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The "ER" numbers below reference an Exhaustive Reference which will be made available when completed.
Why does the name “Cyrus” appear only 23 times in the New King James Translation but 26 times in the New Living Translation? The answer is simple, yet at the same time appalling. The NLT translators inserted his name into the text in three locations which it does not appear in the original Hebrew. Without doubt they did this because they thought the text called for it, even though God himself did not. This is just one example of one word. How many more words were inserted into the text based on their understanding and not on the original text? A translation that would presume to do such a thing should not be called a translation, nor even a Bible. It should be called what it is, a commentary. We need to be very careful what “translation” of the Bible we study. There are excellent, even free, tools at our disposal to allow us to study the words of the original text.
Nevertheless, the name Cyrus does appear in this text once, as it appeared in the previous chapter once. These are the only two occurrences of the name in the book of Isaiah according to the original Hebrew. Why are we being told of Cyrus in the context of the opening months of Tribulation? How does it fit the narrative? In previous chapters Isaiah used events of the past to show us events yet to come. He did this in chapters 7 to 10 to show us how the king of Assyria relates to Ezekiel’s account of Gog of Magog. In chapters 36 to 39 he showed us how Hezekiah represents God’s faithful remnant. All throughout the prophets we see King David is a type of Christ. In the previous chapter we saw how Cyrus represents a latter-day leader who is chosen by God to proclaim to God’s daughter of Zion that she will be established. That theme continues to be echoed in this chapter.
Summary by Section
1. (v.1-7) [ER 4.3]
“That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me.” In chapter 41 I discussed how this end-time prophet, Elijah, gains notoriety as he performs signs and wonders before the Tribulation and his predictions about that Day come to pass. In chapter 49 we see he is then sent out to reflect the light of his Savior, who we saw in chapter 42.
But let’s pretend this servant doesn’t exist. Let’s pretend no one comes to the forefront to perform those signs and make those predictions. In this scenario the Tribulation begins and the world is largely clueless as to what the events mean. They didn’t understand the prophecies before the Tribulation began and they still don’t. There’s nothing and no one to point to, to say, “Yes, he was right, the Word of God is faithfulness and truth.” But because this one steps forward (“Here I am, send me!”) God uses him mightily to bring to light God’s glory and purpose. The purpose of this servant is to bring glory to the Father as he works miracles and makes accurate predictions in the name of the Son, his Lord and Savior Yahshua the Christ.
“I will gird you, though you have not known Me.” The word “gird” means to put a belt around someone. God is girding up this end-time messenger with the belt of truth. “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” (Eph. 6:14) God is bringing him into a strong knowledge of him as he girds him about with truth, which is the Word of God.
God is able to show him the hidden riches of secret places as he gives him revelation in his Word, those chariots of horsemen and camels and donkeys. (Is. 21) “That you may know that I, the LORD, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” Only in this way, by deep revelation of his Word, can this latter-day Elijah understand the God of Israel. God takes this servant from not knowing him to knowing him, by revelation of his Word. By this we know actual hidden treasure is not being spoken of. The God of Israel was revealed to ancient Cyrus because they showed him where his name appeared in the prophecies. So it is with the latter-day Cyrus. Natural treasure does not reveal God, but the treasure of his Word does. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Prov. 25:2) “Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me…” (Jer. 9) How do we know him? Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17)
So while there was an ancient Persian king named Cyrus who brought freedom to the house of Judah after he took Babylon, there is a modern-day counterpart who God uses to “raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel” when America is destroyed. (Is. 49:6) The tribes of Jacob refer to all of God’s people; both houses, Judah and Israel. “The children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together.” (Jer. 50:4)
“I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.” Some translations render this “I will level the exalted ones.” The thought concerns bringing down the mighty, exalted ones of the earth. God used Cyrus to bring down ancient Babylon but God goes before this latter-day Cyrus to bring down the exalted, lone superpower of the earth of our day. America is referred to as Babylon in the Bible. All her gates will be broken asunder on that day. All of the truths she now holds dear, which she believes will protect her from calamity, will come crashing down around her on that day.
