God’s mission for Cyrus, future king of Persia and conqueror of Babylon, is described in detail. He will liberate Judah’s exiles (45:1-2). He will see that this is the Lord’s work (45:3-4). God retains complete sovereignty of all world affairs (45:5-6), so whatever happens from creation to judgment, Yahweh declares His irreducible ultimacy (45:7-8).
Yet Cyrus will not arise for well over century. Perhaps Isaiah sensed a reluctance on the part of Israel to accept this prophecy. Israel was never given power to nullify a divine decision, so their foot dragging places them in a “woeful” position (45:9-10). Only the Holy One of Israel shapes the future: “Would you dictate to me about my work?” (45:11, Moffatt). To design a plan for the liberation of Judah, though destined for an exile yet to happen, is the “righteous” plan of the God who controls history, present and future (45:12). Therefore, Cyrus will certainly perform his divine mission (45:13).
Pagan nations around Judah will suffer consequences for idolatry (45:14). Most likely, the confession in verse 15 is the voice of pagans who come to realize the revelation of God to Israel and confess it. Isaiah then responds in affirmation of judgment upon unbelievers. Idol makers will suffer humiliation, but true Israel will rejoice in God’s salvation for eternity (45:16-17). This prophecy should occur when the Jews return from exile. That it did not happen then was due to failure to trust the Lord.
God alone is Sovereign Creator. He intended that the earth be inhabited with people who would know and trust Him (45:18). He is not a God who must be discovered; He has spoken plainly, making Himself available for all who will listen (45:19). Yahweh’s call goes out to all who are “fugitives” from a nation that prays to “a god who cannot save” (45:20). Court is open and the question is this: “Have the idols prophesied the liberation of God’s people from exile?” Only Yahweh can, so His worthiness is established as true God and Savior (45:21).
Will people turn in faith to God and be saved, for there exists no other God able to save them (45:22)? There will come a time when every person will acknowledge the lordship of God (45:23-24a). However, humiliation and shame await all who fail to trust Him as Lord (45:24b). Only those who are true to God will be saved (45:25).
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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