Isaiah 45 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
The LORD's Word concerning Cyrus continues from the preceding chapter (Isa 44:6-28; especially v.24-28), where He spoke "of Cyrus" (v.28). Here, in ch. 45, He speaks "to Cyrus." It seems likely, that Daniel delivered this prophetic message to Cyrus, after the promised conquests were accomplished, and prior to his decree (in his first year) to restore Jerusalem (cp. Ezra 1:1-7; Dan 10:1).
1. Thus saith the LORD to his anointed {HB=mashiach}, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have holden,
to subdue nations before him;
and I will loose the loins of kings,
to open before him the two leaved gates;
and the gates shall not be shut;
2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight:
I will break in pieces the gates of brass,
and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness,
and hidden riches of secret places,
that thou mayest know that I, the LORD,
which call [thee] by thy name, [am] the God of Israel.
4 For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect,
I have even called thee by thy name:
I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
5. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else,
[there is] no God beside me:
I girded
{ie., clothed, equipped, prepared} thee,
though thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know
from the rising of the sun, and from the west,
{ie., throughout the inhabited world}
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:
I the LORD do all these [things].
8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above,
and let the skies pour down righteousness:
let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation,
and let righteousness spring up together;
I the LORD have created it.
Thus saith the LORD to Cyrus...
...I will loose the loins of kings...-
This was fulfilled literally, in the terror of Belshazzar, the last king of Babylon, on the night in which his empire fell to the Medes and Persians (Dan 5:5-6,30-31).
...I will go before thee...- As shown in the reference above,
Babylon was conquered by Darius the Mede. Darius reigned in Babylon for two years. He was succeeded in the throne by his nephew Cyrus, who was the son of Darius' sister, Mundane, and her husband Cambyses the Persian. (Through their marriage the Medes and the Persians were joined together.) Although Cyrus did not conquer the city, the LORD used Darius to prepare the way for him to reign there. open before him the two leaved gates... I will break in pieces the gates of brass...-
The gates of Babylon that kept her enemies out would be opened.
The gates of Babylon that held Israel captive and prevented her return would be broken.
     Babylon's rulers considered the city to be impenetrable because of its insurmountable wall. The LORD's Word to Cyrus foresees the method by which Babylon would be conquered. According to the Greek historian, Herodotus, where the Euphrates River passed through the city, strong walls lined each bank, with large brass gates allowing access to the river. On the night in which Belshazzar was slain, these gates were inexplicably left open. The Medes and Persians diverted the course of the river allowing their army to enter the city by way of the dry riverbed (cp. Isa 44:27,28).
...I will give thee the treasures of darkness {ie., that are hidden in obscurity}...-
All of Babylon's treasures came under the control of Cyrus. (cp. Dan 5:1-4 with Ezra 1:7,8)
for Jacob my servant's sake... I have even called thee by thy name...-
Cyrus must have been astounded, when Daniel showed him this page in Isaiah's prophecy. Not only did God call Cyrus by name, long before his birth, but also He made it clear that the purpose of His call was to advance His purposes toward His people, Israel. We have already observed that Cyrus responded, taking action in behalf of God's people, and acknowledging the LORD God (cp. v.5,6; Ezra 1:2).
I have surnamed thee {ie., given you titles}...- In addition calling Cyrus by his name,
the LORD addressed him as "His Anointed" (v.1) and "My Shepherd" (Isa 44:28).
In the first sense, the LORD 'appointed' Cyrus to accomplish His purpose, which was (in the second sense) to provide for the well-being of God's people (His flock) by restoring them to their land.
In these roles, Cyrus foreshadows the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, at His second coming.
...though thou hast not known me...-
Along with His call, the LORD gave Cyrus a brief introduction to the God of Israel.
  • I am the LORD {Jehovah}, and there is none else. There is no God beside me...-
    • This point is emphasized by its repetition (v.5,6), and also by the meaning of His name.
    • His name, Jehovah, is based on the Hebrew verb "to be." Ex 3:14,15
      He does not say "I have been" or "I will be," but rather, "I am," for as the eternally self-existent One, He is.
  • ...I called thee... I surnamed thee... I girded thee...-
    The LORD had prepared Cyrus for a specific role... by which, He would make known to men everywhere (from the east, to the west), that the LORD is the only true God (v.6).
