God Summons You by Name
“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: ‘I am the Lord, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself … who says of Cyrus, He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.'” Isaiah 44:24, 28
Historians record Cyrus’s great military achievements, lauding the many kingdoms he ruled, including Persia. But Scripture tells us that God orchestrated Cyrus’s success. God said he would “open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut …” (Isaiah 45:2-3). Many opened their gates and welcomed Cyrus without a battle. The gates of brass were left open the night Babylon was conquered, while Belshazzar, his nobles, his wives and concubines were feasting and reveling (Daniel 5:1-31).
Cyrus called himself a liberator and instituted a policy of sending exiled people back home, along with the vessels Nebuchadnezzar had taken from their temples and put in the temples of his gods. Cyrus believed in many gods, belonging to different nations. But he encountered Israel’s God and called him, “The Lord, the God of heaven.” Cyrus boasted, “He has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah” (Ezra 1:2).
Prophecies can be vague, but Isaiah named Cyrus and said God called him, “My shepherd.” Isaiah’s prophecy was written one hundred fifty years before Cyrus issued the decree to allow the people to return to Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:28).
Another prophet gave a specific time frame. “When seventy years [after the Babylonian captivity began], are completed for Babylon, I [the Lord] will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).
God knows us in the womb too, summons us by name, and gives us specific things to do even before we’re born. David wrote, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. … Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139: 13,16).
Cyrus played a supporting role in God’s plan to bring Israel back to the Promised Land. God is sovereign over our lives too even when we’re not fully aware of it.
Ask God to show you his sovereignty over your life, even in the everyday things that happen.
What did Cyrus send with the people when they went back to Jerusalem according to Ezra 3:7-8?
What was God’s purpose in bringing the people back from captivity according to Isaiah 45:1-5?
Nancy J. Baker
This devotion is part of our series on Not-As-Famous Men and Women of the Bible.