Blog 16: Isaiah 49-50. Act 9.

A Light to Nations PW Service

Sunday 3 February 2013 11.00am

Act 9 takes us one more generation on. Cambyses (Cyrus’s son and successor) has been on a campaign to consolidate and expand the empire as far as Egypt. In the third year of his absence in Egypt there is a rebellion at home and he sets out homewards to quell it but dies in Palestine on the homeward journey[1]. His secretary Darius is acclaimed by the troops, though he has no familial legitimacy to claim the crown, and after a short struggle against the usurpers, succeeds to the Persian throne.

He is anxious to stabilize the region and he confirms the edict of Cyrus and equips and sends the second ‘return of the exiles’ led by Zerubbabel[2].

So this Act sees Darius replace Cyrus as the ‘servant of the Lord’ to effect the return – but the passage also reflects the reluctance of many of the exilic Jews to go back. Later the scene changes to Jerusalem and the complaints of the people there – rebuilding was difficult – the locals who had had free reign over the area for 70 years reluctantly saw the land taken back by the original owners. But your builders will overtake your destroyers is God’s promise.

The new message is that they are to be ‘a light to the nations’ – not to live to themselves, to hold the call of God as personal possession but to share the message of a God who rules the universe and brings salvation to the people and justice to the lands.

What more appropriate message for a PW[3] service.

 


[1] Herodotus suggests it was suicide but no other evidence for that.

[2] For the four separate returns see Ezra/Nehemiah.

[3] Presbyterian Women – a Mission support organization for women in the Presbyterian Church whose Annual Service is this Sunday.