There are a number of non-Christian and “Christian” Biblical scholars that have serious doubts about whether Isaiah wrote chapters 40-66. There are numerous reasons for this. One is that Isaiah wrote about the future as if it had already happened. The second is that Isaiah’s prophesies are remarkably accurate.
One thing to remember as you read about Babylon and Persia and Israel’s exile in the book of Isaiah is that none of this had happened yet. Babylon was not a world power at this point, and of course, Persia had yet to topple Babylon to take its place. For that matter, while the northern kingdom of Israel was in captivity, Jerusalem still stood.
If there was any major enemy for the Israelites at that time, it wasn’t the Babylonians or the Persians. Rather it was Assyria. In fact, when Manasseh was captured, it was Assyria that took him prisoner, and probably the reason Manasseh was taken to Babylon was that the king of Assyria thought Babylon and Israel were joining together to rebel against him. So he decided to deal with both rulers at the same time.
But anyway, many people look at these prophesies Isaiah made and say, “There is no way that Isaiah could have so accurately predicted these things.” And so they conclude that someone other than Isaiah wrote them, sometime after Cyrus, king of Persia, let the Jews go back to their homeland.
But essentially, that’s a position of unbelief. Ultimately, they’re saying there is no God and no supernatural knowledge or intervention. That’s not a historical position. Rather, it’s a philosophical one.
I’m not going to set out an apologetic for this other than to say that there are other prophesies that are simply impossible to redate, namely the prophesies made concerning Jesus. We know that those prophesies were written before Jesus was born because the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek at the latest by the 1st century B.C. That’s historical fact that no one can dispute. And if these prophesies can tell where Jesus was born, the timing of it, his life, the manner of his death, and his resurrection, then I have no problems believing that Isaiah could make all these prophesies about Babylon and Persia before they happened.
The most remarkable thing about this prophesy in Isaiah 44 is that God names the ruler who would allow Jerusalem to be rebuilt. Before Cyrus was even born, God named him and talked about all that he would do. I believe that it was because Cyrus was so impressed when he read these prophesies, that he immediately allowed Judah to go to back to their homeland. (II Chronicles 36:22-23) While Chronicles only mentions the prophesies of Jeremiah, it’s very possible that Cyrus had access to these prophesies of Isaiah as well.
But what Cyrus learned, we can also learn from this passage. Not just that God knows the future. But something far more personal. God, who knew and formed us in the womb (24), loves us and knows our name. He cares for us. And he has a plan for our lives if we’ll only cooperate with him. As Ephesians says,
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Take the time to meditate on Ephesians 1:3-14. As you do, know that God knows not only the future, but your name as well. He loves you. So rest in that knowledge. And rest in that hope.