Cyrus is presented as a model of end-time messiahs that God will use to support Israel, along with Jesus her ultimate Messiah. Jesus's deliverance of Israel and defeat of her enemies causes every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that Jesus is Lord.
God raises up Cyrus deliverers.
In verses 1 to 8, God speaks prophetically to Cyrus, who is introduced at the end of chapter 44 as the one whom God commissions as his ‘shepherd’ to carry out his wishes concerning the reconstruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Here in chapter 45, God calls him his chosen one (literally ‘anointed one’) whose right hand he takes hold of. He promises to level mountains (i.e. to subdue nations) before him, to shatter bronze doors and iron bars, and to give him hidden treasures stashed in secret places. Cyrus was also introduced in Isaiah 41:2-3 as the one God commissions for his service, and to whom he will hand over nations. In 48:14, he is called the Lord’s ally (literally ‘the Lord’s beloved’). These prophecies of Cyrus are remarkable for at least two reasons:

1) Isaiah prophesied from about 740 to 680 BC, whereas Cyrus lived from about 600 to 530 BC. Isaiah not only describes him, but even names him 100 years before he was born. Isaiah’s prophecies of Cyrus illustrate his claim that God is unique because he proclaims the future in advance.
2) ‘Shepherd’, ‘anointed one’ and ‘beloved’ are titles that would normally refer to a great king of Israel like David or Solomon. ‘Anointed’ is even a messianic title. Levelling mountains before him is the kind of language Isaiah uses to describe the coming of Jesus (Isaiah 40:4), as later proclaimed by John the Baptist. Cyrus, is presented as a messianic figure whom God raises up to serve the interests of his people Israel, even though Cyrus is not a Jew, or even a convert to the Jewish faith. In verse 4, God says to him, “I call you by name and give you a title of respect, even though you do not recognize me”.

Why did God choose and raise up Cyrus in such a remarkable way? Several reasons are given:
1) to facilitate the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple (44:28)
2) so that Cyrus himself would recognise Jehovah as God (v3)
3) for the sake of his chosen people Israel (v4)
4) so that people from east to west would recognise that Jehovah is the only God (v6)
5) to send his exiled people home (v13)

In verse 7 God declares himself to be the sovereign creator of everything, including light and darkness, peace and calamity. This God, in verse 8, expresses his desire to pour down showers of blessing that bring deliverance and salvation to the whole earth – this is ultimately his purpose in all that he allows to happen.

Although these prophecies of Cyrus were fulfilled in the 6th century BC when Cyrus the Persian conquered the Babylonian empire, they are relevant to end-time events. They illustrate that God sometimes chooses unbelievers to fulfil his special purposes. According to Micah 5:5, when the Assyrian (the Antichrist) invades Israel, God will raise seven shepherds against him. These are rulers of nations who rise up as Israel’s allies, but are not necessarily believers who know God, any more than Cyrus did. 1 John 2:18 tells us that although an end-time Antichrist is coming, there are also many antichrists, and John defines what he means by an antichrist. Similarly, although Jesus is the Messiah, God will also raise up ‘messiahs’. Isaiah 45 helps us understand what these seven end-time messiahs might look like.

No complaints!
Verses 9 to 13 anticipate strong objections to God’s plan to use an unbeliever like Cyrus in such a way. God emphatically silences such objections – NO COMPLAINTS! How dare we question his plans (v12). Isaiah uses absurd sarcasm to illustrate his point - the pot questioning the potter, the child questioning his parents as to why they bore him. God is the creator of the earth and all its people, and he will use whoever he chooses to fulfil his purposes (v12-13).

Jesus’s end-time deliverance of Israel
Verse 14 to 25 make it clear that this whole chapter, and its wider context within Isaiah, are not ultimately about events that would be fulfilled through Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC. Ultimately, they are about God’s end-time deliverance of Israel that will bring salvation to the ends of the earth (v22), when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:11). At that time, “Israel will be delivered once and for all by the LORD; you will never again be ashamed or humiliated” (v17).

In verse 14, God appears to be addressing end-time Israel. The people of Egypt, Cush and Saba will be brought to Israel as prisoners in chains, bringing tribute. This is an end-of-the-age portrayal, after Jesus has delivered Israel and defeated her enemies. In this context, Cush refers to Sudan, possibly extending into northern Ethiopia and even Somalia. Saba was a south Arabian kingdom in what is now Yemen, and is also called Sheba in the bible. In Isaiah 60, all of Arabia (including Midian, Kedar, and Sheba) are pictured bringing tribute to Jesus in millennial Jerusalem. Here in chapter 45, it fits better with the end of this present age, when they are brought to Israel as defeated enemies of war. According to Daniel 11:42, Egypt and Cush are among the nations that Antichrist conquers, and presumably they will then fight for him against Jesus and Israel. When defeated by Jesus, they are ashamed and embarrassed (v16), and will bow down and confess that God is truly with Israel, and there is no other God than Jehovah (v14). This is in stark contrast to the Islamic confession that there is no god but Allah. Their confession in verse 15, that God is truly a God who hides himself, seems to be an expression of shocked amazement, like “We never ever saw this coming!” God responds, in verses 18 to 21, by calling everyone to gather together, and charging them as though in court, “Present the evidence! …Who predicted this in the past? Who announced it beforehand?” Repeatedly in these chapters in Isaiah, God stresses his uniqueness in that he proclaims the future beforehand through his prophets and then fulfils it. Israel is called to be his witness that “Yes”, God really did proclaim it beforehand. The resulting verdict is that God alone is God, and he has no peer or equal that can do likewise (v21).

