How does a prophecy given to Isaiah in the eighth century, and realized in the fifth century, have a direct bearing on our lives? The answer lies in the principle of “practicing the promises…,” then and now…and seeing the glory of God.
The Lord had revealed to Isaiah something of the coming of judgement upon Israel because of her abstinent refusal to follow God, deliberately turning away from Him, and this, in a determined and persistent manner. This would of course result in what Jeremiah addressed as the deportation, or exile. However, even in the eighth century, before the judgement and deportation, there was mentioned in Isaiah’s writings, the specific name of a king, who would be responsible for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and the laying of the foundation of the temple of God. (Is. 44:28) Jeremiah, who wrote his account of the deportation, did so in the 7th century, specifically mentioning that after a period of seventy years in exile, the Lord would visit Israel. (Jer. 29:10) We then come to the end of the book of 2 Chronicles, written in the 5th century, where we find mentioned the name of a certain king, Cyrus. This is the name that Isaiah had mentioned several hundred years before. And it will be this king of Persia who will declare: “Thus saith the king of Persia, ‘All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build Him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? The Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.” (2 Chron. 36:23) Now, why is this series of events so very important, with regard to our lives? The answer again lies in the principle of “Practicing the Promises.”
When Isaiah wrote his account of the appearance of Cyrus, and what was said by the Lord concerning him, he specifically wrote the words of God TO Cyrus, words which would be the basis for the realization of God’s purposes in the building of Jerusalem and the temple. The first thing we need to see is that God called him his “anointed.” Not only was Cyrus chosen BY God, but he was perfectly equipped BY God. Secondly, God said that he had taken him by his right hand. This is significant because the right hand was the hand of authority. God’s authority would be exercised by, through Cyrus. The result would be that nations would be affected, and play a role in the unveiling of God’s purposes. Then came specific promises, which are consistently revealed elsewhere in Scripture. It is as these promises of God are believed, and acted upon, that His purposes are realized through Cyrus, and will be realized through us.
Promise #1: “I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut.” We are in a spiritual battle, where a “strong man” seeks to hinder and resist the purposes of God. God is declaring that His authority is on the side of Cyrus, and ours is in Christ. This authority has the capacity, and certainty, of opening closed gates (doors), and keeping them open. Jesus even declared that the “gates of hell” would not prevail against the church. Promise #2: “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight.” The Lord promises not only go and precede us (…the Good Shepherd goeth before His sheep…), but to make the crooked places straight, to make clear the way, providing a certain path. Promise #3 “I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” Why does the Lord mention this apparently for the second time? It is because Cyrus must be VERY clear and sure of God’s victory in the face of “gates of brass” and “bars of iron,” very real points of resistance, if he is to overcome by faith. The strongholds of Satan defy the advancement of the kingdom of God. Lastly, Promise #4: “I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places.” Not only is there the promise of provision for all that God demands, but there is the promise of reward. “He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The “reward” may take several forms, for there are many ways God blesses. But one thing is certain. We will, like Cyrus, come to know, as a result of believing His promises and acting upon them, that as God called Cyrus by his name, we too shall KNOW that God has called us by our name.