An Unlikely Servant
Lord, who is like You, fashioning the future according to Your will?
Read Isaiah 45:1–8
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut:
2 I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
3 I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
4 For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me.
5 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,
6 so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.
8 “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“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” (Isa. 45:5).
As we watch the television news and look around the world, we notice some questionable characters in positions of power who can be vicious, pathetic or simply doggedly against Christ and his church. This has been the case throughout history—and yet the Christian church, which survived and grew in early times, continues to thrive today. How can that be explained? This passage provides an answer!
Cyrus, to whom we were introduced by name in the last chapter, now assumes center stage. Though he is a pagan who does not acknowledge the God of Israel (4), and though, as the history books tell us, he was a man of selfish ambition and fierce brutality when it came to his military conquests,
here he is pictured as working hand in hand with that same God of Israel (1). God even sets forth Cyrus as his anointed. All his victories were
actually given him (1–3) by the God whose sovereignty is universal, as we saw in the last section: the God who chooses to use men like Cyrus to achieve his purpose for his people (4), strengthening them though they do not acknowledge him (5). That is because he is the Lord and there is none
other (5,6), the One who presides over all human affairs, (7) and the One who causes righteousness and salvation to spring up in the earth (8).
This prophecy about Cyrus was written more than a century before his birth, but it was fulfilled in glorious detail (cf. Ezra 1:1–4). God still uses pagan powers to fulfill his purposes, because he does not change. That should encourage me to pray as I survey the worldwide church today!
“Cyrus is to be looked upon as a type of messiah. He is God’s agent, raised up to deliver God’s people and lead them into times of peace and security” (Derek Thomas).
Truly, Lord, there is no God beside You because no other god can create something out of nothing.
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