Isaiah 45:1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden
"In 539 B.C., Cyrus, King of Persia, entered Babylon as a conquering hero and was acclaimed king of Babylon by the priests of the Babylonian god Marduk. Although Cyrus had become the king of the Persians already in 557 B.C., it was his entry into Babylon that marked the beginning of his reign as universal ruler, 'king of the four quarters of the earth.' We thus read in the book of Ezra, 'Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom.' (Ezra 1:1.) This 'first year' would have been 539 B.C., and the proclamation which follows in Ezra 1:2-4 charges the people of Judah to return from their Babylonian exile to their homeland, where they should build a temple to the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem.
"Even though the decree quoted in the first chapter of Ezra is not found in the preserved royal inscriptions of Cyrus, the sentiment contained in that decree, that of returning exiled peoples to their homelands and to the worship of their own gods, is an authentic reflection of Cyrus's policy. The Cyrus Cylinder, which is an account in the Babylonian language of Cyrus's conquest of Babylon and his subsequent policy, states: 'I gathered all their former inhabitants and returned to them their habitations. Furthermore, I resettled upon the command of Marduk, the great lord, all the gods of Sumer and Akkad whom Nabonidus [the last king of Babylon, defeated by Cyrus] has brought into Babylon to the anger of the lord of the gods, unharmed, in their former chapels, the places which make them happy.' (James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955, p. 316).
"Cyrus thus reversed the policy of preceding rulers: instead of deporting conquered peoples, he restored them to their homelands. The Assyrians had deported the people of the kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C., and the Babylonians had deported the Jews in 587/6 B.C. But Cyrus was broad-minded in his dealings with conquered peoples and was detached enough in his adherence to his own religion that he was able to grant concessions to others. He established a remarkably farsighted and effective administrative system for the far-flung Persian Empire. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah give us a number of fascinating glimpses into the workings of this system. Cyrus, one of the most remarkable rulers in history, was thus able to carry out a mission that had been foreseen two hundred years earlier by the prophet Isaiah: 'Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.' (Isa. 45:1.)" (John M. Lundquist, "Life in Ancient Biblical Lands," Ensign, Dec. 1981, 43)
Isaiah 45:7 I make peace, and create evil
B. H. Roberts
Lest some text-proofer should retort upon me and cite the words of Isaiah-"I make peace and create evil"-the only text of scripture ascribing the creation of evil to God-I will anticipate so far as to say that it is quite generally agreed that no reference is made in the words of Isaiah to "moral evil;" but to such evils as may come as judgments upon people for their correction, such as famine or tempest or war; such an "evil" as would stand in natural antithesis to "peace," which word precedes, "I create evil," in the text-"I make peace and create"-the opposite to peace, "The evil of afflictions and punishments, but not the evil of sin' (Catholic Comment on Isaiah 45:7). Meantime we have the clearest scriptural evidence that moral evil is not a product of God's: "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." That is to say, God has nothing to do with the creation of moral evil; "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James i: 13-15). (New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909], vol. 3., Chap. XL, note 60)
Isaiah 45:9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker
"During the second temple period it was easy to entertain ambivalent ideas on the centrality of the temple and its cult. The beginnings of the second temple were most inauspicious. Jeremiah had predicted that the return from Babylon to Israel would be more magnificent than the exodus from Egypt; the new redemption would completely eclipse the old one. But this did not come to pass. Instead, a pagan king issued an edict allowing the Jews to return to their homeland and to rebuild their temple. No Davidic king, no miracles, no glory, no political freedom, just an edict issued by the Persian bureaucracy in the name of Cyrus the Great. Was this the return promised by the Lord? Many Jews objected...
"Shame on him who argues with his maker. Though naught but a potsherd of earth. Shall the clay say to the potter, 'what are you begetting?' or a woman, 'what are you bearing?' Thus said the Lord, Israel's holy one and maker. Will you question me on the destiny of my children? Will you instruct me about the work of my hands? It was I who made the earth and created man upon it. My own hands stretched out of the heavens and I marshalled all their host. It was I who roused him (Cyrus the Great) for victory, and who level all roads for him. He shall rebuild my city and let my exiled people go." (Truman G. Madsen, ed., The Temple in Antiquity: Ancient Records and Modern Perspectives [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1984], 155 - 157)
Isaiah 45:13 I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives
George Albert Smith
One hundred years before Cyrus, the general who captured Babylon, was born, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Isaiah that Cyrus should be his servant and say unto Jerusalem that it should be rebuilt (Isa. 44:28; Isa. 45:1). Babylon at that time was the greatest city in all the world, and was thought to be impregnable. Cyrus was not a Jew. Cyrus did not understand the old Testament, nor did he know of the part he was to play in the freeing of the captive Jews and rebuilding Jerusalem.
While Cyrus was besieging the city of Babylon the great king, Belshazzar of Babylon and his associates were using the sacred vessels that had been taken from the house of the Lord in Jerusalem to drink from (Dan. 5:1-31). It was a great debauch, and suddenly in the midst of it was seen a hand writing on the wall these words, "Me-ne, Me-ne, Tekel, U-phar-sin," and they could not read it (Dan. 5:25).
The Queen said to the King, "There is a Hebrew prophet among us. He can tell you what it means."
