Isaiah is an amazing book. The prophet served the Lord, preached and wrote, to the people of Judah in the 8th century B.C. But what he wrote must have been a bit criptic for the people of His own day. Some of it they would have understood. But as time went on, more and more of it would be understood because the people would see it unfolding in their lives.
In Isaiah 41, the Lord points to the Babylonians who come “from the east” and terrify all in their path. They are the Lord’s servants (but not His people) and those in their path cru out to their idols for deliverance – but it doesn’t come because idols cannot help. God, however, will help His people. He will bring a deliver from the north – a leader known as Cyrus (mentioned specifically in chapter 45). The first readers would not have known Cyrus, but they would learn to expect him. And when he finally arrived on the scene about 539 B.C., God’s people could say: “The Lord knew this all along. No one else but God could have been so precise.” That truth was designed to lead God’s people away from the idols they had embraced – false gods whose images are little more than wind and confusion.