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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Isaiah 45

Verses 1-8

Cyrus Called by the LORD

This chapter begins with a second message from the LORD about Cyrus (Isa 45:1). The first message is a prophecy foretelling His coming (Isa 44:28). Now it is a word to him personally. He is a heathen ruler, but the LORD has taken his right hand, indicating that he is an instrument in the hand of the LORD, although he is not at all aware of being subject to a higher power (Isa 45:5). This is a world of difference with Asaph, who is aware that the LORD has seized his right hand (Psa 73:23).

The titles granted to him and the provisions made for him are unique. Something similar has never been said of any heathen ruler. He is called the ‘anointed’ of the LORD, that is literally ‘messiah’. Earlier the LORD has already called him “My shepherd” (Isa 44:28). The fact that Isaiah uses the title ‘anointed’ for a heathen ruler will have amazed the Jews. After all, it is a title reserved for priests, prophets and kings of Israel. But why now someone from the nations? That is precisely the message of God, that He is not only the God of Israel, but of the entire world. He can use whoever He wants and save whoever He wants.

The LORD will use Cyrus and pave his way by removing all obstacles before him. He will be able to penetrate everywhere (Isa 45:2; cf. Isa 40:4). Through his conquests he will obtain immense riches (Isa 45:3). The redemption brought about by Cyrus is a prelude to the redemption that the Lord Jesus, the true Anointed of God, the Messiah, will bring about at His return.

The details of Isa 45:1-3 are given in the prophecy of the prophet Daniel. There it is Darius who takes Babylon, but behind him we see the rising power of Cyrus. We see how Belshazzar is deprived of all power, how the gates of Babylon are broken open, with the result that all hidden treasures end up in the hands of Cyrus (Dan 5:25-30).

The LORD will do the same, that Cyrus may come to the acknowledgment that He has led him and given him that prosperity. He does not seem to have come to that acknowledgment. Nevertheless, he will receive all that wealth and prosperity because, without knowing it himself, he is the deliverer of God’s people who delivers them from exile in Babylon (Isa 45:4; Ezra 1:1-4). The confirmation that it is the LORD and no one else (cf. 1Cor 8:4b-6) to Whom he owes his prosperity is in Isa 45:5. The goal the LORD has in mind is that one will know on the whole earth that He alone is the true and only God (Isa 45:6). The restoration that Cyrus will grant to God’s people must have this result.

“Light” and “darkness” are in God’s hand (Isa 45:7). In the creation of light (Gen 1:3), the creation of darkness, although not explicitly stated, is contained. Light is said to be good (Gen 1:4). This is not said of darkness. What we do read, however, is that God, when He sees everything He has made, including darkness, saw that it was very good (Gen 1:2-5; 31). This presupposes that the darkness is not something negative, because the darkness has been given a function by God (cf. Psa 104:19-24). God, Who in His creation has given a place to darkness, which is not evil in itself, can use the darkness after the fall into sin to symbolize something evil with it. Thus, He Who is exalted above all things can cause “well-being” where there is discontent, but can also create “calamity” and bring it as punishment on sin (cf. Isa 10:5-12).

In the same way, God does not make man wicked, but when he reveals himself in this way, God knows how to use him for His purpose (Pro 16:4; Amos 3:6b). Here it is about wars with their terrible consequences, as Cyrus will fight them, and the well-being that will come from them for Israel.

In Isa 45:8 the declaration of Isa 45:7 focuses on salvation and follows the assurance that the LORD will establish righteousness on earth as a blessing from heaven. Thus righteousness will also be produced on earth. Here again in Cyrus we can recognize a type of Christ, the King of righteousness, the true Melchizedek Who will come.

Verses 9-13

The LORD Is the Maker

In Isa 45:9 the word is no longer addressed to Cyrus, but to those who criticize the actions of the LORD. They are not satisfied with the course of events. How can God use a man like Cyrus? But God says: ‘Woe, how dare you criticize My government?’ “Woe” is a cry that is proclaimed at funerals, a cry that shows the seriousness of the matter. He who complains about God is nothing more than an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth. It is reminiscent of a bowl or jug of pottery that has broken and the shards of which can only be swept together to be thrown away.

