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Isaiah 45:1-13

Lord of the nations and history

Introduction: Is God really in control?

The assumption of mission work is that God id in control: He acts to save.

Mission work assumes that we’re doing something worthwhile, that YHWH is the Lord of History – Sometimes seems impossible to believe.

Believing six impossible things before breakfast? (White Queen in Alice through the Looking Glass)

Are we being asked to believe the impossible? (Believing God is in control)

The chaos of history – now and then.
Then: How the world seemed to Israel in exile – had chaotic history, defeated, exiled.

Now: Christians killed etc..

Can God – and His purposes – stand in this kind of history?

God is sovereign of history – including Babylon, the biggest empire the world had ever seen, had many rivals (including between gods).

YHWH’s surpassing sovereignty

YHWH is sovereign over history and the nations – including Babylon! (v. 1-3)

History is chaotic here yet God is in control.

Cyrus invaded Babylon, and it fell almost bloodlessly – Not expected by Israel, Babylon was the biggest and strongest empire -

(Cyrus took Babylon, after taking Medes, coast and whole region, in only three days! How know one really knows. Three accounts. (1) Bible [Daniel]: The king was partying, the night there was the writing on the wall, and that night Cyrus walked in; (2) Heroditus: Guards opened the main gates to let Cyrus in [King had not been there for the VERY IMPORTANT new year festival – described in notes on ch. 46 – so many people hated him, plus for other reasons]; (3) Another account says that the gates at the main river were left open [accidentally or on purpose] and Cyrus marched in through there. All three could be true).

- But it would have also seemed just like a switch from one captor to another – Would have just appeared as chaotic history to Israel.

(Cyrus was the king of Persia. He conquered the Medes within 10 years of coming to power [Median general was sent by the Median king to stop Cyrus from passing through Mede. The king had before this killed the general’s son. The general marched up to Cyrus and turned his army over to him, the general becoming Cyrus’ right-hand-man, helping him in very tricky situations – eg camels stopping Lidean’s {king-Croesus} famed cavalry]. He made the Mede-Persian empire which spanned from Greece to India [including Babylon which he conquered] When he conquered Babylon he sent home all people exiled there [including Israel] and sent home the nations’ stuff in the name of their gods (start of Ezra) – he did not worship these gods.)

v. 2: God is speaking to Cyrus, but Israel gets the Book – indirect communication to Israel.

YHWH is sovereign over all things (v. 7; c/f v. 12)

v. 7: YHWH is sovereign over all happenings in history, even DISASTER.

v. 12: YHWH created the whole universe and placed everything in the position it is in.

Therefore the exile is God at work.

YHWH’s surprising sovereignty

YHWH’s past action – salvation through Israel; judgement through nations.

YHWH’s primary action in the past is to save Israel (Egypt etc.), Judges nations, Egypt…

YHWH’s new action – Cyrus, the saviour! (vv. 1-3, 4-5)

Israel didn’t like foreigners – unclean, evil… But God uses Cyrus to save Israel – he was a pagan! He did not worship God (he attributed his victory over Babylon to Mardok, his gods.. He never worshiped YHWH!)

Questioning a sovereign God? (vv. 9-13)

v. 1: YHWH ANOINTED Cyrus! (Only Israelites were anointed – as kings, priests etc)

Israel questioning God anointing a pagan! – This upset them, YHWH as a holy God anointing someone who does not recognise Him. This is against their theological thinking.

YHWH’s saving sovereignty

YHWH’s sovereignty is not pointless power: it has a purpose

He is not just flexing His muscles for the sake of it, His power has purpose.

YHWH’s saving purpose (vv. 4, 13)

v. 13: YHWH is Sovereign, doing things His way to save Israel.

YHWH’s public saving purpose (v. 6)

Demonstrates His is trustworthy.

Showing in public that YHWH is Lord over History.

By bringing His people back to their land He shows His purpose is revealed, fulfilled. God acted through His people.

Conclusion – trusting a sovereign, saving God

YHWH’s trustworthy sovereignty seen in Israel’s history

Cyrus has not yet invaded and released them. Israel is told to trust Him in the puzzle of history.

v. 14: All nations bowing down before Israel – has not happened yet.

Also: Ch. 54: Jews immune from attack, and Israel being sinful no more (neither has happened yet).

Still – the puzzle of history (v. 15)

Even in this God is still a hidden God, His deepest actions we can’t see straight off.

2Cor. 1:15-22: God’s promises are "yes" (done), and "amen" (to be done).

Jesus and the pattern of YHWH’s sovereignty (Col. 2:15)

Victory through a death.

Trust in action – God’s mission in the world.

Trust, empowers us to act.

He has demonstrated (in puzzling ways) that He is in control.