Salvation to the world
Having established that Jehovah alone is God, all people everywhere, even in the earth’s remotest regions, are called to turn to Jesus (v22). God solemnly declares, “Surely every knee will bow to me, every tongue will solemnly affirm…Yes, the LORD is a powerful deliverer” (v23). In Philippians 2:9-11, the Apostle Paul interprets this verse as a confession that Jesus is Jehovah, “As a result God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow – in heaven and on earth and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father”. The name above every name is Jehovah. This recognition of Jesus as Jehovah is key to understanding so many end-time prophesies in the Old Testament. Where it says LORD (Jehovah), you can substitute the name ‘Jesus’.

Understood through the lens of Philippians 2:9-11, this chapter is also a powerful statement of the Trinitarian oneness of Jesus and God the Father. Six times this chapter proclaims that God has no peer (vs 5, 6, 14, 18, 21, and 22), yet Paul sees it as a prophetic declaration that Jesus is Jehovah. So Jesus is not another deity who is equal with God. Rather, he is the one true God. As Jesus himself said in John 10:30, "The Father and I are one". In contrast, many verses in the Quran state that Allah has no partner, as a denial that Jesus is the Son of God (e.g. Quran 17:111, 112:1-4).

This end-time confession of Jesus Christ as Lord by all the peoples of the earth comes through them witnessing Israel’s end-time deliverance by Jesus. This end-time deliverance is the key to the salvation of the world.
Places: Israel, Egypt, Cush, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Saba, Sheba, Yemen, Arabia
Tags: Cyrus as a type of messiah, Seven shepherds, God uses world leaders, Jesus delivers Israel, Salvation revealed through Israel, Defeat of Antichrist empire, Jesus as Jehovah, God as Trinity, God has no peer, Every tongue confesses Jesus as Lord, Every knee shall bow, God uniquely predicts the future, Nations bring tribute to Jesus, Muslim nations confess Jesus as God
1 This is what the Lord says to his chosen one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I hold in order to subdue nations before him, and disarm kings, to open doors before him, so gates remain unclosed:

2 “I will go before you and level mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter and iron bars I will hack through.
3 I will give you hidden treasures, riches stashed away in secret places, so you may recognize that I am the Lord, the one who calls you by name, the God of Israel.
4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, Israel, my chosen one, I call you by name and give you a title of respect, even though you do not submit to me.
5 I am the Lord, I have no peer, there is no God but me. I arm you for battle, even though you do not recognize me.
6 I do this so people will recognize from east to west that there is no God but me; I am the Lord, I have no peer.
7 I am the one who forms light and creates darkness; the one who brings about peace and creates calamity. I am the Lord, who accomplishes all these things.
8 O sky, rain down from above! Let the clouds send down showers of deliverance! Let the earth absorb it so salvation may grow, and deliverance may sprout up along with it. I, the Lord, create it.

The Lord Gives a Warning

9 One who argues with his Creator is in grave danger, one who is like a mere shard among the other shards on the ground! The clay should not say to the potter, “What in the world are you doing? Your work lacks skill!”
10 Danger awaits one who says to his father, “What in the world are you fathering?” and to his mother, “What in the world are you bringing forth?”
11 This is what the Lord says, the Holy One of Israel, the one who formed him, concerning things to come: “How dare you question me about my children! How dare you tell me what to do with the work of my own hands!
12 I made the earth; I created the people who live on it. It was me – my hands stretched out the sky. I give orders to all the heavenly lights.
13 It is me – I stir him up and commission him; I will make all his ways level. He will rebuild my city; he will send my exiled people home, but not for a price or a bribe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The Lord is the Nations’ Only Hope

14 This is what the Lord says: “The profit of Egypt and the revenue of Ethiopia, along with the Sabeans, those tall men, will be brought to you and become yours. They will walk behind you, coming along in chains. They will bow down to you and pray to you: ‘Truly God is with you; he has no peer; there is no other God!’”
15 Yes, you are a God who keeps hidden, O God of Israel, deliverer!
16 They will all be ashamed and embarrassed; those who fashion idols will all be humiliated.
17 Israel will be delivered once and for all by the Lord; you will never again be ashamed or humiliated.
18 For this is what the Lord says, the one who created the sky – he is the true God, the one who formed the earth and made it; he established it, he did not create it without order, he formed it to be inhabited – “I am the Lord, I have no peer.
19 I have not spoken in secret, in some hidden place. I did not tell Jacob’s descendants, ‘Seek me in vain!’ I am the Lord, the one who speaks honestly, who makes reliable announcements.
20 Gather together and come! Approach together, you refugees from the nations! Those who carry wooden idols know nothing, those who pray to a god that cannot deliver.
21 Tell me! Present the evidence! Let them consult with one another! Who predicted this in the past? Who announced it beforehand? Was it not I, the Lord? I have no peer, there is no God but me, a God who vindicates and delivers; there is none but me.
22 Turn to me so you can be delivered, all you who live in the earth’s remote regions! For I am God, and I have no peer.
23 I solemnly make this oath – what I say is true and reliable: ‘Surely every knee will bow to me, every tongue will solemnly affirm;
24 they will say about me, “Yes, the Lord is a powerful deliverer.”’” All who are angry at him will cower before him.
25 All the descendants of Israel will be vindicated by the Lord and will boast in him.