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Much is said in this chapter of Cyrus, king of Persia: but much more of Jesus, King of Zion. It is spoken by way of prophecy in the first relation to Babylon, but in the more direct reference to the redemption by Christ.
This is a most remarkable portion of the holy scripture, and very highly merits our attention. The Lord here speaks of a man, and a stranger too, not one of Israel, and calls him by his name, at least 200 years before the events predicted of him were to be fulfilled. In the history to which this portion of the prophecy refers, we find the conquest of Babylon exactly answering. Profane historians relate that Cyrus entered Babylon, by means of a subterraneous passage, opening from the river by two-leaved gates, and at a time when from the strength of the city and its walls, the king was carousing in full confidence of safety. Sacred history also bears testimony to the same in the corresponding account; See Daniel 5:30; Daniel 5:30 . But what is yet more important for us to remark, is what the Lord saith concerning the cause of this ruin. The Church's salvation was the one sole object, and in the very moment that the Lord raised up Cyrus, as his instrument for this purpose, Cyrus himself knew not the Lord. I pray the Reader to make this the practical improvement from this scripture; and never to lose sight of the Lord's design, in the Lord's appointment of men and things. How often, in the present hour, are men made the unconscious ministers of God for good to his people, although their heart thought not so, neither did they intend it. Think, Reader, from such a view as this, and which is every day going on in the world, how dear to Jesus his Church is!
It is most blessed to read those scriptures, in which Jehovah takes to himself his supreme sovereignty. A believing soul finds great delight in the contemplation. For, in the first place, the self-existing and eternal nature of Jehovah becomes the security of the Church in Jesus; and, in the next place, those divine attributes become the pledge and assurance for the fulfillment of all the divine engagements to the Church in Jesus. And, Reader! do not overlook, the sweet spiritual instruction given to us in those relations of Jehovah: if the Lord be alone the self-existing and eternal Jehovah; and if both light and darkness are of his creation; to whom shall we look for spiritual light, to illumine the darkness of our poor souls, blinded by the fall, but to him who alone can command the light to shine out of darkness? Oh! thou, who at the first creation saidst, Let there be light, and there was light, command the light, in the new creation of the souls of thy people, to shine out of darkness in their hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ! 2 Corinthians 4:6 .
Is not this the Lord's command? And ought not the faithful to form their earnest prayers upon it? Reader, I would say, for myself and for you, doth a gracious God in Christ command grace to drop as the dew upon the souls of his redeemed, and is Jesus himself come down us rain upon the mown grass? Oh! then for grace to say, "Lord, be it unto us according to thy word! Come, Lord, with all thy blessed influences upon our souls, and be thou to us all we need; wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, that all our glorying may be in the Lord!" Psalms 72:6 ; Micah 5:7 ; 1 Corinthians 1:30 ; James 1:17
How beautiful and striking is this figure of the potsherd, to shed the folly and danger of finding fault with God. Earthen vessels, struck one against another, will break; contentions among men are foolish; but contention against God, in any of his dispensations, of nature, providence, or grace, is madness itself. Equally senseless would be the expostulating of a child to its parent, concerning its being. What can a sinful father beget, but a sinful child; or a polluted mother bring forth, but pollution also? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Precious Jesus! how blessed dost thou appear in every view, when, in the consciousness of our corrupt state, we feel the need of that fountain which the soldier's spear opened in thy side, for sin and for uncleanness! Zechariah 13:1 .
Perhaps in all the Bible there is not a passage equal to this for showing the Lord's graciousness at his mercy-seat. The expression seems as if the Lord had thrown the reins of government into the hands of his people, that they might not only ask, but command. We meet with very many passages, wherein the highest encouragement is given to poor petitioners in Jesus's name; but here the Lord saith, Command me! It is indeed a most blessed and high proof of the gracious manner with which God in Christ treats his people on his throne, and ought to be our constant encouragement, now we have such an advocate as Jesus with the Father, whom the Father heareth always, that we may come boldly to the throne of grace, to obtain mercy, and find grace to help, in all time of need. But, Reader! do not overlook what characters they are, of whom this is said, and to whom it is spoken: it is concerning any sons, saith the Lord. Yea, Lord! it is because, in Jesus, thy people are sons, that thou hast sent forth the Spirit of thy Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father! when a father, and especially God our Father, hears the voice of his child in prayer, calling in Jesus's name, what will he withhold? Joh_14:13-14; Joh_16:24 ; Galatians 4:6 ; Hebrews 4:16 .
