Advent 2020 – All Who Make Idols
Based upon: Isaiah 44.24-45.13.
By Emily Hudghton, Church Leader Wynyard – Please Share Widely
In these challenging times, let me ask you today, what’s your Cyrus?
This question is inspired by today’s reading, Isaiah 44:25-45:13. Let me explain…
In the Bible, a key image used over and over again to symbolize the dangers and evils of life lived without God is the city of Babylon. And just under 600 years before Jesus was born, God’s people from Judah were captured from their homeland, and deported en masse to Babylon: men, women and children. For the people of God, this event was the worst imaginable – torn away from their homeland, it left them completely devastated and shook their faith to the core. They fully expected that none of their children or children’s children would ever see their home again. Where was God in all of this?
But about 50 years later things took an unexpected and even more terrifying turn. Babylon was then conquered by a superpower empire led by a formidable King – Cyrus. If Babylon was to be feared, how much more should they fear the one who could conquer it?? How much worse could it get?
And as we’ve just endured a second lockdown and are facing a challenging winter, and as families, businesses and churches are struggling, some of us may feel we’re facing our Cyrus. It could leave us devastated, and shake our faith.
But for us, like for God’s people then, it’s not the end of the story.
In fact, in our reading, God speaks directly to Cyrus, utterly unafraid. The King’s power was no obstacle to God. Instead, God announces that he is going do the unthinkable: to use Cyrus to fulfil his purposes and bring salvation to God’s people: he declares that Cyrus will let all of them go home.
‘You heavens above, rain down my righteousness… let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish.’
And so it does – God’s people are saved. Cyrus, against all odds, makes the astounding decision to allow them to go home.
So my challenge to you is – what’s your Cyrus at the moment? What seems unshakable, immovable, bigger than you?
Because God proves to us again and again, through the pages of scripture and in our own lives, and down the ages, that he is not scared or intimidated. He is relentlessly, passionately, fiercely for his people. He is for you, and he is for his church. He is a God who can and does do the impossible. His purposes will be accomplished and no Cyrus or coronavirus or anything else will stand in the way.
So take a moment to identify your Cyrus, and hold it before God in your mind as we pray.
Thank you God that you are fearless in the face of the things which seem overwhelming. Thank you that you face them down on our behalf with fierce love, and that we can expect you to come through for us. Help us to put our trust afresh in you today. Amen.