By Campus Missionary Mary Rowley, based on Isaiah 45:1-7
“God works in mysterious ways.” That’s a phrase tossed out there by Christians all the time. He works in mysterious ways. Sometimes he works through happiness and sometimes he works through pain, but usually, we imagine that he at least works through believers, right? He uses his people in order to advance the kingdom. He created us for that purpose, after all.
This passage of Isaiah is an interesting one. In it, God reveals that he will work through Cyrus. Who is Cyrus, you ask? Cyrus the Great was a military conqueror who took over Babylon. He was not a Jew, not even close, but God worked through him to advance the kingdom. This seems rather odd to me. Why did God not raise up a Jewish ruler? He had worked through Jewish warriors before, certainly – just look at Judges and 1st and 2nd Kings. Why then did he work through Cyrus?
God doesn’t answer that question directly. He doesn’t say why he chose Cyrus, but he does reveal his ultimate purpose, and it hasn’t changed. He speaks to Cyrus and says, “For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other” (verses 4-6). God worked through Cyrus for the advancing of the kingdom. He worked through Cyrus even though Cyrus did not believe in him or have any interest in him.
God works in mysterious ways, and sometimes, those are ways we would never come up with on our own. If God can work great things through an unbeliever like Cyrus, what more can he do through you? Pray that God will work through you in whatever ways he sees best, not in the ways you would necessarily prefer. His ways are always the best, no matter how mysterious they may be.