Was there ever a more blessed and gracious proclamation made by God the Father, concerning the person, work, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, than what is contained in these words? To read this verse with reference to Cyrus, as some have done, is to enervate the passage sadly, and endanger the mind to overlook the one great object intended. For after allowing all that may be said of Cyrus, as God's instrument and servant, in delivering the Church from the oppressions they underwent in Babylon; still the temporal mercies then shown are, so inconsiderable, compared to the everlasting and eternal redemption from sin, death, and hell by the Lord Jesus Christ, that they are not worthy to be mentioned. And surely it is to this, all along, that God the Father refers as the one great object of all salvation, which, is to glorify his dear Son. Reader! keep, I pray you, your eyes steadily fixed upon the glorious person of Jesus. Hear what God the Father, even the Lord of hosts saith, in this blessed verse; that it is he who hath raised him up, called him, appointed him, anointed him, and blessed him, as thy Redeemer. He, Jehovah alone, directed, ordered, and crowned with success all that Christ did in salvation. Behold the Lord Jesus, in all this, building his Church, and delivering all his people; and all without money and without price; and then fall down on thy knees, crying out, with the Apostle: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift; 2 Corinthians 9:15 .
As the former verse contains the proclamation of Jehovah concerning the person and work of his dear Son, God-man Mediator; so in this, he as graciously proclaims the blessed consequences of his offices and labours. And we have lived to see in part, and to partake also in the blessings of this grace, when, as Gentiles, we have been brought by sovereign grace to call Jesus our Lord. And the hour is hastening, when the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever. Revelation 11:15 ; Malachi 1:11 ; Psalms 72:1-20 etc.
What a beautiful contrast is here drawn, between the Lord Jehovah, in his plan of grace and salvation, and the trumpery of idol-worship. Reader! you and I shall do well to keep in remembrance what the Lord saith in this sweet promise, of his people's salvation: Israel shall be saved, Put this down as a truth, eternally settled and fixed. Next, mark the endless and unceasing nature of it, like the Lord himself who hath promised: it shall be with, an everlasting salvation. Next, take special notice of the cause and method: Israel shall be saved in the Lord. Not in Israel's worth; not in Israel's labour; salvation is wholly of the Lord, and in the Lord. Lastly, behold the confidence which a conscious interest in Jesus, and salvation by Jesus, must beget; Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end. W as there ever anything more gracious! Did ever anything attach itself more earnestly to the very souls of men? What four huge volumes for a poor redeemed sinner are here given to him in a short verse, to read to his own heart, and to preach to other poor sinners around, forever? Blessed be Jehovah the speaker! Blessed be Jehovah the fulfiller! And blessed be Jehovah the Creator of faith in the heart of the hearer, in giving grace to believe the record that God hath given of his dear Son. See again Isaiah 45:5-6 . Philippians 1:29 .
It is blessed to observe, when God is at anytime proposing mercies to his people, how the Lord introduceth his gracious promise with the declaration of his own glorious character, lest the greatness of the blessing proposed should overwhelm the mind and excite fear, as if the promise were too great to be believed. In this place, to encourage the seed of Jacob, who are always supposed to be a praying people, against any apprehension, and lest their conscious sense of sin should keep them back from the throne of grace; Jehovah takes to himself his own glorious distinction of character. He that originally created all things, will create grace in the heart of his people; and the prayer that he awakens in grace, he will hear, and answer in mercy. The Prophet, under the spirit of prophecy, describes the Lord Jesus Christ in the days of his flesh, as proving this blessed truth; Psalms 27:8 ; Hebrews 5:7-9 . Reader! never lose sight of this in all your approaches to the throne.
