On January 1, 1863, African American slaves waited with bated breath to hear if Abraham Lincoln would sign the Emancipation Proclamation to set them free. After praying all night, joy filled their hearts when they heard that Lincoln did sign the document. The ex-slaves’ joy was similar to that of ancient Israel when King Cyrus issued the decree that exiled Israelites could go home. Ezra recorded the decree in Ezra Chapter 1, “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go to Jerusalem in Judah to rebuild this Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives in Jerusalem. And may your God be with you!’” That decree gave them permission to return home. But it caused resentment by local people in Judah who viewed them as a threat to their own security. Sadly, a few Americans viewed freedom for African Americans as a threat to their security. Yet most people still ask as Rodney King once asked, “Can’t we all just get along?”
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