The fulfillment of Jeremiah’s words was totally God’s doing (Jeremiah 29:10). Seventy years of Jewish captivity in Babylon were about to end. The deporation happened in stages beginning in 605 B.C. The decree of Cyrus in 538 B.C. was 67 years later. By the time the people returned and built the altar in 536 B.C., 70 years were almost up.
This remarkable return, declared and orchestrated by God, was carried out by a ruler who did not worship the God of Israel. He was not a believer in Yahweh. His concern was to establish strong buffer states around his empire which would be loyal to him.
We see in this a perfect example of how even non-believing leaders can be used for God’s purpose. Of course we would be remiss in not recognizing many similar decrees regarding the Jews and Israel made by our own U.S. President. He has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, proclaimed Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, cancelled the Iran nuclear deal, among many other things. Many in Israel call him the modern day “Cyrus.”
Christians must also recognize that there is no such thing as a “Palestinian” or “Palestine.” Those words should not be in our vocabulary. All of the land belongs to Israel. And one day it will all be theirs when Jesus Christ returns.
When the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid (3:11), many of the old men who had seen the first temple, “wept with a loud voice.” Most likely this was weeping from sorrow and discouragment as they remembered the grandeur of the Solomonic temple in contrast to this new one. Nevertheless, the sounds of weeping and joy were mingled together and were so loud that they were heard from far away.