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Thread: How God might have raised up Cyrus (ref Is 44:28 and 45:1)

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    Over 500 post club Derf's Avatar
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    How God might have raised up Cyrus (ref Is 44:28 and 45:1)

    One of the arguments against Open Theism is the section of Isaiah that deals with Cyrus--even naming him by name as the chosen vehicle for rescuing God's people. The argument goes like this (from Bruce Ware as quoted by http://www.gfcto.com/articles/theolo...-open-theism):
    The fall of Assyria, the rise and fall of Babylon, the rise of Medo-Persia, the fall of Israel, the fall of Judah, the birth and naming of Cyrus, the life and growth of this particular king, his ongoing life into adulthood, his selection as king, his willingness to consider helping the Israelites, his decision to assist in rebuilding Jerusalem, and on and on. . . . Within each of these items is hidden a multitude of freewill choices that would affect everything about the outcome for that particular piece of human history.
    The idea for this thread came from a conversation I was having with @Jerry Shugart, here.

    My purpose is not so much to argue one way or another regarding whether Open Theism or Classical Theism better fits the passage, but to think about how God, who must have had his hand deeply in the events that led to Cyrus overcoming Babylon, might have done it. I first became intrigued with this idea when considering the Nineveh/Assyrian connection to Israel and to Cyrus.

    For reference, here are the two verses in Isaiah that mention Cyrus by name:
    That saith of 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. [Isa 44:28 KJV]
    Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; [Isa 45:1 KJV]

    Here is a possible timeline of the kings of Israel, Judah, the prophets, and the kings of nations around Israel/Judah. I say "possible", because I haven't bothered to compare it with others, but trust its accuracy practically unvetted. My point isn't to go into the weeds in terms of dates, but to see the general timeframes involved and compare some events to those general timeframes.
    Attachment 25151
    Another great source is Bishop Ussher's Annals of the World, which can be purchased for a lovely coffee table book at various places for $20 to $60, or you can download or read it here for free.

    Ussher makes two interesting statements about Cyrus's calling and naming (the numbers are like verse numbers in his Annals:
    797. While the king of Babylon thus ravaged in Judah, God prepared a worm which in due time should eat out this spreading tree. The cry of this poor people came to the Lord.
    ``O daughter of Babylon, wasted with misery, happy shall he be that shall reward thee, as thou
    hast served us, who shall take thy children and dash them against the stones,'' Ps 137:8
    798. For in this very year, was Cyrus the Media-Persian born whose father was a Persian and his
    mother a Mede, as I showed before. This very Nebuchadnezzar, at the hour of his death, as
    Abydenus has it, uttered this prophecy:
    ``There shall come a Persian Mule, who shall make use of your Devils, as his fellow-soldiers, to
    bring you into bondage:''
    799. This was also foretold by that Oracle given to Croesus:
    ``When a mule king, shall to the Medes be born, &c.''
    800. The Pythian Priests interpreted this to refer to Cyrus, who was to be born of a father and a
    mother of two different nations, a Persian and a Mede.

    And:
    801. As for the age of this Cyrus, Tully in his 1st book de Divinations, cited it from Dionysius a
    Persian writer, in this manner:
    ``The sun appeared to Cyrus in his sleep, standing at his feet. When Cyrus endeavoured to take
    the sun in his hands three times, the sun turned aside and went away. The Magi, who are
    counted as wise and learned men among the Persians, said that by his three attempts to take hold
    of the sun meant that he should reign 30 years. This came to pass accordingly, for he started to
    reign at the age of 40 and lived to the age of 70.''
    802. From which dream perhaps, so expounded by the magicians, Cyrus took his name; for, as
    Ctesias rightly says,
    ``Cyrus in the Persian language, means the sun:''

    The Cyrus of Isaiah was not the first Cyrus from Persia. Isaiah's is called "Cyrus II" by some sources and "Cyrus the Great" by others. The first Cyrus, according to Wikipedia, was his grandfather, but there's some question about the relationship, it seems. Around the time of Cyrus II's grandfather (whoever he was), the Persians were paying tribute to...guess who? The Assyrians, whose capitol was at Nineveh. So, it seems fairly clear that there could have been contact between the scattered 10 tribes and Cyrus's paternal grandfather.

    Israel is well known for being shepherds, and it seems like that some of these shepherds would have been transported by the Assyrians at the fall of Israel/the Northern tribes. Where did they transport them to? Tobias the elder is described in the Apocrypha that he was first carried away to Assyria, and later had access to guess where?...the principal city of Media, which was called Rages. (See Annals #633 and Apocrypha book Tobit 1:22 and following. In Tobit 2, is described how Tobias's son was wedded to a Hebrew girl from Ecbatana, another principle city of Media.

