Ezra 1:1-4

One day my father surprised me with a trip to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The two ticket stubs I kept from that lovely experience remind me of the music’s power to stir our souls that day. 

God uses a variety of ways to stir our spirits and compel us to be part of the music that God is writing for the world. When I read that the LORD stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus and hear what happens next (v. 1), these first four verses in Ezra sound like a symphony to me. 

Rich with movement and meaning, this passage invites us into a soul-stirring story of hope. In the first movement, we listen to a calling and a commission. In his inaugural year as ruler of Persia, the Lord calls and commissions King Cyrus to build a house for God. 

Next, the king sends God’s people to rebuild the temple and offers a blessing: may their God be with them! (v. 3). Then he invites and instructs them to gather material gifts and offer them in worship. Ezra’s symphony swells with a hope and a promise that gives God’s people a new purpose.

This is a beautiful image of how God orchestrates kingdom work. A faithful leader heeds God’s direction, relieves the oppressed of heavy burdens, blesses them with a purpose, and leads them to worship. 

The spirit of the Lord that stirs King Cyrus to act also lives and moves within us. God calls us to be faithful leaders who heed God’s words, bring freedom and peace to the world around us, and act with love. 

When has God stirred up the spirit in you—and what happens when God does? 


What is your part in the symphony God is writing for the world?


Gracious God, use me in your symphony of hope. Stir my soul to play my part with love. Amen.

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