Day 212: God's Instrument
Isaiah 45:1-13 Cyrus, King of Persia, was a special instrument for the fulfillment of God’s plan to return the Jewish people to their homeland. His conquest of Babylon and the liberation of the deported Jews were so vital that he was called the Lord’s “anointed,” a word normally reserved for prophets and Kings of Israel. God is at liberty to use even nonbelievers to accomplish his will. Some of the Church Fathers saw Cyrus as a type of Christ (TYPOLOGY!!), who received the fullness of anointing by the Spirit in order to save all people from sin. (CCC 436)
Ch 45:3-6 God calls each of us by name, inviting us to know him, to love him, and to share in his divine life. (CCC 2591)
Ch 45:5-8 After the sin of our first parents, the gates of Heaven were barred until the Redemption of the human race was accomplished by the Death and Resurrection of Christ. (CCC 304, 2794-2795)
Ch 45:6-7 I am the Lord...these things: Some ancient faiths (some of which still exist in one form or another) believed in duel deities or universal principles, one good and the other evil. Among these was Zoroastrianism, which developed in Persia around the sixth century BC. These verses affirm that there is only one God, who is not the cause of evil but permits the misuse of free will expressed in evil deeds. There is no other god or evil principle that is responsible for evil as was taught by these ancient philosophies and religions. (CCC 415, 1733)
Ch 45:14-24 There is but one God, the God of Israel. Therefore, in him only is there salvation and everlasting life.
Every knee...shall swear: Paul paraphrases this verse in his Epistle to the Philippians (2:10-11). St. John Paul II stated, “The invitation to adore and the offer of salvation is directed to all peoples,” which gives “a universal dimension [that] speaks in the name of those who have not yet had the grace to know Christ” (General Audience, October 31, 2001)
Ch 45:15 Truly, you are...hide yourself: When Moses asked God for his name, God’s answer was at once ambiguous and revealing: “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14). God’s answer to Moses gave the people of Israel a way to refer to him (although they would never dare to speak his name) and thus to know him more personally. God’s name signifies his absolute transcendence and infinite perfection, a God who cannot be described adequately in limited human language and understanding. A third-century BC Greek translation renders this, “Thou art God and we did not know it,” which some Father of the Church interpreted as a hint of the divinity of Christ. (CCC 206)
Ch 45:22-24 The fundamental message of the prophets in the Old Testament as well as that of John the Baptist in the New Testament was the urgency of repentance and conversion. (CCC 201)
Ch 46:1-13 While the lifeless pagan idols were brought from place to place, the faithful of Israel were carried by God from the first moment of life in their mothers’ wombs to their natural death.
Ezekiel 6:1-14 These verses make mention that, from a certain vantage point in Babylon, the mountains in the Promised Land were in view. The sight of the mountains represented all that the Jews had lost and offered them a consolation in their exile. Many of these mountains and other “high places” also served as sites for pagan worship and idolatry in which many Jews had participated, for which they were subsequently punished. Only a mere remnant of the people would remain after the judgment had been carried out.
Clap your hands, and stamp your foot: Such signs of joy on the part of the exiles led them to understand that the exile was ultimately a purification intended to lead them to spiritual renewal. (CCC 1502, 1505)
Ch 7:1-13 The judgment day, from which no one would escape, was near. This reference was not to the Final Judgment; rather, it was to the imminent attack by the Babylonians.
Blossomed...budded: He compared the budding of pride and wickedness with the budding of a tree, indicating that the people had to take full responsibility for their transgressions and face the consequences.
Ch 7:14-27 Not only would the siege bring catastrophe to Judah but also it would result in the utter shame of defeat.
Knees weak as water: Every survivor would be overwhelmed by fear.
Baldness: Hair loss in men was seen as a sign of shame or disfavor with God.
Ch 7:27 Given the corruption among influential civic and religious officials, the people would be deprived of effective leadership.
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS!
The beginning of Isaiah Ch 45 is INCREDIBLE
At the end of Isaiah Ch 44 we hear this name, CYRUS
Isaiah 44:28, “...’He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’...”
