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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, October 13, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Isaiah 45:1–7

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him—and the gates shall not be closed: I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me.

I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; 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. (NRSV)

So who is this guy? That was my first thought when I read this passage. Who is Cyrus, and why is there a story about him? Not being a biblical scholar (far from it!), I looked him up. Seems he is the guy who conquered Babylon and opened the way for the exiled Israelites to return home. Pretty impactful. But I don’t think that’s the story Isaiah is telling.

Cyrus was anointed by God to be God’s instrument even though he knew nothing about the God of Israel, even though he was only acting out of his own conqueror self-interest. There was a power greater than he who was really in charge. So the story isn’t about Cyrus, it’s about all of us. We are all called by the one God by our name. There is One who holds power and sway over all of us—in our joys and sorrows; in our fears and follies; in our certainties and doubts; in our failures and triumphs—even when we are unaware and think we really are in control.

In our unawareness we still can find the treasures and riches of God’s promise in the everyday. Even when we may despair over the state of our world, we can be assured that God is still there. In the turbulence, unrest, and uncertainty of our times we are armed by God-power. Each of us has been called by name to be an instrument like Cyrus, not to storm the gates of Babylon but to act out the promise of letting Love loose. I think that is the story.

Lord, call me by name. Help me see through the fog of life. Even in my ignorance and unknowing, reveal to me the hidden riches and treasure of serving as your instrument. Amen.

Written by Ken Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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