Isaiah had prophesied God would send a great king conquer the nations and direct the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple (Ezra 1). In a stunning announcement, He identified the king as “Cyrus…my shepherd,” more than a hundred years before that king was born (Isaiah 44:28)! How amazing to read in Isaiah 45, that the LORD identified the future king of Persia as His “anointed” (45:1).
Why would the LORD call a heathen king His “anointed,” and to what end would he serve God (45:1)?
The answer to that question is summed up in one word – “Sovereignty.” The LORD is Creator, and the Sustainer and Sovereign of creation. No created being is beyond His rule and authority. Every nation, king, dictator, and president is an instrument in the hand of the LORD, and without Him the most powerful men are nothing. Consider the words of the LORD in Isaiah’s prophecy:
Isaiah 45:5-8 – “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded [bind; encircle] thee [king Cyrus of Persia], though thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil [not sin, but calamity; sorrow]: I the LORD do all these things.”
God is Creator and Sovereign (45:9-18)
Kings, presidents, dictators, and leaders may boast, “Look what I have wrought;” however, men are nothing without the LORD! We are frail creatures of clay, and the LORD will have His way with us according to His eternal purposes. Isaiah admonished the foolishness of men who suppose they conduct their lives independently of God, saying, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds [i.e. broken pieces of pottery] of the earth. Shall the clay say to him [the potter] that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?” (Isaiah 45:9)
Unlike false prophets, and the idols of men that cannot speak, see, nor reason, the LORD challenged Israel, “Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, And concerning the work of my hands command ye me?” (45:11).
God who “made the earth, and created man upon it” (45:12), declared He would raise up a ruler “in righteousness …[who would] build my city [Jerusalem], and he shall let go my captives [Jews in Babylonian captivity]” (45:13). While Cyrus would not be a righteous man, he would rule accomplish God’s righteous purpose. Israel, unlike all ancient nations that rose to greatness only to become a footnote in history, was promised she “shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation” (45:17). A great testimony of the LORD’s sovereign faithfulness is the existence of an ancient people who identify themselves as the children of Israel!
Isaiah 45:18 eliminates any possibility of evolution or the co-existence of both a Creator and an evolutionary process. What does Isaiah 45:18 tell us about creation? “The LORD created the heavens” (the sun, stars, moons, and planets, 45:18a). The LORD “formed the earth” (45:18b). The LORD “established” the earth, and made it perfect according to His purpose (45:18c). God declared, “I am the LORD; and there is none else” (45:18).
God’s Appeal to Gentile Nations (45:19-25)
Isaiah called upon the nations to turn from their idols, and seek the LORD. Babylon would not be saved by her idols (45:20), and the prophet urged all humanity to acknowledge the LORD (45:21). Only the LORD could save, and He declared, “I am God, and there is none else” (45:22).
Isaiah warned, “every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear [confess]” (45:23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10-11) to the LORD, “and all that are incensed [wrath; angry] against Him [the LORD] shall be ashamed” (45:24).
Isaiah 46 – The Disgrace of False Gods
Confronting the heathen culture and its influence upon God’s people, Isaiah returned to a familiar theme—the disgrace and shame of men who worship idols and manmade images.
With the words, “Bel boweth down, Nebo stopped” (46:1), Isaiah confronted the gods of Babylon (Bel was the sun god, and Nebo his son). The prophet warned, the gods of Babylon would not save the city from destruction (46:2). He admonished God’s people (45:3-4), and reminded them how the LORD had given birth to Israel as a nation, and He had cared, and carried them from their youth to “old age” (46:4).
Again, Isaiah exposed the powerlessness of idols, whom men create, and worship, and reminded the people idols cannot save a people from their sins and troubles (46:5-8).
Closing thoughts – Today’s study concludes with the LORD appealing to idolaters to turn from their gods to Him, saying, “For I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me” (46:9). Remember, God knows “the end from the beginning,” and He has declared, “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (46:10).
God is Sovereign, and His purpose will be accomplished for His people.
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith