Royalty and Ruin


Cyrus Sets the Exiles Free

More than a century before the birth of Cyrus, Inspiration had mentioned the work he would do in taking Babylon by surprise and in preparing the way for the release of the children of the captivity: “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—to subdue nations before him ..., to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze and cut the bars of iron.’” Isaiah 45:1, 2. RR 194.1

The Persian conqueror’s army unexpectedly entered the Babylonian capital by way of the river whose waters they had turned aside and through the inner gates that had carelessly been left open and unprotected. In these events the Jews had abundant evidence that Isaiah’s prophecy had been fulfilled literally. This should have been an unmistakable sign to them that God was shaping the affairs of nations in their behalf, for inseparably linked with the prophecy outlining Babylon’s capture and fall were these words: RR 194.2

“Thus says the Lord, ... ‘who says of Cyrus, “He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”” “‘He shall build My city and let My exiles go free, not for price nor reward,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 44:24, 28; 45:13. RR 194.3

The writings of Jeremiah set forth plainly the time for Israel’s restoration: “When seventy years are completed, ... I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity.” Jeremiah 25:12. “I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.” Jeremiah 29:14. RR 194.4

Daniel had studied these prophecies and others like them. Now, as events indicated the hand of God at work, Daniel gave special thought to the promises made to Israel. The Lord had declared, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” Verses 12, 13. RR 194.5

Shortly before Babylon’s fall, when Daniel was meditating on these prophecies and seeking God for understanding, he received a series of visions concerning the rise and fall of kingdoms. With the first vision, recorded in Daniel 7, God gave an interpretation, yet it did not make every point clear to the prophet. “My thoughts greatly troubled me,” he wrote, “and my countenance changed; but I kept the matter in my heart.” Daniel 7:28. RR 195.1