Anglican Morning Devotion for 16 January 2022 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” (ISAIAH 45:1-5; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
One of my childhood heroes is featured in the text today – Cyrus the Great. He also remains a hero in my memory of his beneficence to defeated nations and their religious beliefs. He is honored prominently in the Middle Eastern countries and even by the nation of Israel in Jerusalem of which there is an avenue named in his honor.
Isaiah made his prophecy of the coming of Cyrus several decades before the birth of the great king. In today’s text, he is even referred to a messiah (anointed one), not to be understood as the Messiah prophesied to save all Israel – the Lord Jesus Christ. Even more remarkable is the fact that Isaiah called Cyrus by name in his prophecy.
Cyrus seems to have embraced the God of Israel in both commentary and prayer. He was used of the Lord in fulfillment of prophecy in returning the Children of Israel out of bondage in Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple there. “Thus saith Cyrus, king of Persia: All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD, the God of heaven given me; and He hath charged me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whosoever there is among you of all His people – the LORD, his God, be with him – let him go there.” (2 Chronicles 36:23)
I was privileged to visit the city and tomb of Cyrus at Pasargadae in Persia (Iran) in 1976 while living in that land. Over the arch of the tomb, in Cunieform writing are these words: “O man, whosoever thou ate and from wheresoever thou art come, for I know thou wilt come, Behold, I am Cyrus the Great King who won the Persians their empire. Do not therefore begrudge me this small dust that covers my bones.”
Cyrus was perhaps the greatest military strategist of his time, and a ruler of high moral character. On the Cyrus Cylinder unearthed at Babylon, he writes of those lands he defeated, “I lifted their unbecoming yoke. Their dilapidated dwellings I restored. I put an end to their misfortunes.”
A clearly defined impression of how the Lord used Cyrus is also included in the first chapter of the Book of Ezra: “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, 2Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:1-4) (see also Ezra 6:3-5)
Of Cyrus, the anointed one, God further says in Isaiah: “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts. 14 Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. 15 Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. “ (Isaiah 45:1-15) In the sense of the prophecies concerning Cyrus the Great, he was a type of Christ though as a dim and distant star compared to the brilliance of the Sun.