Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reflection on Isaiah 45:1-7

This weekend I figured out who the Messiah is! I know...I know, you are thinking to yourself, “You’re a Christian pastor, shouldn’t you know?”

However, I could not believe it when I saw it right there is Isaiah. And, being the good bible scholars that you are, you are thinking to yourself, “But, Isaiah is in the Old Testament. Jesus is not in the Old Testament.”

But it was right there. It is the only place in the Old Testament where the name of the Messiah, the anointed one of Israel, is given. Isaiah himself tells the Israelites who it is. And, let me give you a hint: it is not Jesus.

And the Messiah is: King Cyrus of Persia, the conqueror of Babylon, the puff-headed, full of himself, “I am the greatest in the world,” "kiss my golden sandaled feet," “I will free the entire world from the Babylonian scourge because I am great,” Cyrus! In fact, “Cyrus” in the Hebrew language means “Messiah.” I assume that his parents were preemptively concerned about his self-esteem. The man did grow up, humbly baring the name, Messiah, on his chest in glowing neon with an “Oppressed? Turn Here” arrow flashing on and off. However, he did live up to his name, eventually unlocking the jail bars and freeing the Israelites from captivity in Babylon to their homeland to live happily ever after…or at least until the Romans conquered them.

But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. When the prophet Isaiah revealed the name of the Messiah to the Israelites, they had no idea that this foreign king would save them. I do not know much about Isaiah, where he was born, where he came from, how many wives he had, but I do know that the day he announced, "Cyrus as the Messiah," was the day the Israelites sent him to the old folks home for good. Telling them that a foreign king who did not know God, did not follow God’s commandments, and was not from the house of David was probably like telling Isaiah telling us that our economic crisis will be solved by none other than the economic genius, Osama Bin Laden. Despite how crazy it sounded, God chose to use Cyrus to be the Israelite's Messiah. Read what God had to say about it:

“I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.”

God gets God’s work done in any way that God can, and it is amazing. The Lord took a foreign king, used the fault of his arrogance as an advantage, and freed God’s people. God gets God’s work done in any way that God can, and it is amazing.

The Lord once took a nun who continually doubted God’s presence and goodness, put her on the streets with the leprous and starving, and created Mother Teresa. Thousands have been saved by God through this “ye of little faith” nun. The God gets God’s work done in any way that God can, and it is amazing.

Jesus once indicated that the destruction of Israel’s temple by no means signaled the destruction of God. “From these stones God can raise up descendants of Abraham.” God gets God’s work done in any way that God can, and it is amazing.

Since becoming a pastor, I have to say that the name, “Cyrus” has been running through my head constantly. It runs through my head every time that someone says, “I think God left me out of God’s purpose. I don’t know any gifts that God has given me.”

“You may not know your purpose, but God knows. Just take a look at Cyrus,” I think to myself.

“I just cannot stand _____ who sits over there. She is worthless.”

“You may not see any worth, but God does. Just take a look at Cyrus,” I think to myself.

When God looked at Cyrus, God did not turn away when he saw the faults of arrogance or distance from the faith. No, God saw someone through whom salvation could occur.

Whenever, Mother Teresa looked into the face of a pealing, blood pustuled, leprous person, she did not see the disgusting, she saw someone whom Christ had died for. If Christ could die for him, then she could also. Seeing Christ in everyone was the basis of her ministry. And she is honored for it.

And, whenever God looks into any of our faces, it is not the mistakes and terrible faults that God sees there. Whenever God look into our faces, God sees someone worth dying for; God sees someone who is precious; God sees someone who is worthy being called a minister of the Kingdom of God; God sees someone through whom great things may happen. God gets God’s work done in any way that God can, through anyone whom God chooses, even your enemies, even you, and it is amazing.

All Scripture quotes are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyrighted, 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and is used by permission. All rights reserved.

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