    The name 'Cyrus' is thought to mean 'sun.' Thus, 'the rising of the sun' may also refer to the ascendency of Cyrus, in accord with the LORD's prophetic word.
  • ...I form the light, and create darkness...- There is but one Creator God.
  • ...I make peace {HB=shalom, welfare, soundness} and create evil {HB=ra, distress, calamity} -
    With both of these statements, in v.7, the LORD addresses Cyrus regarding his religious tradition. The religion known as Zoroastrianism comes from Persia. It holds that there is one supreme god, Ahura Mazda (or, Ormuzd), who is the god of light, truth and order. He is the antithesis of darkness and chaos, and will eventually prevail over a lesser malevolent god, Angra Mainyu (or, Ahriman) who is the principle of darkness and disorder. In these few words, the LORD deposes both gods, for He alone is the source of light and darkness, and of order and disorder.
       The word used for 'evil' {HB= ra'} never refers to 'sin.' God did not create sin, but He did ordain that troubles and sorrows would be the fruit of sin (eg., the 'distress' which befell Jonah and his companions, due to his rebellion, Jon 1:7,8).
Drop down {HB=ra'aph, distill, drip}, ye heavens... righteousness... salvation... -
These are the showers of blessing (as opposed to the torrential rain of judgment, eg., Luk 17:29).
Let righteousness spring up... I the LORD have created it.-
The reign of Cyrus would provide the environment for Israel's return to serve the LORD. In the previous chapters, righteousness was held in contrast to idolatry. Following the Babylonian captivity, Israel forsook the worship of idols. The restoration of Israel under Cyrus, foreshadows the blessings of Christ's future Kingdom (Isa 4:2; 11:1,4,5).
9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!
[Let] the potsherd [strive] with the potsherds of the earth.
Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it,
What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
10 Woe unto him that saith unto [his] father, What begettest thou?
or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
11. Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his
{ie., Israel's} Maker,
Ask me of things to come concerning my sons,
and concerning the work of my hands command ye me.
The last two lines, of v.11, might be paraphrased:
     "Do you question Me concerning My sons?"
     "Do you give command to Me concerning the works of My hands?"
12 I have made the earth, and created man upon it:
I, [even] my hands, have stretched out the heavens,
and all their host have I commanded.
13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways:
he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives,
not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.
"The 'woe' denounced in verses 9-13 is directed to those among the Hebrews who criticized the action of God in choosing a heathen prince as the deliverer of His People. These objectors are compared to potsherds objecting to the action of the potter (v.9); they are likened to a selfish boy who is angered at the birth of a brother (v.10); and they are challenged to set their knowledge against that of God (v.11), and against His creative might (v.12); and the conclusion is that, in spite of the criticisms of the objectors, God raised up Cyrus, prospered him in all his campaigns, and disposed him to release the Hebrew captives and to build Zion (v.13)." [GWms]
The following verses look beyond the restoration of Israel under Cyrus, to their ultimate restoration under the Messiah, whom Cyrus foreshadows.
14 Thus saith the LORD,
The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans,
men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine:
they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over,
and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee,
[saying], Surely God [is] in thee; and [there is] none else,
[there is] no God
{ie., there is no other God, cp. v.5,21; Isa 44:6}.
In the day of Christ's Millennial Kingdom, the Gentile nations will join themselves to Israel, in order to seek the LORD and His blessing. cp. Zech 8:22,23
15 Verily thou [art] a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.
16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded
{ie., disgraced}, all of them:
they shall go to confusion
{ie., disgrace, ignominy} together [that are] makers of idols.
17 [But] Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation:
ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.
'World without end' is translated from one word (HB='olam), meaning 'in perpetuity' or 'forever.'
18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens;
God himself
{lit., He is the God} that formed the earth and made it;
he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited:
I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else.
19 I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth:
I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain:
I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.
thou art a God that hidest thyself...-
In that future day, as men turn to the LORD,
they will confess that God's ways are beyond human understanding. cp. v.9; Isa 55:8,9; Rom 11:33,34
they shall be ashamed... confounded... the makers of idols...-
Those who follow false gods will suffer the loss befitting their error.
but Israel shall be saved in the LORD, with an everlasting salvation...-
They will never again fall away from Him, into apostasy or idolatry.
