Blog # 43, Nov. 29
Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you and forgotten you? I did feel that way for a time. But now I believe He says the same thing to us he said to Israel in Isaiah’s day:
“O Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.”
As soon as we returned, we enjoyed fellowship with God.
With the intimacy restored, God told them what he has done and what he will do as Redeemer. He confided to Isaiah his plan to use Cyrus, King of Persia, to fulfill his will, (v.28). After the fall of Jerusalem (which happened in 586 BC), followed by the 70 year exile in Babylon, Cyrus would defeat the Babylonians and release the Jews to go back to their homeland where they would rebuild Jerusalem and restore the temple. (Isaiah wrote this 150 years before Cyrus ruled, according to the Life Application Bible).
I wonder if Cyrus was aware of God’s call on his life (Isaiah 45:1-13) and had a relationship with him. Verse 3 says “that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” Yet in verse 4 and 5 God says “though you do not know me.”
In Ezra 1:1-4, it sounds as if Cyrus heard and obeyed according to the prophecy in Isaiah 45:13. Perhaps God’s call to Cyrus is another evidence of God’s character as a merciful God to pagans as well as to the Jews. It is certain God chose Cyrus as his instrument for a special purpose, although Cyrus didn’t know him. Perhaps God’s purpose was twofold: for Cyrus’s own redemption as well as to return the Israelites to their homeland. Although verses 4-5 in the NIV say Cyrus will not acknowledge him (at first), maybe later on he came to believe. This seems like something our redeeming God would do.
After God’s commission to Cyrus (45:1-8), he responds to those who think he shouldn’t use a pagan. Cannot God do whatever he chooses? If we disagree, verses 9-11 say we are like clay on the potter’s wheel. The Apostle Paul has something similar to say to those who complain about what God is doing. “Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me thus?’”(Romans 9:20-21). God is our almighty, omniscient, holy Creator (v.12). He knows what is best to do and will do it because He is sovereign. The fulfillment of the prophecy about Cyrus is in 2 Chron. 36:23, and Ezra 1 where Cyrus proclaims the Jews are free to go back to their homeland and rebuild their temple.
It makes me feel secure to know that God is not only merciful, but also is almighty, omniscient and sovereign.
Judith Vander Wege