Isaiah was a Jewish prophet who lived about 600 years before the birth of Jesus. The Hebrews had been in Babylonian captivity for about 70 years when God gave Isaiah a message for King Cyrus. By the way, Cyrus would not be born for another 200 years! Isaiah told Cyrus to send out a decree that the Temple in Jerusalem would be rebuilt and that Jews be allowed to go to Jerusalem to work on the Temple Project. Cyrus did; in fact, send them back with the sacred vessels which had been taken from the first temple by the Babylonians. On top of that, he gave them quite a large sum of money to buy building materials! What’s important to note is that King Cyrus was not an Israelite; he was Syrian. He wasn’t Jewish, either; he was Zoroastrian. God used this pagan king to accomplish his purposes. The book of Isaiah records this extraordinary prophecy to Cyrus. Let’s listen to it:
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." (Isa. 45:1-3)
Wow! Isn’t that an interesting thing for a Jewish prophet to say to a foreign, unbelieving king? Cyrus never became a follower of YAWEH. In fact, during his conquest of Babylon, he even stopped to pay homage at the Temple of the Babylonian god Marduk. Nevertheless, God had something important to say to this king who wasn’t one of His followers. Cyrus was to be part of God’s redemptive plan for His people. Did you know that God can and does use whoever He wants to accomplish His purposes, even if you and I don’t like them? In today’s passage, God tells Cyrus that He will give him “treasures hidden in darkness—secret riches.” Then God tells Cyrus why: “I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” God knows our names. He is God and He knows you and everything about you—He knows you by name. Sometimes our greatest treasures come to us through dark times. Maybe you’re in a dark time right now. If you are, I want you to know that God has treasure hidden for you in your darkness.
God wants to show you who He is. He knows your name and He wants you to know Him...and that's such very Good News!