And so they went out and brought Daniel in and when Daniel saw the handwriting on the wall he could read it. It was not difficult for him. He was the servant of the Lord. He had the priesthood and he had honored it in a most marvelous way all down through his life.
The king and others felt perfectly secure, feeling that with food and provisions, and a river of water running through the city, not anything could come in to disturb them, and yet on that wall were written the words which, when interpreted, read, "You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, and your kingdom will be divided among the Medes and the Persians." At that very hour "my servant Cyrus" had diverted the river that went through the city from its channel and his army entered under the wall, which wall was so high that it could not be scaled or destroyed with any means or weapons that they had, and so wide that several chariots could ride abreast on the top.
When that gentile, if we may use that term, that alien to those that had had the priesthood and the blessings of the Lord, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, realized that the Lord had given him Babylon, he issued a proclamation freeing the Jewish captives and returning them to rebuild their city of Jerusalem. He not only took his own army and his own people but he gave them means to use in payment to the workers. (Conference Report, October 1948, pp. 180-190)
Isaiah 45:18 God himself that formed the earth... created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited
Neal A. Maxwell
Under the direction of his Father, Jesus was the Creator, not only of this world, but, as Paul wrote, of other worlds as well. (See Heb. 1:2-3.)
Elsewhere, we read: "And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten." (Moses 1:33.)
Why all this creating? Because the decreed and redemptive purpose of God the Father is to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.) This was the very purpose for this planet about which Isaiah spoke: "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited." (Isa. 45:18.)
This inhabited earth has thus become mankind's mortal "schoolhouse."
We rightly marvel and even worry over the earth's delicate ecological balances, the manner in which this planet is so tilted and orbited that it is inhabitable, with soil, seasons, and moisture. Moreover, Jesus, who formed this planet under the direction of the Father, likewise took as much care in planning the curriculum of this life's learning experiences as in planning the schoolhouse itself.
Thus, this act of creation was an act of divine love, fulfilling God's purpose to provide for all of us the needed experience of mortality. ("Our Acceptance of Christ," Ensign, June 1984, 70)
Neal A. Maxwell
Thus, it is from the scriptures that we learn of God's plans for mankind on this planet. He told us, through Isaiah, that He formed this earth to be inhabited (see Isa. 45:18). Through Moses, God described His purpose: "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Furthermore, by viewing the heavens and the galaxies, those who have eyes to see will see "God moving in his majesty and power" (D&C 88:47).
We are thus enveloped in a planned universe, and we live on a purposeful planet; and these truths describe "things as they really are" (Jacob 4:13). No wonder the gospel is such glorious and good news! ("God Will Yet Reveal," Ensign, Nov. 1986, 54)
Neal A. Maxwell
In summary, we see the world, life, and death differently. This is not a random, mutant planet with people who will be enveloped in nothingness; it is a special place, a planet with a purpose, for, as Isaiah observed, the Lord created it to be inhabited. (See Isa. 45:18.)
We are all stewards, and we ought to approach this planet and its resources as carefully as Adam dressed the Garden. In seeking to establish dominion over the earth, it ought to be a righteous dominion. Still, this earth is not a place we need to be so reluctant to leave. ("Talk of the Month," New Era, May 1971, 31)
Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth
Ezra Taft Benson
The Lord said, "Look unto me in every thought." (D&C 6:36.) Looking unto the Lord in every thought is the only possible way we can be the kind of men and women we ought to be.
The Lord asked the question of His disciples, "What manner of men ought ye to be?" He then answered His own question by saying, "Even as I am." (3 Ne. 27:27.) To become as He is, we must have Him on our minds-constantly in our thoughts. Every time we partake of the sacrament, we commit to "always remember him." (Moro. 4:3; Moro. 5:2; D&C 20:77, 79.)
If our thoughts make us what we are, and we are to be like Christ, then we must think Christlike thoughts. ("Think on Christ," Ensign, Mar. 1989, 4)
Isaiah 45:23 every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear
Neal A. Maxwell
Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Red Sea and of Sinai, the resurrected Lord!
One day, however, all flesh shall see him together. All knees shall bow in his presence, and all tongues confess his name. (See D&C 76:110-111; Philip. 2:10-11.) Knees which never before have assumed that posture for that purpose will do so then-promptly. Tongues which have never before spoken his name, except in gross profanity, will do so then-worshipfully. ("Our Acceptance of Christ," Ensign, June 1984, 74)
John A. Widstoe
The plan of salvation, conceived and proposed by our Heavenly Father, is for all of his children. Our Father will never cease to labor with our stubborn wills, until the last of his children has accepted the requirements of the gospel and has conformed to the plan of salvation. That may lead us into the far eternities, for though "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ," yet many will refuse to bend their wills to the requirements of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such persons must wait for the full blessings of the Lord, until their stubborn wills have learned obedience. However, since progress is eternal, no person has ever reached the end of salvation. Progress need never end. It must be said that such people cannot overtake those who were righteous from the beginning.
During this endless journey, man may rest secure in the eternal love of God. Our Father will help us forever. Never will he forsake us. He will ever seek to convert the sinner to better ways. It is probable that he will not consider his work complete until all of his children are on the road of progression." (Joseph Smith--Seeker after Truth, Prophet of God [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1951], 168)