Saturday, October 17, 2015

Devotional Thought : Isaiah 44:28

…who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid."' Isaiah 44:28

God used a pagan king, Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and temple. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, when Cyrus was informed of this prophesy he desired to fulfil it. It was unprecedented and unexpected. What king frees people who have been captured and sends them back to rebuild their city? Most kings would worry about them becoming a future threat.

Isaiah was prophesying long before these people were taken into captivity in Babylon in fact this prophesy was given about 190 years before it happened. Some commentators struggle with the idea of predictive prophesy and therefore suggest it must have been written after it happened.

However this would make little sense. In Isaiah 41 God challenged the idols, "Tell us, you idols, what is going to happen" (v.22) because they were not able to, God predicts the future. The fulfilment only benefitted those who were alive when Cyrus came to power but perhaps this was God's purpose.

Following the exile, God wanted his people to return to their land. Reading this prophesy and living during its fulfilment would have been a huge encouragement to return and rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple. Yet when the decree came allowing the Jews to return, only a very small percentage of the people actually did. Some records suggest less than 5%. Most had become comfortable living in Babylon.

Nevertheless this prophesy is still a great encouragement. There are many unfilled prophesies in Isaiah and elsewhere. When we consider how amazing it is that God can predicted the future so far in advance with such accuracy it gives us hope.

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