OT Encounters: The Unlikely Anointed

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for this Sunday, October 22, 2017, comes from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 45:1-7 and contains a very unusual, even problematic declaration by the LORD God, Himself; The LORD calls, “Cyrus”, His anointed one. This Cyrus is a reference to “Cyrus the Great” the powerful Persian leader. This reference causes concern on two fronts. For those who struggle with the idea of prophecy and miracles in general, this declaration of the LORD through His prophet Isaiah sends them off the rails. Cyrus has not yet been born—in fact, is several hundred years in the future. It is one thing to give a general prophecy that a nation/power from the East will bless/rescue God’s people; it is quite another to give the precise name of this “one” who is far in the future. For those of us who do NOT struggle with prophecy, miracles, etc. this is not overwhelming in the negative—it is impressive in the positive.

However, there is another concern that many who believe in the miracles, signs and wonders of the Old Testament do have. Cyrus is the leader of a foreign and pagan nation. Cyrus is not, and as far as we know, never becomes a believer in the One True God. How can the LORD call him His anointed one? This language recorded in verse one definitely places Cyrus in the role of a Messianic/Christological figure. How can that be? An unbeliever…pagan…etc. This is offensive, if not completely confusing to many Christians. It is, however, not that unusual in both the Old and New Testament. God used Balaam to prophecy and bless even though he was no friend of God. Even Caiaphas in the New Testament prophecies: “Surely it is expedient that one man die for the people.” Truly, God uses good and evil, believers and unbelievers to accomplish His purposes—always has, still does, and yes, even an unbeliever can be a Christological figure. As we will see in the text; the LORD is quite capable of such a thing!

45:1 limshicho –root: mashiach—“the anointed one; anointed” “…to His anointed one…”

         Lerad –root: radad—“to conquer; drive back; subdue”

         Mathnayim –“hips; loins (hips and loins)” (ESV: to lose the belts…)

         Yisageru –root: sagar—niphal (passive)—“to be shut; to be closed”

45:2 wahadurim –root: hadar—“to honor; swell” “…and the honored/exalted places…)

     Yashar –There is some disagreement on this verse amongst the Masoretes. The root is agreed upon but the form is not. The choices: hiphil—“to level; to make even (causative)”; or, piel—“to smooth; level; make smooth” Together with “hadar” I would translate: “I will cause the exalted places to be leveled.”

Even with a great military leader like Cyrus, God will be doing/causing the victory.

         Agedea –root: gada—piel—“to cut off; cut through; cut in two”

45:3 The first section can be translated: “I will give to you treasures of darkness (hidden places) and hidden treasures of secret places” The idea is that treasure is stored/hidden in dark places (vaults; cellars; etc)

Now we see that Cyrus does not know this God who is giving him success. This theme is repeated three times and then in verses 6-7 the LORD shows who He is and how He can do these mighty things—even through Cyrus—one who does not know Him.

45:4 akaneka –root: kanah—piel—“to give a name/title (usually a title of honor)”

         “I call to you by your name, I give you a name (of honor) but you do not know me.”

ALL THIS FOR THE SAKE OF THE LORD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE!

45:5 aazerka –root: azar—piel—“to embrace; to hold close”

45:6 mimizrach –“place of rising; position of rising (as in the sun)”

         Maazav –“sunset; the West”

45:7 yotser –root: yatsar—“to form; fashion; create”

         Uvore (2X)—root: bara—“To create; shape; fashion”

         “I form light and create darkness, making peace and creating chaos”

Obviously, the LORD in the One in control—over Cyrus, over the fate of His chosen people, and over us!