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1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Thus said the Lord to Cyrus, His anointed one—
Whose right hand He has grasped,
Treading down nations before him,
Ungirding the loins of kings,
Opening doors before him
And letting no gate stay shut:
I will march before you and level the hills that loom up. JSB
Jumping in, as we do, to this passage, it is easy to believe Isaiah is speaking of Israel. We must note the underlined portion. King Cyrus of Persia is the anointed one [literally Messiah] in this case.
If these were not the words of God, we might think someone was playing fast and lose with the Bible. We all know there is one Messiah.
Not so. Reading the Hebrew Scriptures, we often see the word mashiyach used of people God has anointed for a special purpose. They are all pointing to the ultimate Messiah, the Son of God.
I will shatter doors of bronze
And cut down iron bars.
I will give you treasures concealed in the dark
And secret hoards—
So that you may know that it is I the Lord,
The God of Israel, who call you by name. JSB
The kings you will conquer have hidden their wealth where you will never find it, but I will tell you where it is. You are to kick in the doors and plunder to your heart’s content.
Isaiah had the misfortune to do his prophecy during the time of the fall of the Kingdom of Israel. He had to tell the Judean kings that they would be destroyed. But God also gave Isaiah a special message to deliver to Cyrus, in person—’you can continue to conquer other kings.’
But we need to back up to the last three verses of chapter 44.
But confirm the word of My servant
And fulfill the prediction of My messengers.
It is I who say of Jerusalem, “It shall be inhabited,”
And of the towns of Judah, “They shall be rebuilt;
And I will restore their ruined places.”
I, who said to the deep, “Be dry;
I will dry up your floods,”
Am the same who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd;”
He shall fulfill all My purposes!
He shall say to Jerusalem, ‘She shall be rebuilt,’
And to the Temple: ‘You shall be founded again.’” JSB
Now we understand God’s plan and purpose. Israel and Judah turned away from God and they had to be punished, so God allowed them to be carried away—Israel to Assyria and Judah to Babylon. Cyrus entered the picture when he conquered Babylon and others in the region. He came to be the instrument of hope for Judah. Through Isaiah, God told Cyrus that he would soon let God’s people return to their homes. In exchange for that kindness, Cyrus could conquer others.
We see this kind of event throughout the OT and it is natural to ask, ‘Why would God turn against his Chosen People?” When we look closely, we see that it was the Chosen who turned away from God. They were given warnings of what would happen if they did so, but the warnings were ignored. The same message is found in the NT.
No where in the Scriptures are we guaranteed immunity from life’s ups and downs. Even when we are faithful to God, cancer strikes. We live in a world of sin and sin affects every human, regardless of who does the sinning.
SARS CoV 2 has impacted the whole world. It seems likely that the US will experience a quarter of a million deaths before vaccines help protect the rest of us. Unlike many diseases, people who survive a Covid attack only have immunity for a very few months. Already, several people have been infected a second time. Good people have died.
God did not send this disease. But God works for His good in the midst of the disease. Sin, human sin, caused Covid, but good can come out of it if we stay focused on God.
The election is around the corner. As Christians, we believe it is important to discern who God would like to win, and vote for that person. We like to think that God has anointed one or the other candidate. But having read today’s Scripture, we now have to believe that He may anoint the worst candidate to do his will.
Does God anoint candidates for every office in every country in every election? I doubt it. I think God works within what ever happens. We have free choice. That is how we ended up living in sin. God works to help us see how we can live for Him no matter who is elected.
Be righteous and do good.