This salvation, being completely 'of Him,' will endure 'forever.' Rom 11:36
He created it {the earth} not in vain {HB=tohu, without form, cp. Gen 1:2}... to be inhabited...-
Comparing this verse (v.18) with Gen 1:1,2, some scholars suggest that the earth was created with inhabitants in Gen 1:1, until it "became without form and void" in Gen 1:2, due to an unexplained catastrophic destruction. However, the opening verses of Genesis may simply describe the order of the creation process: from nothing, to formless uninhabited matter, and onward with ever increasing order during the days of creation.
     In any case, the purpose, of the passage before us, is not to reveal the 'how' of creation, but the 'Who' and 'why.' The LORD Himself created "heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is" (Ex 20:11), so that earth's inhabitants might know Him (see the last line of v.18).
I have not spoken in secret...- Here (v.19), the LORD answers the complaint of the Gentiles, in v.15.
The LORD God gave His oracles to Israel. But they were always open for all to read. While Israel had an advantage (often squandered by unbelief, Rom 3:1-4), all men are willfully ignorant of the light of God's Word (Joh 3:19; Acts 17:29-31).
     In contrast to the Bible, the scriptures of heathen religions are sourced in occult darkness and hidden from the common man (Deu 29:29; 30:11-14; Isa 8:19,20).
I said not unto the seed of Jacob {ie., Israel},
'Seek ye me' in vain {HB= tohu, in confusion, formlessness, emptiness}.-
The LORD created the inhabitants of the earth, in order that they might come to know Him. For the same reason, He revealed Himself in His spoken and written Word, delivered through Israel. God's promises, which are sure to those who believe, remain true even though some do not believe (Rom 3:3,4). Although unbelievers see little value in it (cp. Mal 3:14), God's Word reveals His purposes and fulfills them perfectly (Isa 55:11; Mat 5:18,19; Joh 1:14; 5:39; 2Cor 1:20).
In the closing verses of this chapter, the LORD calls all men to learn,
from His dealings with Israel and with Cyrus,
that He is the only God... that His Word is True... and that He is the only Savior,
in order that they might turn from their vain confidences, and find deliverance in Him.
20. Assemble yourselves and come;
draw near together, ye [that are] escaped of the nations:
they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image,
and pray unto a god [that] cannot save.
21 Tell ye, and bring [them] near; yea, let them take counsel together:
who hath declared this from ancient time?
[who] hath told it from that time?
[have] not I the LORD? and [there is] no God else beside me;
a just God and a Saviour; [there is] none beside me.
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:
for I [am] God, and [there is] none else.
23 I have sworn by myself,
the word is gone out of my mouth [in] righteousness, and shall not return,
That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.
24 Surely, shall [one] say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength:
[even] to him shall [men] come;
and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
25 In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
ye that are escaped {ie., refugees, survivors} of the nations... (v.20) -
The terrible judgments, at the end of the future Tribulation period, will destroy the Antichrist and all who align with him (Rev 14:9–11). Of those who refuse the 'mark of the beast,' some will survive to the end. Yet, many will not yet know the LORD.
At that time, the LORD's Word will call those who remain in need of salvation... ...
look unto me, and be ye saved...- Joh 3:13-16; 6:40; Titus 2:13
I have sworn by myself...- Heb 6:13-20
the word has gone forth out of my mouth in righteousness... it shall not return...-
What God has said is right and true.
What God has said, He will do. Isa 55:11
...unto me every knee shall bow...-
  • Believers will give account before Him (Rom 14:10-12).
  • All created beings will acknowledge Him as the Lord of all (Php 2:8-11).
    But, in their belated acknowledgment of the Truth which they hated, the unsaved will be buried in regret and shame (v.24b).
Surely, shall one say, 'in the LORD have I righteousness...'-
He is the basis of salvation for every saved individual. Jer 23:5,6; 1Cor 1:30,31; Titus 3:3-7
in the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory {HB=halal, praise, boast}.-
He is the basis of salvation for the restored remnant of Israel. v.17; Acts 13:39; Rom 3:23-30
Someday, Israel will 'make their boast' in Him. Psa 64:10; Jer 9:23,24; 2Cor 10:17; Gal 6:14; Php 3:3-10

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