Cyrus, God’s Instrument
45 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
that gates may not be closed:
“I will go before you
and level the exalted places,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness
and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the LORD,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.
“Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
Thus says the LORD,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
I made the earth
and created man on it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host.
I have stirred him up in righteousness,
and I will make all his ways level;
he shall build my city
and set my exiles free,
not for price or reward,”
says the LORD of hosts.
The Lord, the Only Savior
Thus says the LORD:
“The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush,
and the Sabeans, men of stature,
shall come over to you and be yours;
they shall follow you;
they shall come over in chains and bow down to you.
They will plead with you, saying:
‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other,
no god besides him.’”
Truly, you are a God who hides himself,
O God of Israel, the Savior.
All of them are put to shame and confounded;
the makers of idols go in confusion together.
But Israel is saved by the LORD
with everlasting salvation;
you shall not be put to shame or confounded
to all eternity.
For thus says the LORD,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it empty,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek me in vain.’
I the LORD speak the truth;
I declare what is right.
“Assemble yourselves and come;
draw near together,
you survivors of the nations!
They have no knowledge
who carry about their wooden idols,
and keep on praying to a god
that cannot save.
Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the LORD?
And there is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Savior;
there is none besides me.
“Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
‘To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
“Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength;
to him shall come and be ashamed
all who were incensed against him.
In the LORD all the offspring of Israel
shall be justified and shall glory.”
Isaiah 45 Commentary
by Hank Workman
200 hundred years before the man was born, before the prophecy given – the Lord spoke to the prophet Isaiah concerning him. A pagan king, called by name, would rise up and breakthrough the strong fortress of Babylon.
October 539 BC, Cyrus had saved one of the greatest conquests – Babylon. As night fell that cool evening and the gentle autumn breeze blew, a ruckus party took place within the palace. Cyrus stood outside the gates. He had brought the Medes and Persians alongside, literally drained the swamp that surrounded and diverted the flow of the Euphrates. Lowering the level of the water, the troops marched through the moat per se, and under the river gates.
They would have one issue though – entry; Entry to a city that was tightly shut up at dusk with doors of bronze and iron bars. As with all ancient cities, they were surrounded by thick walls and secured by strong gates, usually made of heavy brass. Ancient Babylon had over 100 gates of entry alone to their great city. 25 were on each side whose frames were made of strong metal. These were then secured with thick plates of iron. This unfathomable situation and impenetrable fortress would block entry if there was not an intervention.
Now it would just so happen that King Nebuchadnezzar had seen the fate of things to come with Cyrus advancing and had fled the palace and city. Leaving things in the hands of his son Belshazzar, this son would be foolish. He was the one who hosted the party inside that had degenerated into drunkenness and debauchery, drinking from the vessels taken from Jerusalem’s temple during the raid decades before.
Party in full swing, it came to a screaming halt. No, it wasn’t Cyrus… yet… it was a hand that appeared and began writing on the wall of the room. In a language unknown, Daniel was sent to interpret. Unlike his father Nebuchadnezzar, who had humbled himself before the Lord, Belshazzar was proud. Belshazzar had been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Belshazzar’s life would be taken. The kingdom would fall.
Pride had affected Belshazzar since the baton had been passed. He became sloppy. He was reckless. This man who thought he was unstoppable with one of the greatest kingdoms, had neglected oversight of his own military guards, who remarkably, left the bronze gates and iron bars unlocked that very night.
Cyrus literally walked through the gates of the city, which had been inexplicably unlocked, killed Belshazzar and became king. It was the most bloodless capture of a city ever.
The very night Cyrus conquered Babylon he took all the staggering riches and treasures of secret places. He would know however that this was not just by chance but by the hand of God, who knew him by name. In fact, in Ezra, Cyrus uttered a proclamation:
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 Every survivor, at whatever place he may [a]live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.’”Ezra 1:2-4
Cyrus would send with his blessing and yes riches, the first wave of Israelite’s back from captivity to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He would show kindness to the Jewish nation and this was the entire purpose of God raising him up. It was for His servant Jacob’s fate.
Although the storyline is beyond fascinating these verses have meant something far beyond. They do speak toward the aspect that is amazing which does resonate: God will make the rough places smooth. He will shatter doors that have been shut to us. He will bring treasures in the darkest of places … and He knows us by name. Jesus knows me by name!
We all have had our own journey. We have been in the high and the lows of things. We could testify to this. Many of us are survivors. Survivors of some of the most horrific things in life. Some of the most unexpected turns where we wondered where God was and what He was doing. But as a survivor, we’ve also come out on the other end. We’ve been able to look back and see His absolute providence and grace.
Maybe for some of you, you are there right now. I get it. Believe me, I get it. You are in the struggle of your life. A situation is suffocating. There feels like there’s no way out. The darkness is consuming. But what if I told you there were treasures to be found in that darkness? What if I said there was a wealth to be discovered in the secret places?
Dig. Dig deep and find those treasures. Find the wealth of which is waiting to be found. For it is the absolute treasure of Jesus who is there in the darkest of the dark. It is Jesus who has the wealth of His salvation to bring that quiet undeniable and unfathomable peace. It is Jesus who offers astounding grace and mercy and He calls you by name.
Isaiah 45 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Exodus 33:20 NASB But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”
He is the unseen God, and for good reason. If we would look at Him, we would surely die! This, according to Spurgeon, is an act of mercy upon us.
“This is a most merciful arrangement, for, if God did not hide himself, none of us could exist. The full blaze of his divine countenance would be our destruction.”Charles Spurgeon
Though He hides Himself, He is near to us. His Salvation is available and His presence is thick. Because He is Lord over all, the words He says will come true. Sometimes we forget this.
“I have not spoken in secret, In some dark land; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in a waste place’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, Declaring things that are upright.Isaiah 45:19 NASB
The Lord shoots straight with us. Everything He revealed to Isaiah is true for us today. There isn’t anything that will come in our future that was not consistent to the faithful men and women of the past. He does not speak in secret; He speaks openly and with clarity.
Now, think about these two concepts and put them together. He hides Himself from us, but He speaks openly and plainly (not in secret). Do they seem to contradict one another?
I believe from my own relationship with the Lord that there are many times He hides Himself. He works in mysterious ways, and I can say from experience I’m thankful for that. There are times when I am drawn near to Him because of His hiding. There are times when I seek His Word more diligently when He is hiding. And it’s in His Word that I find how openly and clearly He has spoken! There isn’t anything else we need in this life. Everything we need to live each day is found right here in His Word.
Sometimes we get frustrated because He’s hiding, or impatient because He isn’t clear. But we know that He loves us and that nothing can separate us from that love. When He hides, or when things seem to be unraveling, we flex the muscles of faith where the true power exists. Without these moments, would we really be serious believers? How shallow would our relationship be? God is unchanging. He’s truth extends beyond time, space and matter. His grace overwhelms us like a tidal wave at sea.