Text: Isaiah 45:1-13
If I were going to give today’s teaching a title, it would be, “He Calls You by Your Name.” The LORD called Cyrus by name, long before Cyrus was born. And Cyrus did not refuse His call. Hallelujah! The LORD used a pagan king as His servant, to return His people to Judah after 70 years of captivity in Babylon!
He calls every person on the planet by their names, to come to Him through His Son. Some hear His voice and come! How wonderful!
He calls all believers by their names, announcing that only He can deliver them from their sin nature and purify their hearts. Some hear His voice and obey His command to stay (Luke 24:49) and wait (Acts 1:4-5), and He delivers them!
But I tell you the truth, in today’s church, some rebel by putting their fingers in their ears when He calls them by their names and commands them to stay and wait. Thus, they disobey the Lord, and if they do not turn back and obey Him, they are in danger of perishing.
Verses 1-2 —
“Thus says the LORD God to Cyrus, His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before Him, and to loose the loins of kings (literally, the LORD will loose the loins of kings) to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut.”
Cyrus is the LORD’s anointed, His set-apart one. Yet Cyrus was not yet born, when the LORD gave this prophecy to Isaiah. How can that be? As I have said, the LORD sits above time. He sees the end from the beginning. So, He already knew the name of the one He would choose.
Isaiah prophesied from 740 BC to approximately 679 BC. Cyrus was not born until 601 BC (78 years after the LORD prophesied this through Isaiah). Cyrus did not reign as king of Media until 559 BC. Yet the LORD called Cyrus by name.
Cyrus was His anointed. The LORD took Cyrus by the right hand (that is, He gave Him direction and help. For what purpose? There were three purposes —
— To conquer nations. The LORD would make Cyrus victorious in battles with many nations. The LORD would loose the loins of kings. They would see his army coming, and be so terror-stricken by his power and many victories that they would uncontrollably defecate on themselves.
— To open doors before Cyrus, so that gates will not be shut.
— To make rough places smooth.
Cyrus’ path to the defeat of Babylon would be easy. Nothing would stop him. The LORD would clear the way.
The shattering of the doors of bronze and cutting through their iron bars are direct references to the historical record of the defeat of Babylon.
Belshazzar, the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, was king of Babylon. He mocked the LORD, drinking from the consecrated vessels reserved for the temple of the LORD that were taken as booty by his grandfather (Daniel 5:3-4). As they drank, they praised their false gods. (See Daniel 5:3-4.)
According to history, Cyrus’ men entered the palace through an underground waterway. They drained it, cut the iron bars that covered it, and then entered the palace undetected.
Herodotus wrote of Babylon: “There are a hundred gates in the circuit of the wall, all of bronze with bronze uprights and lintels.” But the LORD would open these gates for Cyrus.
Thus, because Cyrus was the one God chose to restore His people to the land, Cyrus’ Medo-Persian army successfully broke through what looked impenetrable.
And they conquered Babylon. In one night, Belshazzar’s palace was overrun by Cyrus and his Medo-Persian army (Daniel 5:30).
Verse 3 —
When Cyrus and his army entered the palace, they took the treasures of darkness. These were the treasures that had been taken as booty in their conquests over many nations.
Babylon had hoarded their hidden wealth and hid it in dark storage areas, hence the name “treasures of darkness.” But these treasures were also rightly called “treasures of darkness” because they were taken by Babylon, which worshiped false gods. Thus, they were spiritually darkened.
Everything from Verses 1-3 would be done by the LORD so Cyrus would know that it is the LORD, the God of Israel, who had called him by his name, before he was even born.
Indeed, Cyrus knew it was the LORD. These were Cyrus’ words, when he freed the Jewish captives of Babylon —
2Chronicles 36:22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia — in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah (70 years of captivity) — the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”
Verses 4-5 —
The LORD continues, “For the sake of Jacob My servant and Israel my chosen one, I have also called you (Cyrus) by your name; I have given you a title of honor, though you have not known Me.”
“I am the LORD, and there is no other. Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you (encompass you), though you have not known Me.”
The LORD tells Cyrus that it was not for his sake that the LORD gave Him victory and protection. It was for the sake of keeping His promise to His repentant people, to return them to the land at the end of 70 years of exile. Thus, the LORD would reveal to His own people as well as to Cyrus that He is God and there is no other.
