“I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed. Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.”
And now the Sovereign Lord and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore—too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.”
Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The Lord has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel. (Isaiah 48:15-20)
God’s prophet, Isaiah, asserts God’s sovereignty over the heavens and the earth, and over all the kingdoms and empires of the world. Jerusalem and Judah had already been warned by God’s prophets that the Babylonians would conquer them. Now Isaiah promises that the Babylonians would fall in turn. The Lord would choose the Persian king, Cyrus, to be his “ally” to destroy Babylon and release his exiled people.
How could the Lord choose a pagan king who did not know the Lord to fulfill his divine plan?
Isaiah anticipated such a question. It was part of the reason he began by proclaiming God’s sovereignty over all things—heaven, earth, kingdoms, people. Who but a prophet of God could predict such an inconceivable but true story almost 200 years before it happened? And who but a truly sovereign God could bring it all to pass, just as promised?
The world stage is full of leaders who don’t honor God. Some are even openly hostile to him. But God “controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings” (Daniel 2:21).
The Israelites needed to be freed from Babylon’s captivity; we need to ask God to free us from whatever holds us captive. He will do it.