Surely it is supreme folly that a potter would be told by the thing he makes that he is not doing well, isn’t it (Rom 9:20-21)? Just as foolish is it when someone blames his father and mother for a birth to which he himself has not contributed or cannot contribute anything (Isa 45:10). God is not only the Creator of all matter, but He is also the Origin of human life. Such fools would do better to put really everything in the hands of the LORD and to trust without contradiction Him Who alone can be trusted, both for the present and for the future (Isa 45:11).

He made everything and everything is completely dependent on Him (Isa 45:12). Likewise, He also aroused Cyrus and destined and paved the way for him in view of the goal He has set Himself (Isa 45:13). Cyrus will rebuild the city of Jerusalem and no one else. He will do so because the LORD wants it and not because an agreement has been made whereby the LORD should pay for the redemption of His people. All haughty, stupid objections will not change the LORD’s purpose. Through Cyrus the LORD will bring His people there.

The Lord also gives us restoration to function as a church in the way He sees fit and with the means He chooses and not in our foolish way. From this portion we may find the confirmation for our hearts that everything is under the control of the Maker of heaven and earth and that His purposes towards the nations are inviolable. This affirmation will also be helpful in helping others who wonder if God will finally be stronger than His enemies and if He will still provide relief.

Verse 14

Only God Is With Israel

In this verse the message of the LORD of the near future concerning Cyrus passes to the restoration of Israel in the end time. The redemption through Cyrus, as we have seen before, is a foretaste of the redemption of Israel through Christ in the future, at the end of the great tribulation. The facts mentioned here did not take place in the past. They will only take place at the return of Christ. Nations will voluntarily submit to Israel and give up their idolatry. This will happen by acknowledging that only God is with them and no other God. Then also the promise of the covenant will be fulfilled that Israel will be the head of the nations of the world (Deu 28:13).

This verse finds its parallel for us in 1 Corinthians 14 (1Cor 14:25; cf. Rev 3:9), where the apostle Paul probably has these words of Isaiah in mind. The Lord wants what will be true for Israel in the future day to be true for us now. The purpose of our testimony is to build up, to confirm. It is God’s good pleasure for local churches to draw the souls of ignorant and unbelieving people to Christ. The Spirit of God wants to work in and through us collectively to make such people aware of the presence of God and to become true worshipers.

Verses 15-17

Idol Worshipers Put to Shame

In Isa 45:15 Israel is speaking and not the heathens as in the previous verse. It is not an expression of a groping for a God Who cannot be found because He has turned away from them (cf. Isa 57:17), but that God in His actions and government as far as the nations are concerned is often untraceable. He does things which are hidden from people, but which He makes known to His people. The human mind cannot understand Him in this.

Israel will be most surprised to see that nations who have walked in the darkness of heathenism will come to them and acknowledge that God is with them. It is as if Israel is saying: ‘Truly, You have acted in a wonderful way, in a way that far surpasses our thinking.’ It recalls the apostle’s exclamation about the depths of the riches of God’s knowledge and wisdom that follows the rendering of mercy to both Israel and the Gentiles (Rom 11:32-33). Israel addresses Him as “Savior” because they will see in Him in the realm of peace the Savior Who redeemed both Israel and the nations.

To conclude the part that began in Isaiah 44:6, there is the enormous difference between the fate of the creators of idols and the infinite blessing of Israel (Isa 45:16-17). Of all that God does, the idolaters and manufacturers of idols and soothsayers know nothing. They are all put to shame. It ends with the great result of all God’s actions to which the prophets have pointed: the deliverance, glory and joy of Israel without end. Here again the prophet points forward to the distant future, for the redemption from Babylon is not eternal redemption.

Verses 18-19

The Work of the LORD

In Isa 45:18 the LORD is introduced as Speaker. First it is brought up again that He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He has been shaping the earth, “formed”, and has finished His work, “made”. He did not create the earth so that it would remain waste or formless and void (Gen 1:2). God creates order in what is waste or formless and void. He does not do half the work, but completes what He once started (cf. Phil 1:6).

The creation of the earth, its formation and completion, is not an end in itself. With its creation, God has man in mind. So it is with the formation and redemption of His people. The LORD has started once with the formation of the people of Israel, He will also complete that work. He does this by redeeming Israel. In Babylon it is a mess and many of the Jews took part in that mess and idolatry. The LORD is going to change that. He wants to bring His people in the full enjoyment of the blessing. The earth will then be inhabited in the way God intended in creation. This will be fulfilled in the realm of peace.