AND THEN...OH MY GOSH!!
Isaiah 44:28, “...saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”
Isaiah 45:1, “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and uncover the loins of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed…”
ALL THESE THINGS!
Cyrus did not exist FOR A LONG TIME
The Lord PROPHESIED that King Cyrus of Persia WOULD COME ALONG
And that not only would he DEFEAT THE NATIONS
The Persians defeated the Babylonians who defeated the Assyrians
He would send the people of Israel BACK TO THE FUTURE!!! No...just kidding 🤪
He would send the people of Israel BACK TO JERUSALEM!!
Jerusalem shall be REBUILT
The Temple foundation shall laid and be REBUILT
THIS IS REALLY INCREDIBLE!
Here is someone, Cyrus, who DOES NOT KNOW THE LORD GOD
He follows HIS OWN gods
He follows HIS OWN THING
Here is God
CYRUS: GOD’S INSTRUMENT
We recognize that GOD CAN USE ALL
EVERYTHING in the world BELONGS TO GOD
EVEN IF PEOPLE DON’T KNOW IT!
EVERYTHING BELONGS TO GOD!!
So there are ways in which God can WRITE THIS STORY WITH CROOKED LINES
And God DOES THIS
GOD WRITES THIS STORY WITH CROOKED LINES
Cyrus is his ANOINTED
He is the one that God has in store to bring the people of Israel OUT OF EXILE and BACK HOME TO JERUSALEM
THIS IS JUST INCREDIBLE!
After this, God has a message to Isaiah about IDOLATRY
We already heard earlier
We keep hearing it A LOT
We go back to Isaiah Ch 44 THE FOLLY OF IDOL WORSHIP
It’s really interesting because Isaiah talks about a tree that grows
It might be an Oak or some other kind of tree
The person takes the trunk of the tree
Part of the trunk is used to cook meals
Part of the trunk is used to make fire so they can warm themselves
Part of the trunk is carved and fashion INTO THEIR OWN GOD
Isaiah basically asks, “Isn’t that just RIDICULOUS? Isn’t that just complete FOOLISHNESS?”
The same tree
The same wood
That is used to warm themselves and cook their food is of the same tree, of the same wood, that they now BOW DOWN AND WORSHIP
THIS IS SO INTERESTING!
All the different ways we can TURN TO IDOLATRY
Isaiah 45:9, “‘Woe to him who strives with his Maker, an earthen vessel with the potter! Does the clay say to him who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”
I LOVE THAT IMAGE!
Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making? Your work has no handles. Listen, it shouldn’t be like this. It should be DIFFERENT.”
THAT IS INCREDIBLE!
How often do we TELL GOD, “Here is how it SHOULD be. Here’s how things SHOULD BE GOING.”
Not only is there FOOLISHNESS about carving a “god” out of wood
But also the FOOLISHNESS like TREATING the TRUE GOD like He is our idol
These are the TWO EXTREMES of idolatry
MAKING A FALSE GOD
TAKING THE REAL GOD AND TREATING HIM LIKE AN IDOL
Like he is our TOY
Like he is our MAGIC WAND
Like he is our MAGIC CRYSTAL BALL
Basically, thinking that we can give God COUNSEL
Basically, thinking that we can CRITICIZE what God does
“What are you doing? Your work has no handles, it should be different.”
IT IS INCREDIBLE THAT WE ALL DO THIS!!
I’m so grateful to the Lord for Isaiah to ILLUMINATE THIS
TO REVEAL THAT THIS IS IN ALL OF OUR HEARTS!
Now on to Ezekiel
Keep in mind that Ezekiel is in the midst of the Exile
There are ways in which these people have suffered
THEY ARE SCATTERED
These images will come up AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN
These are the ways in which MANY people have experienced the CONSEQUENCES OF TURNING AWAY FROM THE LORD
The point of all of this is uttered SO MANY TIMES in Ezekiel Chs 6 and 7
What is it?
