Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” ‘ “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors so that the gates will not be shut. (Isaiah 44:28-45:1)
Cyrus The Shepherd Of God
Isaiah was one of the great prophets of the pre-exilic period of Israel eight centuries before Christ. His ministry in Judah took place in 740 B.C. during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The prophet’s message reflected the times in which he lived. He was keenly aware of the spiritual degradation of the nation of God and impending doom at the hands of the Babylonian army. Isaiah would be the statesman prophet who would see the fall of his beloved nation because the people rejected the word of God. In the face of such destruction, Isaiah’s messianic message of hope would be delivered to assure the people of God’s continuing care for His people. A remarkable thing took place in the language of the divine assurance of deliverance.
In 606 B.C. The Babylonians captured Jerusalem and twenty years later, the city and the temple of Solomon were destroyed. Seventy years after the fall of Jerusalem (536 B.C.), the decree of Cyrus allowed the Hebrew captives to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of God. Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, the prince of Persia, and was born about 599 B.C. In the days of Isaiah, the Babylonian empire ruled the world but in 539 B.C. Cyrus the Mede captured the city of Babylon.
Isaiah prophesied the people of God would be in bondage for seventy years and that prophecy came true. What is remarkable about the prophecy of Cyrus performing the pleasure of the Lord to destroy Babylon, deliver the Jewish captives and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple is the words of Isaiah took place one hundred and fifty years before the return of Israel to Jerusalem. The prophecy of Cyrus in Isaiah’s message was not only would God raise a kingdom to punish Babylon and deliver His people, the name of the king who would do the will of God was Cyrus. When Isaiah wrote the words of his message, Cyrus was not born. It is incredible to consider prophecy about a nation doing the will of the Lord, but in Isaiah’s book, a king is named before he was born.
The Bible is proven to be a divine book by the content of its message and the fulfillment of prophecies far beyond the scope of human wisdom. Prognosticators can make wild guesses about future events and seldom hit the mark. The Bible not only tells of coming kingdoms (Assyria, Babylon, Greece and Rome in the book of Daniel) but can declare the name of a certain king who will do a certain thing during a certain time in the history of Israel. The mention of Cyrus as king is evidence of the power of the Lord God to prove He is the creator of the world, the ruler of all nations, and the author of an eternal message. Cyrus became a shepherd of the Lord to fulfill the scheme of redeeming men from the bondage of sin. The Lord uses pagan kings to carry out His work. Isaiah shows the Bible to be the word of God by declaring the name of a king yet born in a foreign and pagan land that would deliver the people of God. If God can declare the work of Cyrus years before he is born, consider what God has done through His Son Jesus Christ. Cyrus, the shepherd of God, died in 529 B.C. Jesus Christ became the sacrificial Shepherd who died and rose again. Isaiah’s hope in the Messiah is fulfilled in Christ. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.