Jerusalem to be Inhabited (cont’d), 1-25
Isa 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:
“His anointed” – What a surprise for God to use this title of Cyrus, the ruler of the Persian empire. He was not an Israelite, nor a king in the line of David. Nor was he ‘The Messiah’ in the later sense of the term. But the application of this title to him tells us a lot about messiahship – what it meant at the time and what it came to mean when applied to ‘the one who was to come’.
- God chose Cyrus and raised him up for his appointed task, Isa 41:2ff, 25.
- Cyrus’ accomplishments were therefore God’s accomplishments. He was God’s agent, Isa 44:28; 45:1-5.
- Cyrus’ task was the deliverance of Israel from her enemies, Isa 44:28; 45:13
- Indeed, all of Cyrus’ world-wide dominion was for the benefit of the people of God, Isa 41:2-4; 45:1-4
- His work on Israel’s behalf would ultimately serve the purpose of extending God’s deliverance to the ends of the earth, Isa 45:21-25.
(See Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, 144)
Motyer points out that ‘there is much in this passage that Isaiah’s people could have accepted without comment: that when a conqueror arises, ‘the authorities that exist’ have been ‘established by God’ (1; Rom. 13:1); that the conquering power they exercise is by divine gift (2–3), that somehow the Lord’s own people are always at the centre of his concern (4), and that the Lord is working out a worldwide plan (6).’ However, to call Cyrus the Lord’s anointed was quite unexpected. This was a title used of Israel’s king: of Saul (1 Sam. 12:3, 5; 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 23; 2 Sam. 1:14, 16) and of David (1 Sam. 16:6; Ps. 18:50; 132:10), and of the expected ‘David’ of the future (Psa 2:2). To call this pagan king by the same title would cause consternation among God’s people, and show then (and us) that we works on an altogether different scale than we can think or imagine (cf. Isa 55:8).
On the predictive element in this prophecy, Oswalt says: ‘Isaiah has repeatedly insisted that God alone can tell the future and that the attempt to do so by the devotees of the gods only make them look like “fools” (Isa 44:25). His ability to name the deliverer far in advance is the climactic demonstration of this fact. If we deny the obvious predictive claim that Isaiah of Jerusalem is making and instead posit some unknown person simply declaring after the fact that Cyrus was God’s man, we have made this unknown prophet deny the very thing he claims. God has, then, not named the deliver in advance and the prophet knows it. That is not great theology; it is misrepresentation of the facts.’
Isa 45:2 I will go before you and will level the mountains ; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
Isa 45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
Isa 45:4 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.
Isa 45:5 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,
Isa 45:6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Isa 45:7 I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
“I create disaster” (AV “I create evil”) – ‘The assertion in this passage is so bold that Marcion, an early Christian heretic, used this text to prove that the God of the Old Testament was a different being from the God of the New. Thus the nature of this hard saying is simply this: Is God the author of evil? Numerous texts flatly declare that God is not, and could not be, the author of evil. For example, Deuteronomy 32:4 declares that his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. [He is] a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. Similarly, Psalm 5:4 notes, You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil. If we read the Bible in its total canonical setting, it would seem that God is without evil or any pretense of evil. The text in question refers to physical evil. As does Lamentations 3:38, it contrasts prosperity and adversity. Thus the good is physical goodness and happiness, while the evil is physical distress, misfortune, calamity and natural evil, such as storms, earthquakes and other disasters. Even though much of the physical evil often comes through the hand of wicked men and women, ultimately God permits it. Thus, according to the Hebrew way of speaking, which ignores secondary causation in a way Western thought would never do, whatever God permits may be directly attributed to him, often without noting that secondary and sinful parties were the immediate causes of the disaster. The evil spoken of in this text and similar passages (such as Jer 18:11; Lam 3:38 and Amos 3:6) refers to natural evil and not moral evil. Natural evil is seen in a volcanic eruption, plague, earthquake and destructive fire. It is God who must allow (and that is the proper term) these calamities to come. But, one could ask, isnt a God who allows natural disasters thereby morally evil? To pose the question in this manner is to ask for the origins of evil. Christianity has more than answered the problem of the presence of evil (for that is the whole message of the cross) and the problem of the outcome of evil (for Christs resurrection demonstrates that God can beat out even the last enemy and greatest evil, death itself). But Christianitys most difficult question is the origin of evil. Why did God ever allow that stuff in the first place? Augustine taught that evil is not a substance. It is, as it were, a byproduct of our freedom, and especially of our sin. The effects of that sin did not fall solely on the world of humans. Its debilitating effects hit the whole natural world as well. Nevertheless, it is not as if God can do nothing or that he is just as surprised as we are by natural evil. Any disaster must fall within the sovereign will of God, even though God is not the sponsor or author of that evil. When we attempt to harmonize these statements we begin to invade the realms of divine mystery. What we can be sure of, however, is the fact that God is never, ever, the originator and author of evil. It would be contrary to his whole nature and being as consistently revealed in Scripture.’ (HSB)
Isa 45:8 “You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it.
