Friday, October 20, 2017

All knees will bow

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Isaiah 45:14-25

TO CHEW ON: "I have sworn to Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath." Isaiah 45:23

Our reading today is a continuation of Isaiah's prophecy to Cyrus—a Persian king who would not be born for about another 100 years. The way Isaiah addresses him by name (Isaiah 45:1) has caused some scholars to question whether Isaiah really wrote this prophecy. Of course, people who believe in the supernatural character of prophecy and the divine inspiration of Scripture have no trouble trusting that God can make such predictions.

Today we read how Cyrus will dominate Egypt and Arabia (the Sabeans) (Isaiah 45:14). But he will prove to be God's instrument of freedom for the exiled Jews in Babylon (Isaiah 45:17).

This prophecy was fulfilled. In 539 B.C. Cyrus came to power. First he returned the temple valuables to the Jews (the Babylonians had taken them, along with the people, when they looted Jerusalem) and let some exiles return to rebuild the temple. Eventually he let them all return to their land. The book of Ezra is the story of that return. (Read Cyrus's decree in Ezra 1:1-5.)

From predicting the specifics of using Cyrus for His purposes, God declares (through Isaiah) His dominion over all the earth.
- He is the only God - Isaiah 45:21.
- He is the only Saviour - Isaiah 45:22
- It is only to Him that every knee will bow and tongue take an oath (of allegiance) (Isaiah 45:23, see also Philippians 2:9-11).

As a citizen of a nation that prides itself on tolerance, openness to, and acceptance of any and all religious creeds as equally true, I find myself, despite knowing better, cringing at such bold pronouncements. The way I have been influenced by my prevailing culture demonstrates how I need as much faith to believe this as the Israelites did at the time it was spoken. 

The Hebrews of the exodus needed faith that God had sent Moses and that he would indeed lead them out of Egypt, slavery and eventually to the Promised Land.

The Jews of the Babylonian exile needed faith that Yahweh was God over the idols of their captors.

We in our time need faith that the God of the Bible is who He says He is and will show Himself the only God, in the face of our culture's intolerance toward claims of objective truth.

PRAYER: Dear God, I believe You when You say that every knee will someday bow to You and every tongue confess that You are Lord. Help me to work out what this means in regard to how I interact with people all around me who don't believe. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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