King Cyrus, God’s Anointed

Daily Readings: Psalm 38; Isaiah 45:1-7; Mark 4:1-20

Isaiah 45:1 – “This is what the Lord says to his anointed,
to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him
so that gates will not be shut:
I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things. (NIV)

Today we have a very interesting passage.  It’s interesting because it is about the Lord’s anointed (verse 1).  This wasn’t Jesus.  This wasn’t even a Jew!  This was Cyrus, also known as Cyrus the Great, king of Persia.  Why would a non Jewish king be God’s anointed?  To understand, we must open ourselves to a biblical truth – God is in control of everything!  While this might receive a hearty ‘Amen’ from most Christians, today’s passage also tells us that God can and does use non-believers to bring about God’s will.

Cyrus was not only the king of Persia, his army defeated the Babylonian army, and he took control of their lands.  Remember, many Jews were captives in Babylon.  When he gained control of Babylon, Cyrus was sympathetic to the Jewish people.  Ezra 1:1-4 gives the edict that Cyrus set forth – basically freeing the Jewish people, and giving them his blessing to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  Now, some would note that this was for political reasons.  They maintain that Cyrus’ policy was enacted so as to bring a level of stability into the land.  This may be true, and the Jewish people may have understood this, but they knew that God was behind it.

The lesson from Cyrus, king of Persia, is that the Will of God will be done!  God will use whomever God can to bring about God’s plan.  Did Cyrus ever become a Jew?  No, he did not, but God used him anyway.  It should be our prayer, as those who know and love God, that we would do what we can to help God’s plan come to fruition.

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2 Responses to King Cyrus, God’s Anointed

  1. Dale says:

    After I read your comments on the passage in the Isaiah, I went back and reread the passage again. Wow, does it read differently with an understanding of the background in that time of history.

    My bible would indicate that this passage was potentially written around 680 BC, and yet Jerueselum did not fall until about 100 years later, and then approx. 40 years after that Cyrus took control of Babylon. Which by my calculations means that Cyrus was most likely not even born at the time Isaiah wrote this passage. Would you agree or disagree with that conclusion?

    If you agree, then the disclaimer that this was done for political reasons really falls away. The classic “so what”, God set the tide in motion long before Cyrus concluded that it was politically expedient to do this, because He wanted His people freed, and from reading the passage in verse 3, “,… so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” It seems that God perhaps hoped that Cyrus would turn to Him.

    I wonder how different the lives of the Jews in this time would have been, if Cyrus would have listened to the knocking in his heart or in his head and turned to the Lord. I then fast forward to today, and wonder what leader God has appointed, perhaps in much the same way, that I refuse to believe that they are being used by God because they don’t acknowledge Christianity..

    That truly is Good Stuff, thanks for the posting Ramon

    • Ramon Torres says:

      Dale,

      There is question amongst biblical scholars (that’s what they do, after all) as to when Isaiah was written. The current understanding is that the book was written by at least three individual prophets. Writing in someone’s name was not uncommon in biblical times, and was not considered wrong. It was a way of honoring someone.

      Current understanding has chapters 1-39 written sometime in the 8th and 7th century BC: Chapters 40-55 written towards the end of the Babylonian exile (6th century BC); and the remainder written in Jerusalem shortly after the return of some of the exiles. Not everyone agrees, of course. However, this is my take on it, for what it’s worth!

      Thanks for reading – and commenting!
      Ramon

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