God promised to give "treasures of darkness", and "hidden riches" to an ancient Persian king named Cyrus. Here is what Isaiah wrote of this Gentile king, centuries before he was born:
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;
And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
The prophecy says that God will give "treasures of darkness", and "hidden riches of secret places" to Cyrus, the king of the Persians who took Babylon and freed the Jews from captivity. Indeed, many nations became subject to him, and the prophecy that "the gates shall not be shut" is generally taken as a reference to the gates of Babylon. The city was taken after Cyrus diverted the course of the River Euphrates, that flowed through the city, which allowed the invaders to enter the city by wading along the bed of the river as its level decreased.
Making "the crooked places straight", mentioned in Isaiah's prophecy about Cyrus, was referred to in the description of the ministry of John the Baptist in Luke 3.
As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Cyrus has an important role in Bible prophecy, as it was his decree given in 538 BC that began the famous prophecy of Daniel's 70 weeks, that foretold the coming of the Messiah (Daniel 9:22-27). This fact is clearly part of the "treasures of darkness" and "hidden riches" that were assigned to Cyrus. Isaiah also foretold this:
That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
The 70 weeks prophecy consists of three distinct sections. They are three "sevens", and together with the 70 years of Jeremiah (Daniel 9:2), they correspond to the four periods of "7 times" mentioned in the law of Moses, which Daniel refers to (Daniel 9:11).
The decree of Cyrus marks the end of the first of those periods of "7 times", and the start of the final three periods, which are the "7 weeks plus 62 weeks plus 1 week" of the 70 weeks, because a "week" is synonymous with "7 times". These 70 weeks encompass God's plan of salvation for all men. Of course that is the true "riches" that Isaiah refers to. Notice what is accomplished in the 70 weeks:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
All of these have to do with the gospel, and the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, that "in his seed, all the families of the earth will be blessed", which Peter and Paul called the gospel.
Peter said to the Jews:
Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Cyrus is said to have received "hidden riches of secret places" because his decree that ended the exile in Babylon also enlightens believers today, if we use it to begin the 70 weeks, as doing so will unlock several other prophecies. The units in the three sections of the 70 weeks vary! The units for "times" or "weeks" in the three sections need not all be the same, nor do they even need to be interpreted as literal years as some insist. The first 7 weeks are weeks of leap years, years having an extra month. There are 7 leap years in 19 years, so the first section of the prophecy is 7 x 19 = 133 years. The second section of 62 weeks is 7 x 62 = 434 years; 62 years was the age of Cyrus when he took Babylon, if Cyrus and Darius the Mede were the same person as suggested by D.J. Wiseman. (Daniel 5:31). From the decree of Cyrus to the beginning of the ministry of Jesus was 133 + 434 = 567 years, from 538 BC to 28 AD. In 28 AD Jesus began his ministry, which begins the final week, and the last of the four periods of "7 times" in which God is reconciled to Israel (Leviticus 26:28). The final half-week is the "time, times, and a half", obviously a half of "7 times". In John's prophecies in Revelation it is a symbol representing the remaining time during which Christ "confirms the covenant" with those who believe the gospel. The secrets of these Bible prophecies connected with the decree of Cyrus are the "hidden riches of secret places" that Isaiah refers to.
Wiseman D.J. 1965. Some Historical Problems in the Book of Daniel, The Tyndale Press, London. pp. 9-18.
Copyright © 2010 by Douglas E. Cox
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