Archive for April 14th, 2016

Isaiah 45:11-13: Shaping the Future

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Who is Cyrus, why does the prophet Isaiah refer to him here, and does he have any effect on our lives today?

Cyrus II “was known to be a great conqueror, who at one point controlled one of the greatest Empires ever seen, he is best remembered for his unprecedented tolerance and magnanimous attitude towards those he defeated . . . and he declared the first Charter of Human Rights known to mankind”. (Iran Chamber Society)

Cyrus, who freed the exiled Israelites from their Babylonian captivity, might serve as a focus of our reflection today for “it was by diplomacy as well as force of arms that he established the largest empire known until his time”. (ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA)

We might remember this leader for fierce battles that built an empire; and we might also remember his “humane treatment of conquered subjects”. (www.cyrusthegreat.net) By all accounts, he was a leader who showed compassion to a conquered and persecuted nation; and he made possible the reclamation of the city of Jerusalem and The Temple so important to the Jewish nation.

And so Isaiah tells us . . .

Thus God, The Holy of Israel, Israel’s Maker, says:
    “Do you question who or what I’m making?
    Are you telling me what I can or cannot do?
I made earth,
    and I created man and woman to live on it.
I handcrafted the skies
    and direct all the constellations in their turnings.
And now I’ve got Cyrus on the move.
    I’ve rolled out the red carpet before him.
He will build my city.
    He will bring home my exiles.
I didn’t hire him to do this. I told him.
    I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.”

British Museum, London, UK: Cyrus Cylinder - the first charter of rights of nations

Cyrus Cylinder: the first charter of rights of nations (British Museum: London, UK)

We might spend time today learning about this leader who understood that a conquered people harbor a simmering desire for freedom that cannot be quelled; and that a small measure of tolerance, an openness to forming alliances, and a hope for a better future gain more than arms and force. Today Isaiah reminds us that despite apparent impossibilities, God called the conqueror Cyrus to help a trampled people. Today we might consider similar obstacles in our own lives as we receive the same invitation, the invitation to join others in shaping the future of our lives and the lives of those with whom we have both much and little in common. We only need listen for God’s call and respond.

Read more about Cyrus the Great at the sites below or at a site of your choosing.





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