Scripture Text: Isaiah 45: 1-3
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him— and the gates shall not be closed: 2I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
As this passage begins, we get good King Cyrus, the Persian conqueror who is known for taking over Babylon in the 540’s and is credited with being the one who allowed the exiles to return to their home. So, the writer imagines this foreign ruler as God’s anointed even though it is likely that Cyrus didn’t even know God at all. But Cyrus is known as a liberator even today. Interestingly, the “cyrus cylinder”, Cyrus’ supposed policies on liberation and human rights, was declared by the United Nations to be an early declaration of human rights in 1971.
So, all of that said, there have been many times when what is seen as God’s work does not even involve persons who even see themselves that way. The writer of this passage called this work the “treasures of darkness”, the hidden work of God. The truth is, so much of God’s creative work is not that obvious to us when it is happening. As much as we would like God to make it easy on us by extravagantly broadcasting the ongoing coming of God’s Kingdom into our lives, we are over and over again blessed with small treasures hidden in the darkness that depict evidence of Light. Rather than giving us proof of God’s existence, God instills faith in our lives that we might look toward the Light.
Think about it. God did not come into the world via a perfectly choreographed event in an impeccably decorated venue. Instead, God tiptoed into the world as a baby born to immigrant visitors from a little-known town in a small place on the outskirts of the gated holy city. God came into a world that wanted something different, something grander, something stronger and more powerful than what the world got. God was laid in a feed stall surrounded not by armies and elites but by those who needed God most. God came into the darkness as one of us and therein lies our evidence of Light. It’s everything we need. Because sometimes what is being shown to us is not the full-lit picture but rather the wonderful glimmers of Light in the darkness that guide us toward the Light.
Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty if waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can happen only if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure. (Macrina Wiederkehr, “A Tree Full of Angels”)
Grace and Peace,