After all these things, then they will know that I am the Lord.
Ezekiel 7:27, “...they shall know that I am the Lord.”
God says this through Ezekiel SO MANY TIMES
After EVERYTHING that happens, they will KNOW
We are going to hear this AGAIN AND AGAIN
All of these things that you have ENDURED
All of these things that you have SUFFERED
They are a CONSEQUENCE of your decisions
They are NOT GOD ABANDONING YOU
This is so you will KNOW that GOD IS THE LORD
THE LORD HAS CLAIMED YOU!!
THE LORD WANTS YOU BACK!!
THAT IS SO INCREDIBLE!!
Even after God allows the desolation of the Temple
Ezekiel even talks about this
How people will come into the temple, these are the Babylonians, and they will DESECRATE the Temple
The Babylonians will even go into the secret places in the Temple aka The Holy of Holies
There are THREE PHASES of the Exile
Phase 1: Daniel
Phase 2: Ezekiel
Phase 3: The Babylonians take everyone to Babylon, except the blind, lame, diseased, anyone they didn’t want
That’s when Babylon utterly destroy the city and the Temple
Ezekiel is saying, “God is going to let that happen. God is going to let them desecrate the ACTUAL TEMPLE because YOU HAVE DESECRATED that actual Temple in not giving God the WORSHIP he deserves.”
Does that make sense? 🤔
Here is God who is going to ALLOW this HORRIBLE thing to happen, where his presence ABIDES
Because those who are in charge of taking care of the Temple HAVE NOT TAKEN CARE OF THE TEMPLE
They already DESECRATED it by their FALSE WORSHIP
Remember at the beginning of the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, he had this vision in his 30th year
Ezekiel was a LEVITICAL PRIEST
That means he would have spent his EARLY LIFE training to be a priest
In the very year that he would have SERVED in the Temple, he found himself in EXILE
So there is this horrible weight of grief upon him
At the same time, we heard that Ezekiel would carry the weight of the people
He would carry the sins of the people UPON HIMSELF
This is one of the reasons he is there lying on his side for 390 days PLUS 40
He is bearing the INIQUITY of the people
So here is Ezekiel who still gets to act as a priest
That’s one of the roles of the priest, right?
To deal with the sins of the people
To carry the weight of their iniquity upon himself
That is why JESUS IS THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST
Jesus TRULY and UTTERLY, and FULLY carries the weight of sinful humanity UPON HIMSELF
So Ezekiel gets to participate in this EVEN THOUGH he is not able to give TEMPLE WORSHIP
Ezekiel is able to participate in the ACTION OF THE TEMPLE
Which is that SACRIFICE OF HIMSELF
Which is that SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT
Which is that SACRIFICE OF TAKING THE WEIGHT OF THE SINS OF THE PEOPLE UPON HIMSELF!
That’s an INCREDIBLE WAY in which God still does fulfill Ezekiel’s priesthood, even though he was not able to WORSHIP in the actual Temple as God had asked.
Ezekiel was able to do it AS HE WAS ABLE
That is a REMARKABLE THING for all of us to recognize
As we have been BAPTIZED, we are anointed PRIEST, PROPHET, and KING/QUEEN
God allows us to fulfill the role that he has set aside for us that he has commissioned us to fill
So if this is one of the WORST days or WORST seasons of your life, know that you are FULFILLING, you CAN FULFILL, you have the ABILITY TO FULFILL that call to be PRIEST, PROPHET, or KING/QUEEN every moment of every day of our lives
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much. Thank you for giving us your Word. Thank you for speaking to us. Thank you for showing your heart to us this day and every day. Thank you for bringing us to Day 212. Lord God, I am so grateful for you and your love and your faithfulness, even when we are far from faithful, even when we are far from perfect. You just bring us back. You bring us back to pressing play. You bring us back to this opportunity to just simply listen to your Word proclaimed. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for not giving up on us and help us always to never ever give up on you or your Grace. Help us to hear your commands. Help us to hear your voice and say yes to you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”