45:1 “Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
2 ‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
4 For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
5 I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
6 That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other...
That Cyrus existed there is no doubt. He took Babylon in 539, and a clay cylinder was inscribed and buried in the city wall when he had it rebuilt detailing his exploits etc... This cylinder was found in 1879 and is currently in the British Museum.
Here's the thing. If Cyrus was conquering Babylon in 539, where was he in 720 B.C. when Isaiah wrote about him? Simple. He wasn't born yet. His father and mother weren't born either nor likely his grandparents. How could Isaiah predict that mighty Babylon would fall and the name of the man who would do it that far in advance? He couldn't. There is only One who knows such things and that is precisely the point.
What can we learn from this ancient history lesson?
1, When times are dark God ensures the light will return. Imagine what it did for the faith of people like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to read from a prophet who died before they were born the name of the man who conquered the nation that ripped them from their homes, likely killed their parents, and dragged them off to Babylon. For them it was neither ancient history nor murky future. It was their life. They were living the unfolding of prophecy as outlined by the only God who had ever or could ever do such things. Today He wants us to know what He foretold so we can find our place in the unfolding Story of prophecy and trust Him with the boldness of Daniel.
2, God is global. At a time in history when gods were local and national the Living God knew no borders. Remember when Naaman the Syrian general got leprosy and traveled to see Elisha for healing? What you may not remember is the end of the story, a part that rarely gets told. Naaman took a load of dirt from Israel back to Syria so he could worship the God of Israel from home. It seems silly to us by Naaman believed God's were local and national. The Jews became deceived into the same thinking even though from the start it was never so. God had told Abraham that in the coming Seed all the nations of the world would be blessed. Now as Judah is about to enter a very dark period God again stretches their thinking. He will use a foreign idol worshipping king as His shepherd. He calls Cyrus "My servant". That's mind bending for a Jew.
3, God is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. He is as active in the Muslim world as in the Christian world. He is as active in the Roman Catholic world as in the Protestant world. He is as active in the Hindu world as in the Seventh-day Adventist world. The Story stretches to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. He has servants in the most unlikely places. He provides deliverance through the most unlikely means. Expect the unexpected. God had a global village long before we ever used the term.