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Isaiah 45:5–8 ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me.’ (vv5–6)

Isaiah prophesies about a blessed king who doesn’t know Yahweh, the God of Israel, some 150 years before his rule. He speaks of Cyrus who reigned over the Babylonian empire from 539 to 530 BC. He gave the Jewish captives permission to return to Jerusalem. Without acknowledgement from Cyrus, God blesses him even though he never realised the significant role he was playing in God’s plan. 

God’s blessing is boundless and touches the lives of all those who live a godly life, regardless of their knowledge of God. The scale of God’s blessing must always be borne in mind because we are far less generous than God. We want people to conform to models of understanding we’ve agreed and established, but God will not be constrained by our limited understanding. Jesus stood in an empty town square and, rather than fulfilling the letter of the Law, He told a woman caught in the act of adultery to ‘go and sin no more’ (John 8:11). 

God’s heart seeks the salvation of all, not to prove a point at someone’s expense. We have much we can learn both in the level of gratitude we are to express to God in our worship and in our willingness to open our total selves to collaborating expectantly with the Holy Spirit. It’s good to learn to look for where we can encourage and bless rather than criticise and shame. Such encouragement creates a context within which God’s life and love can flow most naturally.

SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Ezra 4:1–4; Prov. 16:7–20; Luke 6:37–42; 1 Tim. 6:11–21.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: It might sound strange to learn that God blesses where and through whom He chooses. As a Christian, do you naturally seek to bless or to correct?

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, enable me to look and see Your hand at work rather than impose my understanding on others, especially those with whom I disagree. Amen.’

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.