2. (v.8-13) [ER 3.1.4, 3.7, 5.6, 7.1]
“I, the LORD, do all these things. Rain down, you heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness.” Notice how the previous passage is connected to this one. The focus of verses 1 through 7 was the prophet Elijah who will precede the first day of Tribulation. (Mal. 4:5) He is like Cyrus, which is why we are being shown these things within the context of the beginning of Tribulation. Verse 13 continues to discuss this latter-day Cyrus, therefore we can conclude the raining down of righteousness has something to do with this end-time prophet.
But notice the dissonance of this passage. Notice the tension concerning the things we are being shown. God makes is clear that he is the one doing these things like rain falling on parched ground. God has anointed this latter-day Cyrus to deliver God’s people. God is the one bringing about a change from captivity and barrenness to freedom and abundance; from bondage of lies to righteousness and truth. But how do the people respond? “Woe to him who strives with his Maker!”
How is the rain of righteousness connected to this Elijah, this latter-day Cyrus? The word for “rain down”, or “drop down” (H7491 - ra`aph) is very close to the word nataph (H5197) which means to drop down, or drip, and is often translated as to preach or prophesy: “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach (H5197) against the holy places, and prophesy (H5012) against the land of Israel.” (Ez. 21:2) This latter-day Cyrus goes before the people to preach and to prophecy to them when they are assembled before that day passes like chaff. (Is. 28:11, 32:11, 34:1, 41:1, 43:8-9,26, 48:14, Zeph. 2:1-2) Cyrus is still in view here. This is evident because verse 13 connects this passage to the previous one. These are not a disjointed collection of thoughts. This latter-day Cyrus is shown the hidden treasure of God’s Word and he goes before the people, sent by God and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to drip down the righteousness of God, that the earth, the people who have eyes to see, would open up to that rain to receive it and grow up unto God the Zion that he is now raising up out of a corrupt harlot called Babylon.
“I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways.” Remember what we saw earlier: “Who in righteousness called him to His feet?” (Is. 41:2) Compare this with a verse yet to come: “I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper.” (Is. 48:15) Even as this latter-day Elijah goes forth across the land, performing great miracles and preaching a message of repentance, the people fight against him! But they are not fighting against him but against God who sent him. Woe to those who strive with their Maker! “Woe to him who says to his father.” Incredibly, these are not unbelievers but believers who are fighting him. These potsherds are Christians who are striving with this Elijah, who is also a potsherd; a broken fragment of a vessel! They are resisting his message from the Lord. (Is. 28:12-13)
“Ask (demand) Me of things to come concerning My sons; and concerning the work of My hands, you command Me.” The word ask (H7592) can, by extension, take on a meaning of demand. The context is such that the people vehemently disagree with what they are hearing. The potsherds strive with this potsherd who is sent by God. They insist God will do such and such a thing regarding the last days. Though they see great miracles performed before their very eyes, they can’t reconcile it with the message they are hearing. They insist God will do something other than what the prophet says he will. Though God uses the miracles to confirm the words of his servant (Is. 44:26) they refuse to believe it. “Now let no man contend, or rebuke another; for your people are like those who contend with the priest.” (Hos. 4:4) The priest had final say in the interpretation of the law. Yet an obstinate people would continue to strive with him. In like manner, God confirms the words of this servant, yet the obstinate people continue to strive against him.
“He shall build My city and let My exiles go free.” By these are meant the raising of the tribes of Jacob out of America, as we have seen and will see, and the things yet to come as Zion is established in the earth.
