Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 133

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 133

The Lord has been setting forth all He will do for Cyrus of Persia, the man He chose before his birth to set the captive people of Judah free from Babylon. The Lord has proclaimed to Cyrus, and to all the people, that He alone is God. He sets up kings and takes down kings. He makes nations rise and fall. And He makes His righteousness fall like rain on us, even though we are unworthy.

"You heavens above, rain down My righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it." (Isaiah 45:8) The God who sends rain on the earth is also able to send revival to our souls. He alone is righteous, making Him the only One who can obtain salvation for us.

Before this awesome Creator and sustainer of life, we should reverently bow. When confronted with His uncompromising righteousness, we should seek to live lives that honor Him. "Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'The potter has no hands?' Woe to the one who says to a father, 'What have you begotten?' or to a mother, 'What have you brought to birth?'" (Isaiah 45:9-10) Isaiah is saying, "Man, who do you think you are? Woman, who do you think made you? All of us are like broken and useless potsherds lying on the ground. We are powerless within ourselves. We must look to our Maker who created us, for only He can put us back together again." 

Some commentators believe the people of Judah murmured angrily against God after learning He had chosen a pagan king to be their deliverer. They questioned His methods. They doubted His motives. They disrespected His choice. And perhaps verses 9 and 10 above, along with the following verses, were a rebuke to them for questioning whether He had their best interests at heart. "This is what the Lord says---the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question Me about My children, to give Me orders about the work of My hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will raise up Cyrus in My righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild My city and set My exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 45:11-13)

As the Maker of all things, God has authority over the creation. He chooses whom He will, as we studied yesterday. Cyrus had his own religion and did not know the God of Israel, but unlike God's people who went into captivity because of their sins, he was willing to listen to this God and obey Him. Cyrus, a pagan king from a foreign land, would do God's will when even the Lord's own people had not done His will. At times they had denied the very existence of God, saying, "The potter has no hands", which means something like, "Nobody created me." At other times they forsook the Lord in favor of pagan idols, quarreling with their Maker, being offended by Him and His ways. But when the Lord calls the name of Cyrus, he will step up to the plate. And this is God's business. It's His business who He chooses, whether believer or heathen. I tend to think the captives would have grumbled against God even if He had chosen a righteous man to set them free. They grumbled against Jesus Christ, the holy and sinless Lamb of God, didn't they? And lest anyone think I'm being critical against the nation of Israel, I want to point out that we all have sinned and fallen short. We all have denied our Maker and gone our own way from time to time. We all, in some sense, have said when we were in sin, "We don't want this Man to be our King." (Luke 19:14b) None of us has the right to look down on anyone else, for we all were lost in our sins and caught in our own trap at one time or another. 

I think it's fitting that this passage from Isaiah falls on election day. According to the words of the prophet Daniel, God is in control of all leaders and all nations. "He changes times and seasons; He deposes kings and raises up others." (Daniel 2:21a) We may not always like His choice, because He may not always choose who we think is the best man or woman. He may not always choose a leader who is a believer or even a good person. But we can be certain there is a reason behind His choice and there is a purpose He is going to serve through this choice. In the Bible we find the Lord raising up wicked leaders in order to bring discipline upon His people. At other times we find the Lord raising up godly leaders, such as King David or King Hezekiah or King Josiah, in order to bring blessing upon His people. At yet other times we find Him raising up a good man like Cyrus, who was not a believer but who was a moral person and a human rights advocate, in order to bring justice to the people. I don't know how our election today will turn out, or whether the Lord intends to shower blessings upon us or discipline us with hardship, but we can rest assured that our God is the real King and the real power behind every throne. He chooses whom He will for His own purposes and we must trust that His plan is good. Let's not grumble against Him for his choice as the people of Judah may have grumbled against His choice of Cyrus. The best thing we can do is obey the Scriptures, which command that "petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people---for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior." (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

There is power in prayer. No matter which man or woman wins the title of President of the United States today, our duty as Christians is to pray for that person. We need to pray that this person's ears are open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and that his/her eyes are open to the existence and power of an Almighty God. Can He not move the heart of our leader to do what is good and right? Let's pray like we've never prayed before for whoever wins the election. God is able to change hearts and minds, which is why He has commanded us to pray for our leaders. God once called a pagan man named Cyrus, a man who did not know Him, to shower blessings upon His people. Can He not do great things like this again?

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