Isa 45:9 “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’?
Isa 45:10 Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to his mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’
Isa 45:11 “This is what the LORD says– the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands?
Isa 45:12 It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
Isa 45:13 I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.”
Isa 45:14 This is what the LORD says: “The products of Egypt and the merchandise of Cush, and those tall Sabeans– they will come over to you and will be yours; they will trudge behind you, coming over to you in chains. They will bow down before you and plead with you, saying, ‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.'”
Isa 45:15 Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.
Isa 45:16 All the makers of idols will be put to shame and disgraced; they will go off into disgrace together.
Isa 45:17 But Israel will be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation; you will never be put to shame or disgraced, to ages everlasting.
Isa 45:18 For this is what the LORD says– he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited– he says: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Isa 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness; I have not said to Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain.’ I, the LORD, speak the truth; I declare what is right.
Isa 45:20 “Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save.
‘Scripture views idols as impotent. They are powerless to save (Isa 45:20). When Israel called upon idols there was no response. Israel was even told, with the voice of irony, to call upon idols for help (Deut 32:28; Judges 10:14; Jer 11:12) but the gods could not even save their own people (2 Chron 25:15). Idols are nothing (Jer 51:17-18) and lifeless (Psalm 106:28).’ (EDBT)
Isa 45:21 Declare what is to be, present it– let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.
Isa 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
‘Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in the minds of some of us, was the greatest preacher since the apostle Paul. When he was 22 years of age, he preached sermons that some of us hope we may preach before we die. We won’t, but we can dream. Until his death, he preached to five thousand people–morning and evening–in London in the days before you had great big crowds, before transportation was like what we know today.
When Spurgeon was 15 years of age, he had not come to a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. On a blustery, snowy Sunday morning, he decided to go to church. He couldn’t get to his planned destination because the weather was so bad. So he turned into a side street, and went into a Methodist church. The preacher didn’t even get there. Only fifteen people had come to the church. A layman decided worship ought to take place, so he got up to preach. He used Isaiah 45:22, “Look unto me and be saved, all you ends of the earth.” In ten minutes he had exhausted all that he could think to say.
Then he noticed a boy in the back, under the balcony. He said, “Young man, you look like you’re in trouble. Look unto Jesus and be saved.” That’s exactly what happened that morning. Charles Haddon Spurgeon gave his life to Christ. That troubled young man became the mightiest preacher of the last century. He was led to faith in Christ by a man nobody knows–an obscure layman.’ (Gordon Johnson)
Isa 45:23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.
“Before me every knee shall bow” – ‘When God manifests himself with such glorious power is a work of this nature, he appears especially determined to put honour upon his Son, and to fulfil his oath that he has sworn to him, that he would make every knee bow, and every tongue confess to him. God hath had it very much on his heart, from all eternity, to glorify his dear and only-begotten Son; and there are some special seasons that he appoints to that end, wherein he comes forth with omnipotent power to fulfil his promise and oath to him. Now these are times of remarkable pouring out of his Spirit, to advance his kingdom; such is a day of his power, wherein his people shall be made willing, and he shall rule in the midst of his enemies; these especially are the times wherein God declares his firm decree, that his Son shall reign on his holy hill of Zion.’ (Edwards, Works, I, 380)
Isa 45:24 They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.'” All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame.
Isa 45:25 But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.