of His former promises to a nation that was under God's judgment in exile. There are no accidents here, no lucky breaks. The exile as well as the restoration done by God's right hand.
One thing that comes to mind as I think about this. Is it too much to expect and hope for the same things today? In the past, the punishment and the exiles only came for a period of time, until once again the Lord poured out His blessing upon His people. I wonder if today we have too much of a bunker mentality, thinking that righteousness will come in heaven, but we shouldn't expect too much on earth. Can we not hope and/or expect that like the days of past, God will once again move in the nations and awaken His people, transforming even the pagan kings to fear and obey Him?