From the end of Isa 45:18 to the end of the chapter the LORD is speaking. He begins by confirming what has just been said, that He and only He is the LORD. He has not spoken in secret, as the soothsayers and sorcerers do from the dark realm of the abyss where spiritists and necromancers dwell (Isa 45:19). God does not ask to seek Him without expecting anything. On the contrary, when He invites to seek Him, He speaks what is right. He is completely reliable and not unreliable like the soothsayers.

He gives promises to those who seek Him. “He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb 11:6). He fulfills His promises according to His righteousness: He speaks “righteousness”. He does not fool anyone. His word is certain, reliable, you can rely on it. All His promises to His earthly people will be fulfilled, as well as all the promises we have received (2Cor 1:20).

Verses 20-21

The Idols and the LORD

As in Isa 45:14-17, the restoration of Israel is followed by offering blessing to the nations. These nations that have escaped judgment on the world and been brought into the realm of peace have not been worshipers of the beast for those nations have all been wiped out by judgment (Isa 45:20; Rev 14:9-11).

It is not about Israelites who have escaped the nations – which might suggest “fugitives of the nations” – but nations who have escaped the judgments that have been exercised on them. They are again summoned by God in a lawsuit to make a verdict.

In the light of that future blessing, God resumes His protest against their idols and once again says how foolish it is to expect redemption from an idol. Nor can these idols say anything about future things, something that God challenges them to do in order to make clear their utter inability to do so (Isa 45:21). Only He is capable of this and no one else is.

He alone is both the righteous and the redeeming God. As the righteous God He must and will judge sin. As the redeeming God, He redeems by His Son, Who has fulfilled His righteous demands by submitting to judgment for everyone who confesses to be a sinner.

The God of Israel is the God Who created heaven and earth. Therefore He is the only true God. Therefore He also is the Only One Who is able to redeem Israel. For the nations, this is another call to recognize the God of Israel and thereby participate in the blessings of the peace empire together with the people of Israel (Rev 14:6-7).

Verses 22-25

With the LORD Is Righteousness

The statement of God in the lawsuit concerning Himself in the preceding verse is followed by the commanding invitation to the nations to turn to Him for salvation (cf. Mt 11:28). In this way one will receive the blessings of the realm of peace (Isa 45:22). For the third time He declares: “I am God, and there is no other.” After His glorious presentation in Isa 45:21 as “a righteous God and a Savior” which He wants to be for Jew and Gentile, He solemnly declares by swearing an oath that the moment will come when He will be acknowledged worldwide as God (Isa 45:23). This will happen in the millennial realm of peace.

Bowing the knee speaks of acknowledging and submitting to the authority of the LORD as opposed to bowing the knee before the idols and acknowledging their authority. The names of the idols will be eradicated (Zec 13:2). Confession with the tongue indicates consent to the infallibility and righteousness of His judgment. That this word will not be turned back means that there will be no failure to fulfill what has been spoken (cf. Isa 55:11).

Paul quotes this verse in connection with an evil quality of us as believers that we judge others so easily (Rom 14:10-12). Through this verse of Isaiah he is already placing us, as it were, before the judgment seat of God. When we think of the judgment seat of God before which we will be standing in the future, we would like to live as if we are standing before it now. Then we would like to be accountable to God right now, at this very moment.

The result of this thought is that we will come to the conclusion that we should not (any longer) judge each other. We will then leave that to God. Each person will bow down before God and acknowledge Him as God. That makes us very small. From another quote Paul makes from this verse it is clear that the Lord Jesus is the One to Whom every knee will bow (Phil 2:10). This is another proof that the Lord Jesus is God.

The great acknowledgment in the future day is that everything can only be found with and in the LORD (Isa 45:24-25). He will be acknowledged and accepted in all His attributes, power and actions. In these verses the emphasis is repeatedly placed on God’s righteousness as the basis of His actions. In Isa 45:21 it is righteousness and salvation. Here it is righteousness and strength (Isa 45:24). Strength comes only when we walk in righteousness, in a righteous way before Him. From all sides of the world men will come to Him, but those who are angry at Him will be put to shame.

The offspring of Israel will be justified, not by works of the law, but “in the LORD” (Isa 45:25). They will joyfully acknowledge their Messiah in Him through their connection with Him. In Him they will boast and not in their own exaltation and power. And Israel will have a spiritual offspring, descendants who are all justified by the atoning sacrifice on Calvary.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Isaiah 45". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.