In Chapter 45, Isaiah continues with his prophecy on Cyrus and how God will use him to accomplish his purposes.
Father, thank You for your amazing word, for declaring the end from the beginning, for making your plans known to us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;
In the Old Testament, kings in Israel were anointed with oil when they were tapped for service. The oil represented the Holy Spirit and spoke of the anointing of God. God says his anointing will rest on this Gentile king as well.
Isaiah wrote these words circa 700 BC. In accordance with Isaiah’s prophecy, Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. It was Cyrus’ general, Gobryas, who led the attack. (Sir Robert Anderson believed General Gobryas and Darius the Mede were one in the same person—one person who used two different names.) In any case, General Gobryas knew he could not bring down the 300-foot-tall 25-foot-thick walls of Babylon. (Not to mention the second wall, which was Seventy-five feet behind the first wall.) So instead of a direct attack, Gobryas diverted the Euphrates river that ran through the center of the city. Once the river was diverted, his troops walked right under the city walls on the dry riverbed. Ordinarily, the leaved gates (double doors) of the palace would have been shut, but Belshazzar ordered them to be left open. The Euphrates river was flanked with walls on both sides that ran the length of the city. There were 25 gates to access ferry boats, as well as one bridge, 1/2 mile long and 30’ wide. These gates would have also ordinarily been shut at night, but Belshazzar ordered them to be left open as well. If the gates to the river had been left shut, Gobryas’ troops would have been trapped and easily defeated. However, Belshazzar was so full of hubris that he called for a time of feasting and festivities while the armies of the Medes and Persians amassed outside the city. With all the gates left open, the enemy simply entered the city and marched straight into the palace. By the time this happened, Belshazzar had already seen the writing on the wall. In Daniel 5, the Bible says his loins were loosed and he was so terrified that his knees smote together.
Cyrus well understood his position as God’s anointed leader. Ezra 1:2 records the opening statement of his proclamation: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
2 I will go before thee [see above], and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
Indeed, Cyrus was named over 150 years before this all took place.
4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
5 I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
Did you know that many in Israel consider President Trump to be a second Cyrus? An Israeli friend of mine told me that he does not think it is a coincidence that more is said about Cyrus in Isaiah 45 than anywhere else in the Bible and Trump is the 45th president. That sounds like a bit of a stretch to me, but the point I would like to make is that God can use unlikely candidates who do not seem to even know Him to perform his will. I find it curious that Israel’s current political situation is similar to ours. PM Netanyahu brought unprecedented prosperity to modern Israel, yet there are those in Israel who have the same animosity towards Netanyahu that many have towards Trump here in the US. Netanyahu is plagued by phony scandals and forced to fight off cooked-up allegations the same way Trump is. Both these leaders are standing against the new world order and they both need our prayers.
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
I believe that Isaiah included verse 7 specially for Cyrus. In Persia, they followed the teachings of Zoroaster. Zoroaster was born sometime in the second millennium, BC. He taught there was a ‘light god’ named Mazda and a ‘darkness god’ named Ahriman, the god of evil. I believe Cyrus read these words from Isaiah and realized his beliefs were close to the truth but not close enough. There is only one God; He created light, darkness, and evil. As the leader of the world’s new superpower, Cyrus would bear witness of this fact. (v 6; cf Ezra 1)
Sometimes evil just means ‘bad’ or ‘unfavorable’. In Jeremiah 24, Jeremiah saw evil figs. The figs were rotten, therefore they were ‘evil’. Not sinister, just ‘bad’. Other times evil is used literally. God created everything. Satan did not ‘create’ anything. God created Lucifer and gave him free will. Therefore, God created evil. God allows the evil circumstances that exist on planet earth even though it is in his power to stop them because God is not an enabler. He makes us lie in our bed the way we made it. The day is coming, however, when He will take possession of what He has purchased. He will rule the earth with a rod of iron. (Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27) No evil will be tolerated in that day.
8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it.
God not only creates peace and evil (calamity), He also brings salvation and creates righteousness. Jesus is in the process of making all things new.
9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker [Heb yatsar]! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
11 Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker [Jesus], Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
God is not saying somebody made Him. He is saying the one who made all things, the second Person in the Godhead, is in agreement with Him.
In Joshua Chapter 10, Joshua commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, thus Joshua’s long day. Maybe the statement in verse 11b was intended for Cyrus, but it looks like God is daring us to command nature the way Joshua did. If we truly have a need and if we are walking in accordance with God’s will, we can ask God concerning things to come, and command changes concerning the natural laws that God has created. (Matt 17:20)
12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
Notice it says God commands the heavens. That is how He was able to honor Joshua’s orders to the sun and the moon. Until fairly recently, the prevailing view in the science community was that there was no beginning and no end to the universe. However, after Edwin Hubble published his findings concerning the redshift in 1929, it was accepted that the universe is expanding. The Bible was right all along when it said that God stretched out the heavens.
13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.
14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.
15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.
16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.
17 But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.
21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
God continues to drive home the point that the best proof we have that we can trust his word is prophecy. This must be important or He would not continue repeating it. (2 Pet 1:19) The reason God can write history down before it happens is because He is outside our time domain. Chuck Missler, rest his soul, used to use the analogy of a parade. As the parade winds through the streets of your town, you watch one float go by after the other; you watch the marching band go by; then the beauty pageant queen waves at you as she goes by; then the mayor goes by in a convertible limousine. It took an hour for you to see everyone as they passed you by. However, the pilot up above in the Chanel 10 News helicopter could see the entire parade all at once because of his vantage point. Chuck would then go on to say that through science we now know that time is a physical property. Time varies with mass and acceleration. God is not constrained by physical properties such as mass, acceleration, and time. Therefore, God can see what we call the future and have his servants write down what will happen before that part of the parade passes us by.
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:22 was Spurgeon’s conversion verse. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, known as the ‘prince of preachers’, was a brilliant expositor who lived in England in the 1800s. He went into a little church on a snowy day because the snow prevented him from going to the church he usually went to. The snowstorm prevented the preacher from making it to church too, so somebody went to the pulpit and read Isaiah 45:22. He looked at Spurgeon and said young man, you look miserable! Look to Jesus and be saved! Spurgeon said that was the experience that led him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. God’s word always accomplishes exactly what God intended it to. (Isa 55:11)
23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
We are all going to bow and swear eventually. It’s as certain as death and taxes. The only question is will you do it now and reign with Him in glory? If you wait too long, you will still have to bow and swear, but you will know that you blew it. You will see Him in all his glory and know that you could have been there with Him. Then you will be banished to the lake of fire.
24 Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
Father, thank You for giving us a more sure word of prophecy, an everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure. Give us the grace to trust your word in all things, That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
PS: Last week I touched on the doctrine of the rapture and its connection with the Feast of Trumpets. It is believed by some that the rapture will take place on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23 outlines the feast days of Israel. In Leviticus 25, the Bible tells us a special day happens once every fifty years. In the fiftieth ‘Jubilee Year’, a trumpet is blown on the Day of Atonement. (Lev 25:9) Over the years the records were lost so today nobody knows when the Jubilee Year will fall. Some speculated that 2017 was the Jubilee Year because of major events that transpired beforehand in increments of fifty years: 1967 – Six Day War, Jews regain Jerusalem/ 1917 – Balfour Declaration, British government’s promise to the Jews of a homeland. Again, this was speculation. In ancient Israel they kept the Jubilee Year but today only God knows when the fiftieth year will fall. This year, Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tuesday and ends at sundown on Wednesday.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.