Bible Study: Isaiah 45:1-25
Today’s Scripture covers a prophecy about Cyrus, King of Persia, and how he would free the Jews.
Isaiah Chapter 45
Lessons from the text
Prophecy or History?
The prophecy concerning Cyrus King of Persia is actually one of controversy among scholars. Many claim that since the details listed are so accurate with what occurred in history, Isaiah could not have written it. After all, who could know the future so precisely?
God says that He has appointed the things that have been, are, and will be. He has plainly told His people the past, present, and future through the Scriptures and prophets. That is God’s claim.
Scholars, critics, and regrettably some Christian academics deny this claim. They take prophecies like the one about Cyrus and draw the conclusion that those versus must have been written after the events occur. The prophets were not foretelling the future; they were commentating on the spiritual implications of the past.
In other words, they fail to believe that God can, and does, predict the future.
The Scriptures must be read with faith. Without it, you cannot expect to perceive them correctly.
If you believe that Jesus is not the Son of God, then no matter how many verses you read stating that He is the Son, you will not be convinced to change your mind. If you want to find something in the Bible, you can find it. There are enough verses that you can take out of context to derive almost any belief or doctrine. That is why to understand the Scriptures, you must be willing to set aside any expectation and read it for what it is; a book. As you read it, let it speak to you, let it form your opinions about God and how He works instead of your opinions forming how you interpret the Scriptures.
When God says that He has from the beginning of time proclaimed the future, consider that He might have done so. Seek it out. Find out if it is true. Don’t immediately discredit the book of Isaiah to a later, historical prophet because events that occur almost one hundred and fifty years after Isaiah’s time are described.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are proof enough of the prophetic nature of God’s word. Sine the Old Testament contains prophecies regarding Jesus Christ, the fact that it was written before Jesus came is hard to dismiss. Jesus fulfilled every prophecy concerning Him found in the Old Testament. It would be hard for a historian to write something that had not yet occurred.
There is proof enough that God is who He says He is, both in character and in deed. He can predict the future because He has done so in the past. If we cannot trust that Isaiah, through God, was able to foresee the future, then we cannot trust the book of Revelation, or Matthew 24, or any of the Scriptures that point to events in the future. God gave us a road map. Let’s trust that He knows what He is talking about. Just believe.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-7 God communicates His prophecy regarding Cyrus King of Persia. Noteworthy is that:
8 God’s goal is for all the earth to bring forth righteousness and salvation. He is a generous God, desiring good for all humanity.
9-10 While God desires everyone to be saved, not all people accept His righteousness. Questioning God’s creation is to make oneself God’s judge, telling Him what He should or should not have created. Humans have no right to critique their Creator.
11-12 God challenges His accusers to try Him. It is a sin to tempt the Lord (Deut 6:16), but not to try Him. Mary asks the lord for proof out of confusion and is accepted, but Zacharias asks for proof out of unbelief and is chastised (Lk 1:18-20, 34-38). God is willing to show Himself to those who are making sure of their faith.
13 A righteous person is not motivated to do good because of a reward or payment. Instead, he does good because it is good.
14 All the rich and haughty will one day come bound by their sins to acknowledge that the Jews have found true salvation. They will be forced to recognize God and His people in whom He dwells.
15 God is hidden to the wicked. Though God is clearly visible through creation (Rom 1:20), the wicked choose not to see Him. Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not (Mt 13:13-14).
16 Choosing to reject God, the nonbelievers will be shocked and ashamed of themselves. They will finally understand how God has been speaking to them, trying to bring them to repentance, and will realize that they have been foolish to ignore Him.
17 Believing on God, Israel will live forever. This is referring to the righteous Jews. As Isa 33:12-16 reveals, people will still be judged according to their belief or unbelief. God has goods will for the nation as a whole but sinners will nonetheless still be accountable for their choices.
18 God will not have created man only to have every one lost. He will redeem people so that His work will not have been in vain.
19 Desiring all to be redeemed, God has not hidden His existence or His plan of salvation. He has not declared how to be delivered from sin without providing a way to perform it. He wants salvation to be easy. Since Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, it is now understood that salvation is simply believing that Jesus is the Christ and the sacrifice for one’s sins. See Romans 10:10-13.
20 God’s grace extends even to those who worship false gods. In fact, those who are unaware of their sin are less condemned that those who know the way of God and yet have not repented (Jn 9:41).
21-22 God wants to reveal Himself to everyone. He says that if one will simply consider His prophecies and consider that He might be real, then one will see the truth in His existence. He challenges all to look upon Him and try His words to see if they are true.
23 See Romans 14:11 and Philippians 2:10-11. Because God is righteous, every person will be forced to see and acknowledge that God reigns and sin is wrong.
24-25 Salvation is found in God alone. As the Creator, He is the only one who can strengthen, justify, and redeem humanity. Verse 25 has been used by some Christians to draw the conclusion that all Jews go to heaven. This view is ungrounded considering Isaiah 33:14: there are clearly sinners among the Jews, and no sinner will enter into heaven (I Cor 6:9-10). This verse is therefore referring to the future time during the Tribulation Period when the nation as a whole will be redeemed. The Jews who are left to see God’s works will turn and glorify Him (Rev 11:13).
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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