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Isaiah 45:17, 913comment (0)

April 16, 2009

By Dale Younce

Related Scripture: Isaiah 45:17, 913

Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

The Lord Is At Work
Isaiah 45:1–7, 9–13

When terrible events take place, whether caused by a natural disaster or man’s inhumanity to man, people are prone to question God’s existence or His love and power. This is especially true of believers when they are adversely affected. They ask questions such as “Why would God allow this to happen?” or make presumptive statements such as “God is doing a poor job of running His world.” At times, even the most devout believers can question whether the Lord is really in charge. The Lord wants His people to live with confidence that He is working in the world to achieve His purposes. This lesson illustrates that the Lord works out His purposes on the stage of history so that we may live with confidence.

Acknowledge the Lord’s Purposes (1–2)
Isaiah 40–66 are eighth century B.C. prophecies, given by Isaiah the prophet, looking ahead to the Babylonian Exile and beyond. The ability of Isaiah and other Old Testament-writing prophets to predict the near and remote future is truly amazing. Here the Lord calls King Cyrus of Persia by name 150 years before he came on the stage of history. The Lord, through Isaiah, details Cyrus’ conquest of Babylonia. He even refers to Cyrus as “my shepherd” (Isa. 44:28), and Isaiah refers to him as “His (God’s) anointed.” Cyrus is the only Gentile designated in the Old Testament as God’s anointed (i.e., Messiah), a term normally reserved for Israel’s kings and high priests. Nations would fall before Cyrus as he fulfilled God’s purpose for ending Israel’s exile. The Lord causes and empowers Cyrus the Great to accomplish His purpose in history. Believers today can be confident that the Lord is still working out His purposes in the world.

Awake to the Lord’s Presence (3–5)

In these verses, Cyrus is appointed and equipped by the Lord for a supreme task to which all his victories would be a prelude. He is to liberate God’s chosen people from Babylonian captivity. Along with his successes, Cyrus would amass incalculable wealth. Although he would be used to carry out the Lord’s plans, Cyrus would not know Him personally. There is no historical record indicating that he ever became a believer. It may come as a shock to some people to discover that God, in His sovereign providence, does govern men and nations. Though Cyrus would not know it, it would be Yahweh who would enable him to destroy the Babylonian Empire. Although God calls Cyrus by name, he is not a believer because he does not acknowledge Yahweh as the only genuine God. The Lord, in His sovereignty, can and does use unbelievers, as well as believers, to accomplish His will. The Lord would strengthen Cyrus for the sake of His chosen Israel even though Cyrus does not know Him in a personal relationship.

Applaud the Lord’s Power (6–7)

The reason the Lord appoints Cyrus to liberate Israel is so that people over the whole inhabited earth might know Him as Yahweh, the genuine God who really exists. Cyrus’ restoration of the Jews is designed to cause people to realize that Yahweh is alone and uniquely sovereign over all that exists. In Cyrus’ day, Yahweh was not uniquely acknowledged as the only genuine God but eventually He will be (Phil. 2:10–11). People everywhere will recognize that the Lord is the only God as He carries out His purposes and promises. Consequently we can confidently praise God for all the things that He accomplishes in the world.

Accept the Lord’s Sovereignty (9–13)

It is folly for human beings to question or criticize God’s ways. When someone voices disapproval of the Creator’s work, he or she risks receiving judgment. As the Lord of history, who brings to pass what He foretold will happen, God invites the people of Israel to put their trust in Him. He will bring on the stage of history Cyrus the Great, who will subsidize the reconstruction of Jerusalem and its temple without monetary or practical inducements. The Lord expects people to trust Him as Lord rather than question or criticize His work on behalf of His people. We can be confident that our Creator is sovereign and His work will result in blessing to His people.

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