Isaiah Ch 45.
Not really taken much notice of it before, but historically, it was written approx a 100 years before the eventual release of the Jewish people from exile.
The Israelites were freed from their bondage in captivity by a political situation at the time. The then present king of babylon was conquered by a new super-power rising from persia, headed by... you guessed it...
Again let me repeat, Isaiah Ch 45 was written 100 years before this event occurred, and yet God names Cyrus specifically in this chapter as his "annointed one" (p.s. this is where we get the word messiah from), the person who will subdue other nations and build a kingdom of his own, but who will return the people of God back to their homeland.:
(quoted from the Message)
"God's message to his annointed, to Cyrus, whom he took by the hand
To give the task of taming the nations, of terrifying their kings-
He gave him free rein,
"I'll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road.
I'll break down bronze city gates, (Babylon was known for it's huge beautiful gates) smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances.
I'll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables-
Confirmations that it is, in fact, I, God
the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
It's because of my dear servant Jacob,
Israel my chosen,
That I've singled you out, called you by name,
and given you this privelleged work.
(my emphasis) And you don't even know me!
I am GOD, the only God there is.
Besides me there are no real gods.
I'm the one who armed you for this work,
(my emphasis) though you don't even know me,
So that everyone, from east to west, will know
that I have no god-rivals.
I am GOD, the only God there is."
What amazes me about this passage, is not just that I'm sure Isaiah had no idea who God was talking about, because it hadn't happenned yet, but also the fact that it seems to suggest something incredible.
Let me explain:
Cyrus, was known for his conquests, but the real reason behind them was not one of empire buiding, it was because of religious zeal. In the historical record, Cyrus was known for his zeal in following the God Marduk, the babylonian God. His reason for the attack on babylon, was because he wanted to 'liberate' it from the other God worship and re-focus the people's worship on Marduk.
The previous ruler of babylon had, in an attempt to rule sovereignly, demolished all Marduk worship and proclaimed himself worthy of worship instead. People were threatened with death unless they approved this new ruling. Cyrus came and changed all that, and set the people of babylon back to their own worship.
God, the God of Israel, Abraham, Issac & Jacob, was using this misplaced zeal for other Gods, to free his people. He had annointed Cyrus to use him for his own plans, even though Cyrus didn't even know him, or acknowledge him! That's what i find amazing in this passage. For the first time in the Bible ever, God admits he's annointed someone who doesn't follow him, so that his purposes for his people can be fulfilled!!
Kinda puts a new slant on the whole "I'm annointed" statement doesn't it?
It's God who annoints with his spirit, not us. Annointing, we can gather from this, is in God's domain, it's not something we can claim for ourselves, though so often in the church we hear people claiming they're "annointed", usually connected with preaching or worship.
Annointing means being "enabled" by God to do the job he's given you and called you to, so it's not just for the "holy people". Whether you play music, engineer, teach, plumb, drive, read, write, play, sort, stack, account for, or report to, you're still annointed if you are trying to follow what Jesus asks and demands of you, wherever you are.
Once again, this part of the Bible demonstrates that God doesn't fit our ideas about him, he decides how he will carry out his plans.
It's something to think about, and has certainly brought up more questions for me.
One thing to think about though, this certainly trashes the idea of "God could never use me".
If God can use a pagan king who hadn't heard of him, he can use just about anybody I would think!!
(Disclaimer: this line of thought isn't original, I happenned upon it listening to this sermon)
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Isaiah Ch 45.
Scribbled by Jm at 3:29 pm