    Back to Cyrus...The Greeks gave us this legend about him (and his maternal grandfather this time):
    According to the legend, Astyages, the king of the Medes and overlord of the Persians, gave his daughter in marriage to his vassal in Persis, a prince called Cambyses. From this marriage Cyrus was born. Astyages, having had a dream that the baby would grow up to overthrow him, ordered Cyrus slain. His chief adviser, however, instead gave the baby to a shepherd to raise. When he was 10 years old, Cyrus, because of his outstanding qualities, was discovered by Astyages, who, in spite of the dream, was persuaded to allow the boy to live. Cyrus, when he reached manhood in Persis, revolted against his maternal grandfather and overlord. Astyages marched against the rebel, but his army deserted him and surrendered to Cyrus in 550 bce.

    Legends are most often untrustworthy, but the dream part and the shepherd part, and the chief advisor part, are not too farfetched in this story.

    Well, it would appear difficult for the Medes and Persians to come to power if they are vassals to Nineveh and the Assyrians. Interestingly enough, according to Ussher (quoting Polyhister), a guy named Nabopolassar, general of the army of Babylon, got together with Astyages (recognize that name?), governor of Media. Astyages gave his daughter to Nabopolassar's son, whose name happened to be Nebuchadnezzar. Those two (Astyages and Nabopolassar) were able to conquer Nineveh together, and start the events leading to the Medes and Persians beign released from the Assyrians. That seems to have been completed when a certain PharaohNecho came to help the Assyrians in a fight at Carchemish against Nebuchadnezzar. Good King Josiah went out to fight him, and was slain. Before he was slain, Necho sent a message to him:
    After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. [2Ch 35:20 KJV]
    But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? [I come] not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from [meddling with] God, who [is] with me, that he destroy thee not. [2Ch 35:21 KJV]
    Notice the connection? apparently Nebuchadnezzar was in reality Cyrus's uncle, if I'm understanding it right. And maybe that makes more sense of Nebuchadnezzar's prophecy about Cyrus, given above.

    I still have a lot more to look at on this, and I don't know when I'll find the time, but I think it's fascinating. And it seems the Lord was working to bring about His plan with Cyrus, just as Isaiah was saying.
    Last edited by Derf; January 12th, 2017 at 11:23 AM.

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    TOL Legend Jerry Shugart's Avatar
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    Let us look at this verse:

    "Who bids Cyrus be wise, and he shall perform all my will: who says to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and I will lay the foundation of my holy house" (Isa.44:28; LXX).

    If the LORD, through His foreknowledge, knew that Cyrus would say to Jerusalem that it "should be built" is there any chance that he would not do that?

    Of course not!

    From the beginning of his life Cyrus could have done nothing to avoid having that happen so his "will" in regard to this matter was not free to choose not to do it.

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    Over 500 post club Derf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Shugart View Post
    Let us look at this verse:

    "Who bids Cyrus be wise, and he shall perform all my will: who says to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and I will lay the foundation of my holy house" (Isa.44:28; LXX).

    If the LORD, through His foreknowledge, knew that Cyrus would say to Jerusalem that it "should be built" is there any chance that he would not do that?

    Of course not!

    From the beginning of his life Cyrus could have done nothing to avoid having that happen so his "will" in regard to this matter was not free to choose not to do it.
    I think you're looking at it in the wrong way--God can cause a person to do what God wants done without violating the will. He might do that with dreams, or with other nations' armies, or by scattering a disobedient people into a foreign land, where they will be encouraged to return to the Lord and by doing so, show themselves to be good counselors to the king of the foreign land.

    Remember the verse about how God can change a king's heart like a river of water (Prov 21:1)? Have you ever changed the direction of a stream? There are a couple ways to do it--either set up a dam of some sort that blocks the initial path or cut a new path (where river will take the new path because of gravity). Both of these use the "will" of the river to accomplish the goal of turning.

    I think God works that way with kings and with us much of the time.

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    TOL Legend Jerry Shugart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derf View Post
    I think you're looking at it in the wrong way--God can cause a person to do what God wants done without violating the will. He might do that with dreams, or with other nations' armies, or by scattering a disobedient people into a foreign land, where they will be encouraged to return to the Lord and by doing so, show themselves to be good counselors to the king of the foreign land.

    Remember the verse about how God can change a king's heart like a river of water (Prov 21:1)? Have you ever changed the direction of a stream? There are a couple ways to do it--either set up a dam of some sort that blocks the initial path or cut a new path (where river will take the new path because of gravity). Both of these use the "will" of the river to accomplish the goal of turning.

    I think God works that way with kings and with us much of the time.
    Very good points and I must admit that I have no answer to what you say.

    Thanks!

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    This is my story. This is my song. Tambora's Avatar
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    Cyrus!
    Very interesting story.

    This verse seems to be about him too.

    Isaiah 41:2 KJV
    (2) Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow.

    Praising my Savior all the day long

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    Derf (February 17th, 2017)

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