Does God have a plan that embraces all history? That is a question that all people have interest in, and that is a question that finds an answer in Isaiah 46:8-11.
Isaiah chapters 40-48 revolve largely around God’s plan to take Israel out of its bondage to the Babylonian exile. Israel had repeatedly broken the Mosaic Covenant and eventually fell under the curses of the covenant (Deut. 28:15-68). This culminated with Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon invading Judah and taking the people of Israel into exile in 605 B.C. For Israel, it appeared that she was now hopelessly cut off from all hope of a future with Yahweh in the promised land. NOT SO, says God through his prophet Isaiah.
You see, God had a plan to set Israel free from its bondage to Babylon, and that plan would find its outworking by the way that God would raise up a Persian king by the name of Cyrus (Isa. 44:28; cf. 41:2). Here in Isaiah 46:8-11 God explains that the day was coming that a Persian king by the name of Cyrus would rise up and give Israel its freedom to return to Judea and rebuild their temple. From a human perspective, all of this was simply the outworking of world history with human beings making their own free choices (namely to invade and conquer other nations and to tax them as subject nations), but the Word of God tells us that none of these events (nor any other events of history) were random events. In reality, all of these events were the outworking of God’s eternal plan.
In 46:8-9, God calls His rebellious people Israel to recognize and believe that He is God, and there is no one like Him. What evidence does God have that He is God and that there is no one like Him? The answer is that He is the only One who can tell you what the future will be even before it happens. Even from the very beginning of all time, the true God is the One who is able to predict the future, and the reason is because in reality the unfolding is human history is nothing less than God bringing a fulfillment to His eternal plan, i.e., His eternal purpose (cf. 5:19; 14:24, 26; 25:1; 44:26; 46:11; Eph. 1:11) and good pleasure (cf. 44:28; 48:14; 53:10; Eph. 1:11). To be specific, says God, My plan and purpose will involve, “calling a bird of prey from the beast, the man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it (Isa. 46:11). Who is this “bird of prey from the east?” It is none other than Cyrus, the Persian king whom God first announced in 41:2 and named by name in 44:28. He is the one whom God calls My “shepherd” (44:28) and My “anointed one” (45:1). Cyrus is the one God has chosen to raise up and fulfill His plans.
The answer is Yes, God does have a plan that embraces all history, the good, the bad, and the ugly (cf. Gen. 45:1-8; 50:20). By the outworking of His providence, this plan includes the free choices of human beings, both saved and unsaved (cf. Acts 2:23; 4:27-28), but this much is clear: God is in control. The implications for you and me today are the same as they were for Israel 2,700 years ago: We need to not fear what life may bring, but keep trusting the Lord (Isa. 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1).
Love, Pastor Tim