“For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
These verses and the few on either side comprise God’s message from Isaiah to the Persian Emperor, Cyrus the Great. It is a remarkable bit of Scripture for two reasons.
First, it was written long before Cyrus was the emperor of Persia. It was written when Babylon was still the major power on the world’s stage and it didn’t look like anything would be able to knock them off that perch. God was declaring not only the fall of Babylon, but that a ruler of Persia nobody even knew about at this point in history was going to release the people of Israel from captivity…before they were taken captive to begin with. Not only was this a prophecy about the future, but it was a very specific one that could have easily been falsified. Our God is the Lord of the past, the present, and the future.
While the first thing is perhaps the more obviously impressive of the two things here, the second is the more important. Again, Cyrus was going to be the ruler of Persia. Not Israel. Persia was not a God-fearing nation. They were pagan. And yet here was God declaring that the pagan ruler of this pagan people would be His chosen instrument for accomplishing His plans of extending mercy to His people Israel.
What we see here is a stirring reminder that God’s sovereignty does not extend merely to His own people. He is sovereign over all of His creation. There are no rulers except those that He allows to hold sway over others. He raises them up and He brings them down. Simply because a person is not following Him with devotion and intentionality does not at all mean He cannot still use them to accomplish His plans.
We may not always understand why He allows certain rulers to rise and exercise terrible authority over others, but from passages like this one we can rest assured that He always has things well in hand when He does. Nothing ever surprises Him or leaves Him scrambling to figure out His next play. He is the Lord of all creation and that is a title He will never relinquish. Let us rest in His confident arms and trust ourselves to His faithful plans. He is always working for the good of His people even in the midst of circumstances and under the shadow of leaders that are as far from ideal as we could imagine. He is worthy of our trust and devotion. He cares for us.