As punishment for the Southern Kingdom’s (Judah – the people of God) sins, they were exiled to Babylon (as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah) and would be there for 70 years (see Jeremiah 29:10). During their time in Babylon, they were under the rule of king Nebuchadnezzar and king Belshazzar until Darius and Cyrus the Great took siege of the kingdom. Cyrus’ reign overlapped with the prophecy of the 70 year timeline that Judah (God’s chosen people) would be able to return to their homeland. AMAZINGLY, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah (see Isaiah 44 and 45) 200 years before the birth of Cyrus and called him BY NAME and said that he would be the one to send them back to their homeland and rebuild the temple. According to biblical and secular sources, that’s exactly what happened! It’s amazing to dig through the intricacies of the Word of God and encounter things that would be humanly IMPOSSIBLE but speak to the foreknowledge, sovereignty, and majesty of the God whom we serve! He is worthy to be praised!
“…who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’” (Isaiah 44:28)
“Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” (Isaiah 45:1-7)
In the days of old where Internet, television, recording devices, and the like were not commonplace, the words that one spoke were held to a higher standard. Your word was literally your bond. If one did not keep their word it would be seen as a capital offense and they could be stoned to death! Despite how we now perceive that “talk is cheap” and “words don’t mean anything,” God still holds the words that you let proceed out of your mouth to a very high standard. In the below Scriptures you can see how important our spoken word is and how the tongue can defile a person. Let’s venture to guard our lips and bridle our tongues, they truly hold power that can lead to death or life (see Proverbs 18:21)/justification or condemnation.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37)
“Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? (James 3:4-11)
“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” (Titus 2:6)
This Scripture is extremely important for the young men of this age. The Apostle Paul instructed Titus to URGE the younger men to be self-controlled (sōphroneō – to curb one’s passions). This makes sense as a lack of self-control can be tied back to almost all sins young men fall to. In a time where hedonistic, “right here, right now” mindsets permeate the globe, young men are URGED to be self-controlled. While the enemy dangles “pieces of meat” in front of our faces all day every day, we are to be self-controlled. While all it takes is a few clicks and every vile desire imaginable is at our disposal, we are to be self controlled. While drugs and drunkenness SEEM to pacify all of life’s pains, we are to be self-controlled! If you are a young man and you desire to live for God, join me in prayer as I ask the God of all creation to pour out an increased measure of self-control on us. We are in dire need. Amen!