I have raised him up - This evidently refers to Cyrus, and to what he did for the Jews; and informs us by whom he was excited to do it.
I have raised him up - That is. Cyrus (see the notes at Isaiah 41:2).
In righteousness - In Isaiah 41:2, he is called ‹the righteous man.‘ He had raised him up to accomplish his own righteous plans. It does not necessarily mean that Cyrus was a righteous man (see the notes at Isaiah 41:2).
And I will direct all his ways - Margin, ‹Make straight.‘ This is the meaning of the Hebrew word (see the notes at Isaiah 40:4). The sense here is, I will make his paths all smooth and level, that is, whatever obstacles are in his way I will remove, and give him eminent success.
He shall build my city - Jerusalem. See Ezra 1:2, where, in his proclamation, Cyrus says, ‹Jehovah, God of heaven, hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.‘ It is very probable that Cyrus was made acquainted with these predictions of Isaiah. Nothing would be more natural than that the Jews in Babylon, when he should become master of the city, knowing that he was the monarch to whom Isaiah referred, and that he had been raised up for their deliverance, should acquaint him with these remarkable prophecies, and show him that God bad long before designated aim to accomplish this great work (compare the notes at Isaiah 44:28).
And he shall let go my captives - Hebrew, ‹My captivity,‘ or ‹my migration;‘ that is, those of his people who were in captivity.
Not for price - They shall not be purchased of him as slaves, nor shall they be required to purchase their own freedom. They shall be sent away as freemen, and no price shall be exacted for their ransom (compare Isaiah 52:3). The Jews in Babylon were regarded as captives in war, and therefore as slaves.
Nor for reward - The Hebrew word used here (שׁחד shochad ) denotes properly that which is given to conciliate the favor of others, and hence, often a bribe. Here it means, that nothing should be given to Cyrus for their purchase, or to induce him to set them at liberty. He should do it of his own accord. It was a fact that he not only released them, but that he endowed them with rich arid valuable gifts, to enable them to restore their temple and city Ezra 1:7-11.
In the unexpected entry of the army of the Persian conqueror into the heart of the Babylonian capital by way of the channel of the river whose waters had been turned aside, and through the inner gates that in careless security had been left open and unprotected, the Jews had abundant evidence of the literal fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy concerning the sudden overthrow of their oppressors. And this should have been to them an unmistakable sign that God was shaping the affairs of nations in their behalf; for inseparably linked with the prophecy outlining the manner of Babylon's capture and fall were the words: PK 552.1
“Cyrus, he is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 44:28; 45:13. PK 552.2
Nor were these the only prophecies upon which the exiles had opportunity to base their hope of speedy deliverance. The writings of Jeremiah were within their reach, and in these was plainly set forth the length of time that should elapse before the restoration of Israel from Babylon. “When seventy years are accomplished,” the Lord had foretold through His messenger, “I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” Jeremiah 25:12. Favor would be shown the remnant of Judah, in answer to fervent prayer. “I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:14. PK 552.3Read in context »
The deliverance of Daniel from the den of lions had been used of God to create a favorable impression upon the mind of Cyrus the Great. The sterling qualities of the man of God as a statesman of farseeing ability led the Persian ruler to show him marked respect and to honor his judgment. And now, just at the time God had said He would cause His temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt, He moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning himself, with which Daniel was so familiar, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. PK 557.1
As the king saw the words foretelling, more than a hundred years before his birth, the manner in which Babylon should be taken; as he read the message addressed to him by the Ruler of the universe, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me;” as he saw before his eyes the declaration of the eternal God, “For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me;” as he traced the inspired record, “I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build My city, and he shall let go My captives, not for price nor reward,” his heart was profoundly moved, and he determined to fulfill his divinely appointed mission. Isaiah 45:5, 6, 4, 13. He would let the Judean captives go free; he would help them restore the temple of Jehovah. PK 557.2
In a written proclamation published “throughout all his kingdom,” Cyrus made known his desire to provide for the return of the Hebrews and for the rebuilding of their temple. “The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth,” the king gratefully acknowledged in this public proclamation; “and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, ... and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering.” Ezra 1:1-4. PK 558.1Read in context »
“And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” Micah 4:2. CT 455.1
The Old Testament Scriptures were the lesson book of Israel.... There are practical lessons in the word of God, lessons that Christ would have teachers and parents present to the children in the school and in the home. That word teaches living, holy principles, which prompt men to do unto others as they would have others do unto them—principles which they are to bring into the daily life here below, and carry with them into the school above. This is the higher education. No learning of human origin can gain these heights; for they reach into eternity, and are immortalized. We know altogether too little of the greatness of the love and compassion of God. CT 455.2
Let students put to the stretch their mental faculties, that they may comprehend the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. Such chapters as this should be brought into our schools as a valuable study. They are better than romance and fables. Why have our schools been so dependent upon books which tell so little of the city we claim to be seeking, whose builder and maker is God? Our lesson books should contain the loftiest themes of thought. Heaven is our home. Our citizenship is above, and our lives must not be devoted to a world that is soon to be destroyed.... CT 455.3Read in context »
In the forty-first to the forty-fifth chapters of Isaiah, God very fully reveals His purpose for His people, and these chapters should be prayerfully studied. God does not here instruct His people to turn away from His wisdom and look to finite man for wisdom. “Remember these, O Jacob and Israel,” He declares, “for thou art My servant: ... O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed thee. Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.” TM 480.1
“Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside Me.... Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” TM 480.2Read in context »