Cyrus is God's good guy
God on Persia’s side1
The LORD has something to say to Cyrus,
God’s chosen king.
The LORD is holding his right hand
As the king tramples over nations,
And takes kingdoms from their kings.
City gates open for him.
And he keeps them open wide.
Flatten mountains in your path.
I’ll shatter bronze gates
And tear iron bars away.
3 I’ll give you treasure hidden in darkness,
In secret vaults once thought secure.
Then you’ll see that I’m the LORD,
And I’ll call you by your name.
You don’t know me, but you will4
You don’t know me yet.
But I do this for my people, Israel,
Descendants of my servant Jacob.
Among gods, I’m all there is.
There’s no one else but me.
You don’t know me yet.
But I know you,
And I’m your source of power.
6 I do this so people will know,
From sunrise east to sunset west
The LORD is the only god.
There’s no god but me.
7 I give you light of day,
Darkness of the night.
I bring you happy squeals of joy,
And I bring you grief and tears.
8 Heaven above, let it pour.
Send righteousness like rain.
Crack the ground and plant the seed.
For justice and salvation.
I’m the LORD. And I’m going to see it through.
Shame on people like this9
It’ll be bad news for anyone
With the chutzpah to fight their Maker.
Does a pot say to its potter,
“Guy, a pot without handles?”
“What kind of kid would you contribute to the world?”
Or who tells a woman in labor,
“Your kid doesn’t have a chance.”
11 So the LORD, Israel’s Holy One,
Has this to say about it:
What right do you have to question me
About my children or the work I choose to do?
12 Listen, I made the earth
And created humans.
I stretched the sky above you
And filled it with the stars.
13 I’m the LORD of everyone.
I made Cyrus a good guy.
And I’ll clear his path ahead.
He’ll rebuild Jerusalem for me,
Set my exiled people free,
While wanting nothing in return.
God gives Cyrus Egypt’s land14
The LORD says this:
I’m giving you Egypt’s treasure,
With Ethiopia’s wealth,
And tall Sabeans as your slaves.
In chains they’ll bow to follow you, saying,
“There’s just one God
And he is with you.
There’s no other god but him.”
And hides himself from view.
You’re Israel’s God and Savior.
16 Idol makers will become confused,
Disgraced, and put to shame.
17 But the LORD himself saves Israel,
And keeps them safe forever.
They’ll never be confused or shamed again.
God didn’t promise Israel a trashed-land home18
What you’re about to hear comes from the LORD,
Creator of heaven, the only real God.
He made the earth, and he did it alone.
He didn’t create a wasteland,
A junkyard of a planet.
He prepared it as a place to live
And this is what he says:
I am the LORD. There’s no god but me.
While hiding in the darkness.
I didn’t tell Jacob’s descendants,
“You’ll find me in the wasteland
Of what the war did to Israel.”
I’m the LORD who tells the future.
And what I say is going to happen
Is going to happen.
God gives an altar call invitation20
Call a meeting and get everyone together.
Refugees from every damaged nation.
Bring the idol-worshipers, too.
They had no idea wooden idols couldn’t save them,
Or that praying to blocks of wood couldn’t help.
Didn’t I tell you long before it ever happened?
There’s no other god to do that. I’m the only god around.
I’m a good God who wants to save you.
There’s no other god but me.
22 Come and let me rescue you.
It doesn’t matter where you come from.
I am God. There’s no other place to go.
23 I’ve made myself a promise
And I will not break my word:
“Every person will bow
To acknowledge who I am.
Every person will pledge allegiance to me.”
24 They’ll say, “Strength and victory come from God.”
Those who hate him will one day face him.
And when they do, they’ll be ashamed.
25 But the people of Israel will win the day
And bask in the glory of victory.
The LORD will make it happen.
Literally, “anointed.” Kings were anointed with oil to signify that God had chosen him. The king became known as God’s “anointed,” or “the anointed one.” In the original language of Hebrew, the word is “messiah.” Many Christians often see this word in the Old Testament as a foreshadowing of Jesus the Messiah a thousand years before he came to earth. But to the readers in Bible times, the word simply meant their king. Israel’s kings were presented to the nation as God’s chosen leader, literally God’s anointed one. The ritual of crowning someone king involved an anointing—pouring olive oil over the ruler’s head. Samuel anointed young David as Israel’s king (1 Samuel 16:12-13). The ritual sounds messy, but the olive oil would have felt refreshing poured onto someone living without air-conditioning in the ancient Middle Eastern heat.
There was a custom about this in what is now Iraq, where Babylonians deported the Jews in 586 BC. Every year on the Babylonian New Year’s Day, the king would take the right hand of the idol god called Bel. This was a symbol of king’s divine power. Here, in this poetic metaphor, the living God takes the right hand of Cyrus as the source of his power.
Babylon literally opened its gates to Cyrus’ army. He took the capital city of the Babylonian Empire without a battle. And Armenia didn’t resist when he invaded their land. He had a generous policy toward kingdoms he conquered, and that helped him grow the Persian Empire.
The writer seems to be defending God’s right to back a foreign power. Cyrus is a king who considered the Jewish homeland part of his territory instead of a free and independent nation.
This is exactly what Cyrus did. The story shows up in Bible books (2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1-4) and in Persian history, especially on a cylinder known as Cyrus’ Edit. Isaiah’s details here are more specific than many scholars say we’ll find in any other prophecies in the Bible. This leads many scholars to argue that this material isn’t written as prophecy, but that it’s written as history, presented in the poetic style of prophecy. Other scholars argue that Isaiah wrote this as prophecy nearly two centuries before it happened.
People who depended on their gods to save them from the Persian invasion would be disappointed in them, if the people were lucky enough to survive.
Many people looking for advice or predictions about their own future would go to oracles, often in shrines located in dark caves or in protected, secretive rooms of worship centers.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.