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1. Reflecting on your high school graduating class, was there anyone whom you thought would never amount to much? What became of that person? What has become of those thought “most likely to succeed”?
2. What outrageous success have you experienced which led you to say, “There must be a God!”?
3. What truth about God is stressed in chapter 44:24? In verses 25 – 26a? How do these truths confirm the promises given in verses 26b – 28? As an exile who had no freedom to leave Babylon, much less considering rebuilding Jerusalem, would you have responded to these promises with hope or with cynicism? Why?
4. In light of this prophecy, how might the exiles feel as they heard rumors of Cyrus’ conquests and approach to Babylon?
5. Cyrus entered Babylon by diverting the flow of the Euphrates River (which flowed through the city), so that his army could enter via the river bed? How does chapter 44:27 interpret this action? What does that imply about the relationship between God’s actions and Cyrus’ plans?
6. Although “the servant” in Isaiah 42:1 – 7 does not refer only to Cyrus, what aspects of this servant does he represent (see Isaiah 42:6, 7)?
7. In the past, only Israelite kings were called God’s anointed. What is the significance of God’s using this title for a pagan king?
8. Why does God give victory after victory to Cyrus (chapter 45:3 – 6)? Since no other deported people ever maintained their ethnic and religious heritage, how will the re-establishment of the Jewish people fulfill these purposes (verses 6 – 8)?
9. Several times in this section God repeats that there is no god but Him. Why is this being stressed? Does God’s deliverance of the Jews from Babylon by the hand of a Persian prove this claim? How so? What does this communicate to the Jews? To the nations?
10. Persian religion taught that a god of light and a god of darkness were in perpetual warfare with each other. What light does this shed on chapter 45:7? Why does God bring about these judgments and blessings (verse 6)?
11. Evidently, some people objected to Isaiah’s declaration that God would use a pagan as the means of deliverance. How does God refute that objection (verses 11 – 13)?
12. Do you think that God still shapes all of history around the purpose of saving His people? What are the implications of saying yes to that? Of saying no?
13. How might the purpose of God be traced in some recent world event? What current event especially disturbs you because you cannot see any sense in it? From this passage, what should be your response to that event?
14. What does the continued existence of the Jews, despite their long history of persecution and oppression, show us about God?
15. In what ways are the actions of Cyrus like the work of Christ? What other Christ-like figures today do you think God might be using to carry out His purposes?
16. Do you have any outstanding quarrels with your “Maker”? What are they? What should you do to resolve them?