The year was 539BC and Cyrus the great had conquered and taken over the Babylonian empire. One of the proclamations he soon gave was to give the Jews, who were captives there, the freedom to return to Jerusalem.
Ezra 1:1-4 – Now 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 Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. Who is among you of all His people? May his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem. And whoever is left in any place where he dwells, let the men of his place help him with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, besides the freewill offerings for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.
A few Jews grabbed their chance of freedom and left for Jerusalem (Ezra 1:5-11, Ezra 2:1-70). History tells us that most of the Jews, however, did not use the opportunity to leave Babylon and instead stayed there for centuries more. Instead of embracing their freedom, they stayed with the captivity that they had become used to.
Instead of looking to their freedom, they focused on their bondage!
Psalm 137:1-4 – By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the Lord’s song In a foreign land?
Years later in 445BC, another Jewish man Nehemiah was still living in Babylon but God stirred his heart…
Nehemiah 1:1-4 – The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. It came to pass in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushanthe citadel, that Hanani one of my brethren came with men from Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who had survived the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.” So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.
News comes to Nehemiah of the state of Jerusalem and of God’s people there. Nehemiah had a comfortable job and life, but his heart was stirred up for freedom and the success of God’s people. (You can continue in the book of Nehemiah to read of his deeds.)
Now let us look at Jesus, who 2000 years ago came and performed the ultimate act of deliverance for the entire human race!
Jesus took our sins, sicknesses, curses and weaknesses on Himself on the cross, forever setting mankind free. Have you made use of your freedom? Have you thrown off the shackles of sin, sickness, failure and fear?
Ephesians 4:7-8 – But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”
Colossians 2:13-15 – And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
The way you see yourself is the way you will live your life. If you realise your freedom in Christ, you will live with that mindset and be an overcomer. If you think like a captive, you will live like a defeated slave, even though the truth is that you are free!
Romans 12:2- And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
As we change the way we think to match God’s truth (have faith), we will shake off the habits of captivity and step into the area of freedom.
Freedom fact 1: God loves you unconditionally and through Jesus you are a member of His family with all the rights of a son/daughter, the same as Jesus has.
John 3:16-17, 1 John 3:1, 1 John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:16-17
Freedom fact 2: All your sins past, present and future have been taken from you by Jesus. You are declared innocent and righteous by God in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 3:5, John 1:29, Romans 3:22, Romans 5:1
Freedom fact 3: Any sickness, illness, disease or disability was taken by Jesus when He went to the cross. You were healed by Jesus 2000 years ago and so have a right to health and healing.
1 Peter 2:24, Matthew 8:16-17, Mark 10:52, Luke 10:9, Mark 16:17-18
Freedom fact 4: Jesus bore every curse for us, so that we don’t have to. This includes the curse of poverty or lack. We now walk in all the blessings of God through Jesus.
Galatians 3:13-14, Ephesians 1:3
Freedom fact 5: We do not need to fear anything in this world because with Jesus we are overcomers.
1 John 4:18, 2 Timothy 1:7, John 16:33, Philippians 4:6-7, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:26