Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'll See Your Jew, and Raise You A Persian

My last post about Gamaliel was just me warming up. Gamaliel's grace coupled with his persistent Jewyness posed such a challenge for the early church that stories sprang up in the 2nd century claiming he had secretly been converted later in life. What? This good and honorable man who looked out for us...damned? Can't be! Can't! Unfortunately, the historical record from his time doesn't support these assertions. Ah well.

So...what is necessary to be "saved?" Just calling Jesus Lord doesn't cut it. One must do God's will, presumably. Be an instrument in His hands. But it goes deeper than that. You've got to be filled with God, anointed by the Spirit in the same way that Christ was anointed.

With that in mind, let's take a look at Cyrus of Persia. Here we have a big boss daddy pagan, the emperor of a pagan empire, who hopefully wasn't as outrageously pierced and metrosexual as Xerxes in 300.

Yet in the book of the prophet Isaiah, we hear Cyrus described as God's "shepherd" (Isaiah 44:29). We hear that God raises up Cyrus "in his righteousness." (Isaiah 45:13) We hear...this one's a doozy...that Cyrus is God's "anointed." (Isaiah 45:1). In the Hebrew, this verse calls this pagan emperor meshiach, the royal title which we translate elsewhere as "messiah."

So the Bible calls him righteous, calls him God's shepherd, calls him...messiah. What do we do with this guy? I don't think he ever came up at altar call.