It was not for Cyrus’ sake that the LORD called him by his name. It was not for Cyrus’ sake that the LORD encircled him with His protection and gave him a title of honor, even though Cyrus did not know Him. The LORD called Cyrus by his name so that all men everywhere would know that there is no other God but Him.
Jesus Christ explains why He prays to His Father for His disciples to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the same divine nature as He and His Father —
John 17:20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”
Verses 6-7 —
The LORD continues, “That men would know, from the rising to the setting of the sun, that there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD and there is no other.”
No one could have freed the LORD’s people but Him. And Cyrus could not have defeated Babylon unless the LORD appointed him to do it. From one end of the earth to the other, the LORD would be seen as exactly who He says He is, and that He is the only God, so they would understand that all other gods are false.
He is the only one who formed light and created darkness (Genesis 1:1-5). He alone causes peace (for those who obey Him) and calamity (for those who rebel against Him). He is the LORD, and only He does all these things.
Verse 8 —
Now, the LORD speaks of what it will be like for believers, when He pours our His Spirit, which He hinted at in Isaiah 44:3 —
The LORD says, “Drip down (literally, drop down), O heavens, from above” —heaven comes down and enters the heart, at the moment when you are filled!
“And let the clouds pour down (gush out a stream of) righteousness” — the living water of the Holy Spirit is poured into your heart, at the moment when you are filled!
“Let the earth open up (be opened wide) and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness spring up with it” — the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and the righteousness of God are seen in you, at the moment when you are filled. You become the righteousness of God, in Christ (2Corinthians 5:21).
“I, the LORD, have created (done) it.” Surely, He will do it in any who stay and wait!
Verses 9-10 —
In contrast, the LORD says, “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker.” You and I are created by Him. He is the creator. You and I are earthenware, pottery, a vessel made of earth, composed of dust (Genesis 2:7). What right to you or I have to accuse God of doing wrong? What right do we have to find fault with what He does?
He continues, “Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands?’” Clay cannot speak or think or reason. It can say nothing.
The LORD is not “in your hands,” so you cannot shape Him into what You want Him to be. You are in His hands. He made you; you cannot remake Him!
And He says, “Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?,’ or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?” In other words, they question a man or woman about and judge their offspring.
Again, what right do you and I have to tell our Maker what to do, or to say to Him that what He does is wrong, or the way in which He does it is wrong?
What right do you and I have to quarrel with our Maker? Listen to His rebuke of Job, who did such things —
Job 40:1 Then the LORD said to Job, 2 “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves (corrects, rebukes) God answer it.”
Verses 11-12 —
The LORD speaks so that His people may think about what they are doing! The LORD says He is the Holy One of Israel, and Israel’s Maker. He challenges them, saying “Ask Me about the things to come concerning my sons (those who believe into Me). And you shall commit to Me the works of My hands.” That is a very poor NAS Bible translation, but the Hebrew-to-English is this —
“Do you ask Me the things to come? Do you give command to Me about My sons, and about the work of My hands?”
Again, the LORD is not “in your hands,” so you cannot shape Him into what You want Him to be. You are in His hands. He made you; you cannot remake Him!
This truth comes against all the “name and claim” theology of today’s church! If you have followed it and practice it, repent, O believer!
He created the earth, He created man! He stretched out the heavens with His hands, and He commanded their host — all that is in the heavens — to be made!
Verse 13 —
Because He is righteous, the LORD aroused Cyrus and made his ways smooth. He promised the return of His people after seventy years of captivity (Jeremiah 25:11-12, 29:10), and He does as He promises.
Cyrus will build the LORD’s city because the LORD says so. The LORD of hosts, Jesus Christ, says, “He will let My exiles go free, without any payment or reward (gift).” Cyrus will simply do it because the LORD said, “Do it!”
Next time, I will teach Isaiah 45:14-25, and show you what the LORD says He will do with those who make idols and worship them — even the idol of the god of self, O believer. He will humble such ones. And then He will offer them His salvation, if they turn to Him.
Lord Jesus, may Your church see that she is in error when she attempts to command you to do things, and when she judges your actions. And may she repent.
Let it be so, I pray. Amen.