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Cyrus -- God's Instrument

 Isaiah 45

 

Have you ever have anyone who comes to your defense that takes you by surprise? Maybe even someone who seemed to be your enemy? Maybe it goes beyond yourself when you look at the forces which appear to be in control n the world today.

 

Over 150 years before King Cyrus of Persia was even born, Isaiah prophesies that Cyrus will be used of God to deliver Israel from their captivity. We have had a glimpse of this deliverance earlier in Isaiah, but hear in Isaiah 44:28-45:25, we see it clearly. There would be not be any misunderstanding when Cyrus appeared on the scene conquering Babylon and issuing the decree for Israel to return to their land. This prophecy fulfilled would also prove the accuracy of God’s plans and purposes for not only his people, but the promise of the coming Messiah, Jesus.

 

Read Isaiah 44:28-45:6  I am the LORD ...

God’s Introduction of Cyrus

What does the LORD say about Cyrus? How God introduces people is important. He chooses descriptions that are meaningful to his audience,

just as we do when we introduce someone.

Back in chapter 41 we heard that God would “stir up” a king from the north and east to conquer Babylon. Now we see this pagan king introduced as:

1. God’s shepherd – This identification often applied to rulers in these times. We need to remember that God is the one who is sovereign ruler over all the nations and their kings. Daniel 2:21 says, God…”sets up kings and deposes them.”

2. God’s anointed – this term is used for prophet, priests and kings that are chosen by God to do His will.

3 God’s conquering King – Verses 1-3 indicates that God will hold his right hand and go before Cyrus to subdue the nations, strip their kings open doors and gates to the cities to be conquered and give Cyrus wealth that no one man has ever held in his own power before. He will be God’s tool to set the stage for Israel’s freedom.

4. God’s man to accomplish God’s purposes– Look at what God says in verse 44:28.

“'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please.’

What God pleases to accomplish is identified in the rest of verses 28 and 45:13He will rebuild Jerusalem, lay the foundations of the temple and set the exiles free.

 

God’s Intention: Do we always see it?

 For men to know that “I am the LORD and there is no other.” (verse 5). This is a general theme throughout the book of Isaiah. This is a key truth for people to understand in order to put their trust in the everlasting Rock, Jesus Christ.

For Israel’s sake, (vs 4) God raised Cyrus up and gave him victory even though Cyrus never acknowledged His name.  He would strengthen Cyrus and hold his right hand for Israel’s sake. Look back at Isaiah 41: 13-14

“For I am the LORD, your God,  who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”

God’s promise to uphold Israel and help them would be accomplished through a pagan king, seemingly, another conquering enemy. It would be so that they would know that there was no other God but Him.

God would deliver Israel.

For all mankind to know there is none besides the LORD.(verse 6)

“to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me.  I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

God has salvation on his mind for his people and all of mankind. Look at verses 8

"You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down.
  Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it;
  I, the LORD, have created it.”  What a beautiful picture of God’s desire for the whole earth to know Him as Lord. This is the true circle of life! God sends Jesus to us, his righteousness. The Lord brings the fruit of salvation and bears the fruit of righteousness through his people.

Verse 7 is significant not only for Israel, but for the nations.

“I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.”  He is creator of light and darkness. He is control of good and evil.

The Israelites had been influenced by the culture they were living in, just as we can be today. The people worship light and darkness as gods – even gave them names! The god of light was Mazda. The god of evil or darkness was Ahriman. But God declares He is God over all light and darkness, prosperity and disaster! Babylon, Assyria or Persia have not subdued Israel by the might of their gods. Their dead and dumb idols were nothing compared to the one true and living God. Worship Him!

God would influence world history to bring about the deliverance of His people and salvation to the world.

 

God’s Integrity: Can we trust His Word to come true?

 After introducing Cyrus and His purpose to use him as an instrument to accomplish His purposes, God turns to the people and says ‘ “Woe to the him who quarrels with his Maker..” (verse 9).

 

1. Who are you the potter or the clay? The parent or the child?

Have you ever found yourself in a place where you argue with God about how he accomplishes things, especially when you don’t see his hand or his hand seems to be contradictory to the character of God? God’s hand reveals his power. But do we always see it or agree with His ways?

Read verses 9-13

In Isaiah 29 we see God use this analogy of potter and the clay in reference to people hiding their plans from the one who created them. In Jeremiah 18, probably the most familiar passage in reference to this analogy, we see God showing teaching them God’s sovereignty over them as His people. Yet here we see God saying to His people, remember I can sovereignly use anyone to accomplish my will, not only the righteous.

Verse 13  - “I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight.
 He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free,  but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty."

Anyone who argued with God was like the clay commanding the potter or a child ordering their parents.. Cyrus was raised up to do God’s specific will and nothing would prevent him from succeeding! God would be true to His Word.

Do we question the potter’s hand or His rule in our lives? Argue with God? Have you ever done it? The Psalmist shows us that it is good to pour our hearts out before God with our questions – even about what he is doing it and how he is doing it. But we must pour our hearts out to the living God who will lead us to the truth of his sovereignty, of his grace, of his greater plans and ways. When we look at the things happening to us personally, to those around us, in the world today, how do we react? With cynicism, disgust, discouragement, sorrow? Or do we cling to the living God who is in control of all and can use all for his glory? Placing our trust and hope in the one who does what He says He will do? He promises to work all things for our good  and God’s glory for those who love him and are called according to his purpose? And his purpose is found in the next verse in Romans 8:29. He wants to conform us into his image – make us like him! There are times when God can use our enemies to bring us into line – conforming us into his image so he can use us for his glory. Think of the times when God has placed you in the midst of a hard circumstance, when it seems like your enemy is gaining the victory, only to walk out on the other side of that situation and see what God had planned! Maybe god is even putting things in order for someone’s salvation!!

2. Ask for spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Perhaps we could take a different approach as we trust the living God. Instead of questioning his wisdom and is goodness, we could go to him with humility, and ask Him to fill you with all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9). It is in him we find our salvation!

 

3. God’s Word is righteous and will not be revoked.  45:22-24

In verse 22, He calls us to himself, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth;” there is no other God besides Him.

 

In verse 24  - We see that it is in him we find  “righteousness and strength.”

God’s word is true and dependable, but he chooses to make it doubly dependable when he swears with an oath to its righteousness or integrity. God has sworn by himself – there is no greater – that his word is righteous (full of integrity) and will not be revoked. What he says he is able to do and promises to do. Remember His intent is to bring about deliverance and salvation so all will one day bow the knee.

There will be a day that every knee shall bow before God as LORD – He will reign forever!

 

God used Cyrus a pagan king to accomplish his purposes for his people.

What instruments is God using in your life and in the world today? May we ask God to give us spiritual wisdom and understanding as he conform us into his image.