I have often read, and I hope with increasing pleasure and profit, the blessedness of the union here made, and by Jehovah himself, of his own glorious attributes, as manifested in the work of redemption:, A just God and a Saviour. Here is, at once, an everlasting distinction made between the true God, and the whole tribe of dunghill-deities. Nothing, in all the code of idol-worship, proposed such an assemblage, as that of blending justice with salvation: and it is only in the person and work of Jesus, that such views are discoverable. In him, mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other, Psalms 85:10 . So that the justice of God is strikingly set forth in punishing sin; and his salvation as blessedly set forth in pardoning the sinner. Reader! what comfort is there in this view of God in Christ, to a poor perishing sinner, under all the alarms of a guilty conscience! And how true is that scripture, which saith, God can be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, Romans 3:26 .
If this gracious invitation of Jesus, to look unto him, were proclaimed every day from the house-top, yea, from heaven itself, it would not be more sure, nor certain, nay, not so much so as now it is, in the blessed word of God's grace. And yet who is there that regards it? God the Father commends it, Isaiah 42:1 , etc. The Son of God commends it, Isaiah 65:1-2 . God the Holy Ghost commends it, John 1:29 . But, alas! we may take up the words of the Prophet, and say, as he did, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Isaiah 53:1 . Precious Jesus! give to him that writes, and to him that reads, the hearing ear and the seeing eye, that we may hear the voice of the Son of God, and live; John 3:14-15 . And what at a blessed consequence is said in this scripture to result from such lookings unto Jesus, and living upon him: Surely, shall one say, yea, everyone whom the Lord the Spirit hath brought off from all legal frames and self-righteousness; none but such will say it, and everyone of this character must say it: In the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Yes; for it is in the Lord, and not in myself that I have it. For I have it not in any natural, not in any spiritual, not in any acquired strength: I have it not in anything wrought by me; not in my zeal; not in my endeavours; yea, not what is wrought in me; but wholly in the Lord. Oh! blessed distinction, between what some injudicious persons would fondly call inherent holiness, and the Lord's righteousness. Jesus is indeed made of God to his people, wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption; but still it is Jesus that is all these, and is so made to his people; and not in themselves or their own attainments. Oh! the preciousness of Jesus, whose very name is as ointment poured forth. Lord! be it my portion, with all the seed of Israel, to be justified in thee, and by thee: and be thou my glory, that I may go forth in thy strength, making mention of thy righteousness, even thine only. Psalms 71:15-16; Psalms 71:15-16 .
PONDER over this lovely Chapter, my soul, again and again, not dismiss the sweet meditation, until the Holy Ghost hath written the blessed contents of it in thine inmost affection. Behold the Lord's love to Israel, in preparing the Church, during so many years, for their temporal deliverer; and calling him by his name, Cyrus, before Cyrus was even born. Then turn thy thoughts to the Lord Jesus Christ, and contemplate the grace of God the Father, in the appointment and proclamation of him, the glorious spiritual deliverer of his redeemed, from all eternity. Thou, O blessed Jesus, hast indeed opened the two-leaved gates; yea, the everlasting gates of heaven and salvation, and made thy people joyful, and the loins of thine enemies to be smitten asunder! Thou hast made known thy sovereignty and power, and manifested that thou art God, and that there is none else beside thee, a just God and a Saviour!
And now, thou blessed Lord! having made peace by the blood of thy cross, to reconcile all things to thyself, dost thou open a new and living way by thy blood, and ever livest to keep it open by thine intercession? Yea, precious Jesus! dost thou so endear a throne of grace to thy people, as to assure us, that the works of thine hands are subject to the prayers of thy saints: that whatsoever shall be for thy glory and their good, they may command, and it shall be done! Oh! for grace to lie lower and lower in the dust before God, in proportion as the riches of thy grace are made manifest to the soul, that while the Lord exalts his people, they may humble themselves.
I dare not, Lord! dismiss this precious chapter, without first seeking for grace to convert thy command into a prayer, that while thou biddest me to look unto thee, my soul may feel the grace going forth into lively exercise, so to look to Jesus, as to have mine eyes enlightened, and to rest by faith upon Jesus, until my whole soul be warmed into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Jesus Christ! Blessed Lord! I do pray, that mine eyes, mine heart, my whole soul and body and spirit, yea, all the faculties thou hast given me, may bow in love, and grace, and praise, and prayer, before thee. Let all the earth witness for me; yea, all the powers of heaven, that to thee my knee bows; before thee my whole nature joyfully bends. Surely in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. In the Lord do all my powers find justification, and glory, in Christ here, and in Christ to all eternity. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 45". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter