EVIL PERSISTS, BUT GOD RULES
People the world over are familiar with the word messiah, if only because it has been made famous as the title of the English oratorio by George Frideric Handel. Within Christendom, “the Messiah” is the term applied specifically to Jesus Christ as the One who came to fulfill Old Testament messianic prophecies. God’s Messiah was to suffer for the sins of the world and inaugurate the coming age of peace during which He would reign as God’s anointed ruler over all the earth.
Messiah is the English rendering of an Old Testament (Hebrew) word meaning “anointed one.” Clearly, Jesus Christ fulfilled the prophecies of God’s divine Messiah (“Anointed One”) foretold in Daniel 9:25–27. Jesus Christ was anointed as the divine King of kings, just as Saul and David were anointed as earthly kings of Israel (1 Sam. 15:17; 16:13). But if we dig down to yet a deeper level, we will discover that there is more than one anointed one mentioned in the Old Testament. Knowing about at least one of these other individuals unlocks insights into how God manages world affairs, despite the presence of evil.
One of these other anointed ones was the Persian king Cyrus (Isa. 45:1). God called this pagan king by name (v. 3) and assigned him the mission of conquering the Babylonians, the people who had taken Israel into captivity. Although this king did not even know the God of Israel, he was anointed “for the sake of Jacob [God’s] servant” (v. 4). Why? To release the Israelites from captivity so they could return to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (Ezra 1:1–3). The anointed of God always fulfill the purposes of God in history.
As you look around the stage of world affairs, you may be looking at a ruler who has been similarly anointed by God. Like Cyrus, such a ruler may not at first, or ever, be cognizant of having been “anointed” by God. But such a ruler will help set the stage for the Messiah—Jesus Christ—who will return to rule in righteousness over all the earth. That is the confidence and comfort of every believer.
Even evil rulers serve the ultimate goal of righteousness on earth.