3. (v.14-15) [ER 220.127.116.11, 8.1.2]
“The labor of Egypt and merchandise of Cush and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you, and they shall be yours.” The image of the city being rebuilt provides a segue to this passage. Isaiah takes us back to a prophecy he made in chapter 14: “For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob.” (Is. 14:1) “Truly You are God.” This occurs after the defeat of Gog when God is hallowed in the eyes of all the people. (Ez. 38:23)
4. (v.16-19) [ER 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124, 8.1.2]
“You shall not be ashamed or disgraced forever and ever.” Those who cling to idols are being separated from those who place their trust in God. The end of the age is being spoken of here by the use of the phrase “forever and ever.” Zion is being established before the return of Christ and Zion will not be brought low again. Christ will return to reign over his people in truth and righteousness.
“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth.” God uses the very public ministry of the prophet to speak to the world of these events shortly before they take place. These things have been prophesied in his Word for ages, yet now at the end of this age they are revealed. (Dan. 12:4) Elijah comes before the people in the year preceding the beginning of Tribulation. (Is. 32, Dan. 4) His message and very public ministry is still fresh in the minds of the people when these things begin to come to pass. “For thus says the LORD: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.’ “ (Jer. 30:5) As these events begin to come to pass the people remember that voice of trembling and fear they heard just prior to these things.
“I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’; I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” Notice that seeking him is connected to that which he has spoken and declared. God does not tell us to study his Word, the Bible, in vain. Those who walk in the Spirit must also abide in his Word. His Word washes us from the filth of the world (Eph. 5:26) and renews our mind. (Rom. 12:2) As we progress beyond the milk of the Word he shows us how precept is set upon precept and line upon line. (Is. 28) His Word benefits those who will spend time in diligent study with uncircumcised ears. (Jer. 6:10) But for those who are given over to the spirit of deep sleep, the Book, and the understanding thereof, remains sealed. (Is. 29)
5. (v.20-25) [ER 8.1.3, 8.1.7, 11]
“Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD?” After the opening events of the Tribulation have come to pass, the Lord God now focuses attention on the nations. This is the pattern we’ve seen time and again. After God uses Gog of Magog to contend with Zion in the wilderness, God’s attention turns to the nations. He now challenges the nations to consider everything they’ve just seen and heard. He calls to their minds the predictions Elijah made in the name of Yahshua, that the Father would be glorified. “Who told you all of this in advance?” God told us in advance in his Word and Elijah told the people before it happened. “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!” God uses the events of the opening months of the Tribulation as a witness to all the earth. We are his witnesses in the earth. God points to his work in Zion, how he saved them from two fires and is now prospering them. (Is. 2)
“That to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath.” The return of Christ is now being indicated. The day is soon coming when all kingdoms of men will have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. (Rev. 11:15)
“In the LORD all the descendants of Israel shall be justified, and shall glory.’” Both families, Israel and Judah, are reunited as one family under the umbrella of faith in Yahshua. (Ez. 37)
1. Cyrus, or Elijah, is used to prove that God is God alone.
2. They strive with the God who sent Elijah to them.
3. Some even come and serve Zion in the land.
4. The wheat and chaff are being separated, just as God said.
5. Let the nations now come and decide. He is God alone!
End of Age Context
Though an ancient king is described here, yet we see a time when Zion will no longer be ashamed, forever and ever. The end of the age is spoken of here when “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall take an oath” that Christ is King and Lord of All.
End of Age Themes
- An end-time messenger goes before the people.
- The people of God strive with this Elijah, a.k.a. Cyrus.
- When Zion is established, some will come and serve them.
- God separates faithful Zion from everyone else during the Tribulation.
- God turns his attention to the nations as he blesses Zion.
- The return of Christ when every knee will bow to him.
Sequence of Events
Following the pattern set before us so many times already, we see God raises up an Elijah to go before the people. He goes before them before the Tribulation begins and God uses his ministry as an example that he alone is God. Only God can raise a messenger to tell us what’s going to happen before it actually happens. After these opening events of the Tribulation Zion will be blessed as God establishes her in the land. Then he will turn his attention to the nations. People must decide to follow him or not. The wheat is separated from the chaff at the end of the age during the Tribulation.
What will you do in the day soon to come? Will you strive with your Maker? Do you strive against him today?