Cyrus Of Persia, Anointed Of God

Q. My question is the meaning of verse 7 in context of the prophetic chapter 45 of Isaiah. It appears God is relaying a message to Cyrus, king of Persia to convince him who He is. Your insight is always appreciated.

A. The theme of this passage actually begins in Isaiah 44:24 and runs through Isaiah 45:13. It concerns God’s promise to restore Israel after the 70 years of captivity in Babylon had been completed (Jeremiah 29:10). In the passage God named Cyrus as Israel’s liberator even though Isaiah wrote this well before Cyrus was born. In Isaiah 45:1 God called Cyrus His anointed using a word that in English means “messiah” or “chosen one”. The passage includes a description of how Cyrus would subdue Babylon without a battle.

In Isaiah 45:4 God admitted that Cyrus was not a believer, but in verse 5 He said He would strengthen Cyrus anyway. Then, by way of introduction, God went on to describe Himself as if He was speaking directly to Cyrus, bringing his introduction to a close in verse 13 with a repeat of both His promise to strengthen Cyrus and a reminder of the task He had set before him.

This was a remarkable prophecy, which, according to historical accounts, Cyrus first read after conquering Babylon (Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI chapter 1.) Cyrus was so moved by its specific nature that he agreed to release the Jewish captives, giving them permission to re-build the temple and returning all the implements Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the first temple before destroying it 70 years earlier.

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