Saturday, August 9, 2014

Prophecy: reading history in Advance

Read Isaiah 45.

This prophecy concerns Cyrus, who became the head of the Medo-Persian Empire.  In short, the Assyrians would be defeated by the Babylonians.  The Babylonians would then take Judah captive for seventy years of exile.  Next, the Medes and Persians allied to conquer the Babylonians.  Cyrus not only assisted in helping the Jews return to their homeland from Babylon but he paid for the rebuilding of the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem.  Isaiah 45:13 is the prophecy and 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 is the historical record.

The astounding value of this portion of Isaiah, with names and details, is that it was written about 100 years in advance!  When God states, as He indicated in chapter 44, that He controls the future, He means it.

God referred to Cyrus as "my Shepherd" (44:28) and "his anointed" (45:1), called and used by God to fulfill His plans, "though you do know me" (v.4).  The LORD can use anyone and anything for His purpose, even unbelievers, without them realizing it.  Some may object and question God doing this.  But in verses 9-10, the LORD warns against arguing with Him.  As the Creator, He can do as He wishes with His property.

The future of the restoration of Israel, however, would not limited to their return to the land and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.  Of even more importance was the rebuilding of the nation spiritually.  The prophecy looks forward to a time when Israel will unitedly worship the LORD and experience the full blessings of God on earth.  In addition, all nations will acknowledge that He is the one true God and that there is no one else (v. 14).

His call in verse 22 is to "Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth!"  We have the freedom to respond now.  But in that day, when Messiah rules and reigns from the throne of David, the response will be by both worship and command.  The Apostle Paul undoubtedly used verse 23 and applied it to Jesus in Philippians 2:10-11: "So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  

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