Isaiah 45:4, 5
For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel my elect, I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you…
I that call thee by thy name. "I have titled thee" (Cheyne's translation). Some think the reference is to the name Cyrus, or Koresh, regarded as a new title for one who was originally known as Agradates." Others, with more probability, think the reference is to the honourable epithets, "my shepherd," "my anointed." Our knowledge of Cyrus has been modified, in some very important particulars, by recent discoveries of Babylonian inscriptions. Professor Sayce is of opinion that, "We must give up the belief that Cyrus was a monotheist, bent on destroying the idols of Babylon. On the contrary, from the time when we first hear of him, he is a worshipper of Bel-Merodach, the patron-god of Babylon; and the first care of himself and his son, after his conquest of Babylonia, is to restore the Babylonian gods to the shrines from which they had been impiously removed by Nabonidos." "The theory," he says, "which held that Cyrus had allowed the Jews to return to 'their own land because, like them, he believed in but one supreme god - the Ormazd, or good spirit,, of the Zoroastrian creed - must be abandoned. God consecrated Cyrus to be his instrument in restoring his chosen people to their land, not because the King of Elam was a monotheist, but because the period of Jewish trial and punishment had come to an end." It has been thought by some that this prophecy of Isaiah concerning Cyrus was brought to that king's notice, and so helped to secure its own fulfilment. It is agreed that this Cyrus was a singularly just and noble monarch. Dr. H. Bushnell says, "So beautiful is the character and history of Cyrus, the person here addressed, that many have doubted whether the sketch given by Xenophon was not intended as an idealizing or merely romantic picture... And what should he be but a model of all princely beauty, of bravery, of justice, of impartial honour to the lowly, of greatness and true magnanimity in every form, when God has girded him, unseen, to be the minister of his own great and sovereign purposes to the nations of his time?" Dean Stanley says, "Though we know but little of the individual character of Cyrus, he first of the ancient conquerors, appears in other than a merely despotic and destructive aspect. It can hardly be without foundation that both in Greek and Hebrew literature he is represented as the type of a just and gentle prince." Three subjects are suggested.
I. THE DISTINCT ENDOWMENTS OF MEN INDICATE DIVINE CALL TO DIVINE WORK, In the Divine sovereignty and wisdom there is a proportionate distribution of gifts among men. In the figure of our Lord's parable, we may say, the master of the house calls together his servants, and delivers to each one some portion of his goods in trust. Very marked are the varieties of endowment and ability in a single family. We are often made to feel that God has given special gifts to some of our children; but we should see that these cases are only prominent illustrations of the truth that he has given some gifts to all. We all have some special work to do for God in the world, and so we all have some special endowments for the doing of it. Every man is called of God, girded by God, surnamed by God, and the moment when he clearly sees what his lifework is, is the moment when he becomes conscious of his call. Bushnell says, "What do the Scriptures show us but that God has a particular care for every man, a personal interest in him, and a sympathy with him and his trials, watching for the uses of his one talent as attentively and kindly, and approving him as heartily in the right employment of it, as if he had given him ten? and what is the giving out of the talents itself but an exhibition of the fact that God has a definite purpose, charge, and work, be it this or that, for every man?" "Every human soul has a complete and perfect plan cherished for it in the heart of God - a Divine biography marked out, which it enters into life to live." The point on which we dwell is that the sense of power, the consciousness of power, is the witness to God's call; and the responsibility of using the power to do God's work comes with the consciousness. To say "I can" is to affirm that there is something God wants me to do.
II. THE PRECISE TIME IN WHICH A MAN HAS TO LIVE INDICATES DIVINE CALL AND WORK. Each one comes into being at the "fulness of time" for him. It is sometimes said that great preachers and thought-leaders of the past would do little if they lived now. The saying is a foolish one. They belonged to their age, and were endowed for their age. The Divine lead was as marked in the time of their appearing as in the gifts with which they were endowed. In each age God wants men
(1) who can represent the age, and find expression for the average thought of the age;
(2) men who are before the age, and can lead the age up towards the thoughts and things that are to be; and
(3) men who are behind the age, and zealously preserve the good things of the past that may seem to be imperilled. A man may say, "God has called me to live just now; then I may be quite sure that there is something which he wants me to do for him, and which he has fitted me to do, just now." Thus viewed, life grows solemn and holy for us all. We have our own work to do.
III. THE PROVIDENTIAL CULTURE OF MEN FITS THEM FOE DOING GOD'S PRECISE WORK FOR THEM. This is often imperfectly apprehended. We are precisely endowed, and set forth in the world at just the right time; but it is important that we further trace how God cultures the gifts by the influences with which he surrounds us, and the providences he arranges for us. Often when men have found out what their life-work is to be, they gain the key to the meaning of the scenes and circumstances through which they have been led. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.