Saturday, June 3 2023

Bible Reading for: August 7

Isaiah 44-47

If you belong to Christ, God has placed your name in the Book of Life. He has chosen you and he calls you by name. He has a plan for you.

In today’s reading, we hear a prophecy foretelling the ascent of Cyrus I, who will conquer Babylon and issue a decree allowing exiled Jews to return to their homeland. I did a little research to try and better understand the timing of things.

Based on scriptural references, we understand Isaiah to have lived during the reigns of Uzziah (768-740 B.C.) and Hezekiah (725-696 B.C.). There is a later tradition that suggests that Isaiah was martyred during the reign of Manasseh (696-641 B.C.). So, he lived sometime between 768 and 641 B.C. The closest window in which we can place Isaiah then is a 127-year period, not an exact date, but close enough for looking at the timing of his prophecies.

As we read earlier, the Assyrian king Sennacherib invaded Judah sometime around 701 B.C. and was subsequently defeated by God when 85,000 of his troops surrounding Jerusalem mysteriously died over night. Eventually, Judah was completely conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar placed a puppet king named Zedekiah on the thrown, and took a number of Judah’s citizens into exile. In 589 B.C. Zedekiah rebelled against Babylon. Finally, in 586 B.C., Judah was once again conquered by Babylon and yet another wave of citizens was taken into captivity. The Davidic line of kings came to an end at that time.

So, where did Cyrus come into the picture? Cyrus, or more precisely Cyrus II, ruled between 559-530 B.C. Cyrus conquered and unified the Persian peoples and then conquered the Medes. In 539 B.C. he invaded Babylon. Within his first year as ruler of Babylon, he issued a decree allowing, and even encouraging, the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild their temple. In his decree allowing the Jews to return Cyrus said:

Ezra 1:2 ESV
“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.”

How did Cyrus know that Jehovah God had given him all the kingdoms of the earth? Remember that Jewish exiles had risen to rather high levels of responsibility within the Babylonian court. Is it possible they shared the prophecies of Isaiah with him? Look at this:

Isaiah 45:1-4 ESV
“Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
whose right hand I have grasped,
to subdue nations before him
and to loose the belts of kings,
to open doors before him
that gates may not be closed:
“I will go before you
and level the exalted places,
I will break in pieces the doors of bronze
and cut through the bars of iron,
I will give you the treasures of darkness
and the hoards in secret places,
that you may know that it is I, the Lord,
the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
For the sake of my servant Jacob,
and Israel my chosen,
I call you by your name,
I name you, though you do not know me.”

Over 100 to 150 years before he was born, God, through Isaiah, named the man who would conquer Babylon and restore His people. He said Cyrus will be my servant even though he does not know me. How amazing is that? Can you imagine reading in the Bible today and seeing your name and a description of what you have just recently done? What if I read something like this in the Bible?

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Bill Hood, whose right hand I have grasped, to write a blog glorifying My Name.”

After I was revived, there is no doubt that I would acknowledge God’s sovereignty! If I had doubts before, they would forever be banished. Is it not amazing how God works? If you doubt that He knows what He is doing, if you doubt that he will accomplish His purpose, then you don’t know God; you don’t know His Word.

Brother, God has had a plan from day one, and everything has proceeded, and is proceeding, according to His plan. He does not make you do anything you don’t choose to do, but He knows what you will choose, and your choices are figured into His plan. He may not have placed your name in the Bible, but He has placed it in His Book of Life. He has chosen you, and He calls you by name. He has a plan for you. What an awesome God we serve!

Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,

Dying to self, living to serve!

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Zephaniah 1-3
Old Testament Only: Psalms 1–5
New Testament Only: Acts 27:13–44


Do You Love God?


The Family Business

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