That said of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built…
We will observe a few facts in support of my contention that history is the record of a beneficent development.
1. The governments of the world. In the early time government was simply for a few; there was no monarchy but force; there was no place for love. In the present time, in the immortal words of our President,. "Government is of the people, by the people, for the people. The word which I best remember of any which I heard spoken in London was by Dr. Bevan, "Of old, government was for the few; to-day, government is for the many." And that is what things have been moving towards as the years have been passing.
2. Take another illustration, and that from the realm of religion. We think of one God; but to those early Hebrews there were many gods. They were not those who believed simply in one God for all the world. They believed in Jehovah as the God able to subdue all the gods of the heathen. They had not reached, except in the person of a few of their leaders, the sublime altitude of modern times of one pervading and all-enduring Unity, one holy, spiritual, true, and loving God. What" was their worship?
3. We come to another illustration quite as familiar. We hear very much in our time concerning the social condition of the labouring people. The great dumb multitudes have found a voice; and every now and then, some man, ignorant of history, writes to say the rich were never so rich, and the poor never so poor; the condition of one class was never so luxurious, the condition of the other class was never so mean. He does not know what the condition of the masses was in the time when the pyramids were built, in the time when the Caesars ruled in Rome and doled out corn to the multitude. He has not read the history of Great Britain, or of France, or of any other nation of Europe, or on the face of the earth. The condition of the world is improving. In the old time the condition of the woman was that of a thing or an animal; she belonged to her husband. She is a woman now, the equal of her husband. In the old time the child was absolutely under the power of the father. If the child was an orphan he was put on the street. Now, to use the phrase of a contemporary writer, "If he hath no father and if he hath no mother, he becomes the child of the public." What mean our charities? Conclusion —
(1) Providence is compelling progress and no individual can possibly prevent it.
(2) Not all are equally worthy of blessing, of commendation; although all may bear their part in bringing about the glorious consummation.
(3) Cyrus shows to us the sweep of the Divine purpose. God's plan includes the nations and the ages. There is a place for Greece, for India, for China, for Rome, for Great Britain, there is a place for every nation as well as for Judah. There is a place for Napoleon, and Confucius, and Buddha, because there was a place for Cyrus.
(4) But the other One to whom that glorious name was applied, the Lord's Shepherd, shows us what Cyrus does not show us, namely, the nature of that plan, revealing to us the nature of the One who made the plan. I look upon the face of Jesus Christ, and I see there is a person, and a sacrificial purpose, and a sacrifice which reaches even to the uttermost.
(A. H. Bradford, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.