↓Audio link to the sermon:(1st worship recording)
(If you can’t listen on your iPhone, please update your iOS)
This is the 10th message from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Last time, we learned from Isaiah 43:4,「(Since) you are precious and honored in my sight, and (because) I love you,…」Salvation is not given by our good deeds. It was God’s will and His work of grace that brought us salvation. Since it is written the will of God in Isaiah 43:25,「“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.」God sees each of us as precious being, and salvation is given to us because of God’s love. Let us proclaim this confession of faith that we are precious in His sight, and we are loved by God. Chapter 44 describes the differences between true God and other idols. The true God is the one who created us, called us, and He prepares redemption for us. Moreover, He chose King Cyrus to bring deliverance from the Babylonian captivity, such prophecy is written in 44:28. Today, we will learn from Chapter 45. Throughout chapter 45, we will learn that God is in control of world history, and He even knows the joys and sorrows of our lives. Now, please read Chapter 45.
Isaiah 45: 1 says,「“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:」Chapter 45 tells the readers that there is only one God who rules history. The name of King Cyrus first appeared in 44:28. It says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and will accomplish all that I please;’ This King Cyrus is the Persian king from Media. In 539 BC he conquered Babylon, which is prophesied in chapters 46-48. The name Cyrus seems to have been a common name for ruler. It is said that the King of Persia from Media learned of Isaiah’s prophecy after establishing his throne, and changed his name to Cyrus. Since Isaiah was a prophet in the 8th century BC, it would be far beyond our imagination to be able to prophesy the Babylonian captivity that would take place more than 100 years later, and even the prophecy of King Cyrus allowing the Israelites to return to Jerusalem. It clearly shows that all these events happen in God’s providence, and we can see that God is in control of history. God is the one who created everything and the one who controls history.
In verses 2-7, it is revealed that God allowed King Cyrus to conquer Babylon. Verse 4 says, 「..I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.」(Isaiah 45:4 NIV) Originally, king Cyrus was a Gentile King, so he didn’t acknowledge the Lord. Yet God summoned him, empowered him, and called him “my shepherd”, and “the anointed one”. Anointing means God’s granting of special abilities for His mission, and it is prophesied that the purpose of which is to rebuild Jerusalem and lay the foundation for the temple as God’s Shepherd. (44:28) And another purpose is for the people of the world to know that God himself has done these things (verse 6). In verse 7, God is described as the one who creates light, darkness, prosperity and disaster. In this world we live in now, there are many things that are both good and bad. But there is nothing that God does not know about. Isaiah tells us that everything happens in God’s permission and that God is the Creator of all.
The God that the Bible teaches us, He knows the joys and sorrows of our lives. How did you meet the God of the Bible personally? For me, I went to church for the first time in high school and believed and accepted Jesus as my savior. As I look back on my life, through prayers, God led me to college, studying abroad, and job opportunities. Furthermore, He led me to marriage and planting the church, and all of these formed me as who I am today. Of course, it has not always been good and easy. Sometimes my faith has grown through pain and sorrow. I believe that it’s the same for each one of you. God has given you help that you needed in the right time, and He has guided you and built your life. The God who is in control of the history of the world, is the one who can also guide and build your life.
Verse 14 prophecies that people from other nations including Egypt will come over to Israel, they will bow down saying, ‘Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god.’ ”」They see the true God through the way the Israelites were given help and liberated by God. Moreover, it is prophesied that they will worship God, the creator together with Israel. The time is yet to come. As we understand this prophecy is going to come true at the end time, we will be able to start praying for the blessing over Israel.
We start praying for Israel to encounter Christ and be transformed. At the time of the Second Coming of Christ, many peoples of the whole world will worship God with Israel. Let us have hope in that promise and look forward to that day.
In verses 20-25, Isaiah calls on the fugitives from the nations. Fugitives are those who have been harassed by politicians and policymakers. Isaiah calls on people of the whole world. This word is an invitation of salvation for the Gentiles. The people of nations will see Israel, the people of God who are delivered from Babylon. As they see the God of Israel who delivered His people, they will look upon the righteous God, the existence of the Savior. God speaks to Gentiles all over the world. He speaks to them in verse 22, “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22 NIV) He calls the believers of the whole world “the descendants of Israel” and says that they are justified by the Lord (verse 25). The descendants of Israel are the people of the true covenant chosen by God.
Now we have accepted the atonement for our sins given by Christ on the cross. We are made justified before God. All of these are given according to God’s plan and the work of God who works beyond history, so let us remember His work and give thanks to Him.