The name Cyrus was already mentioned by Isaiah in the previous chapter—an amazing detail referring to Cyrus the Great who reigned in Persia in the sixth century BC. Remember that Isaiah ministered in the eighth and seventh centuries BC, long before the birth of this Cyrus, who had such a prominent place in these chapters of prophecy and in the deliverance of many peoples, including the Jews. Cyrus would defeat the Babylonians, and would eventually issue the decree authorizing the return of many Jews to their homeland and the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem.
Cyrus was called here the Lord’s anointed. That was another way of saying “Messiah” or “Christ.” The anointed one was chosen by God for a special task of deliverance and salvation for the people of God. Here the title was given to a non-Jewish emperor. God was able to use a wide variety of people for the accomplishment of His will. God led the way for Cyrus. He brought him to power and removed obstacles that stood in his way. It was God who was able to call such a man by name for the sake of His people Israel, even though this man may not have worshiped the Almighty.
Cyrus was an amazing figure in human history, but we are most interested in God. Who is this God? He loves righteousness, and He will bring about the fruit of righteousness as His wonderful plans unfold. Seemingly unbeatable foes can be easily defeated by Him. Strong nations that seem unstoppable can be brought to an end in a moment. He is in charge of the earth and the stars. He rules men and angels. He knows and brings about things that are to come. This God sets Cyrus in place at just the right time to complete His own holy purposes.
Though the Lord’s ways are most complex, and though His secret will cannot be guessed or fully understood by men, this is not because He is being entirely secretive in all of His works. He has shown to us the way of righteousness and truth in His Son. He has made the meaning of His moral law clear for all who would have a heart to follow Him. But have we obeyed? We need Him to overcome our disobedience.
As God is Savior, He has also provided a Messiah-Savior who is far above Cyrus. Cyrus the Great performed the will of his Creator without having a very complete understanding of the Lawgiver behind all of the providential events in which he was a central figure. By contrast, Jesus played His part as the Son of God as one who willingly became man in order to accomplish a mission with which He was perfectly aware. Christ understood our sin. He knew the penalty that the Law demanded and willingly accepted the punishment for us. As His Father is God and Savior, so the Son of God is also God and Savior. He understood His office as the Anointed One in the plan of redemption and executed the charge committed to Him flawlessly.
It is now incumbent upon all of us to surrender before the majesty of this King whose glory was veiled in humble flesh, and who has redeemed not only our souls, but even our bodies. We must turn to Him and be saved. Many powerful people, though mightily used by God, may entirely mistake the Lord Jesus Christ as too simple, too poor, and too powerless to be seriously received as the King that He is. But we have come to know the truth that Jesus is Lord.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, You have a Messiah King who is better than any emperor of old. Every other great king pointed forward to this one King and Lord. This Redeemer is the Son of God. He is also the Son of Man. He is the Potter. Has He now become the clay for our sake? Your Son shall build up Your city. He shall set the exiles free. Even now Christ has set us free. Yet we wait for Him. We long for the fullness of salvation that is ours in Him. We seek You and we find You. You have gathered us from the nations. You declared this long ago, and have vindicated Your holy Word. Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of Your holy Name.