in the Bible
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Iran In The Bible
Persians in the Bible
A Monarchy is Born
Kingdoms rise and fall, some within our own lifetime! The United States is more than 200 years old and yet, its founding is only recent history compared with that of Iran. Not long ago Iranians met with international leaders in the ancient historical city of Persepolis to celebrate 2500 years of a continuous Iranian monarchy.
The Prophet Isaiah tells us that God established this monarchy (approximately 740 - 680 B.C.). Whether Kingdoms and kings or ordinary people, we know that God works His purposes through His creation (Jeremiah 29:11). God worked through the Kingdom of Iran, known in the Bible as Persia, to emancipate His people from one of the darkest times in their history. Israel was taken captive, first by the Assyrians, then by the Babylonians.
A. ISRAEL TAKEN CAPTIVE
The Assyrians were descendants of Asshur, Shem’s second son and Noah’s grandson (Genesis 10:22). Assyria’s Kingdom was vast and powerful, reaching throughout all of northern Asia.
God’s instrument came to power sometime around 550 B.C.: they called him "Cyrus the Great." Read about him in Isaiah 41:2-3,25; 44:28; 45:13; 46:2,11; 48:14-15.
1. The name, "Cyrus," in the Persian language is Korrush and sounds similar to the original Hebrew in the Old Testament. Hundreds of years after his death, Korrush continues to be remembered in Iran. For years the largest department store was named after him along with many hotels. The two main streets running through the center of Tehran toward the northern mountains were called Korrush-e-kabir, Cyrus the Great. After the overthrow of the shah and the establishment of the Islamic government, many of these names were changed. However, some Iranians still give their boys the name of Korrush.
2. Notice the titles God gave to Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28; 45:1; 41:2
3. These titles are unusual, most often being reserved for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
4. Look at the job description God gave Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28; 45:13; 48:14-15:
5. Why would God use a Gentile king to deliver Israel? Read Isaiah 45: 5-6:
"I am the Lord and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none other."
Again in verses 21 and 22 of that same chapter the Lord declares that He is the only God and refers to himself as righteous and a Savior. Only God can truly save. Yet we see that He uses a foreign king in order to show His sovereignty over all things.
6. What promises did God give to Cyrus? There are many outlined in Isaiah 45:1-3. He would hold Cyrus’ right hand, demonstrating His bestowal of power. He would subdue nations before opened gates, make crooked places straight, and break gates of bronze and iron. Cyrus overtook three of the four great empires of the world in his day. One of them was Media–which was absorbed into Persia and became Medo-Persia. God gave Cyrus the "treasures of darkness," probably referring to the riches of the Kingdom of Lydia, which Cyrus conquered prior to invading Babylon. The fables about King Midas may be rooted in the land of Lydia and her historical King Croesus.
C. CYRUS COMPLETES HIS JOB DESCRIPTION
A person who has a job usually has a job description so he knows what his responsibilities are. Cyrus’ job description was fourfold:
1. Biblical perspective helps us appreciate Iran as a nation better. Unlike other empires which God raised up in order to punish Israel, such as Assyria and Babylon, Iran was used to deliver God’s people. While many other nations were destroyed after their interactions with Israel, Iran has remained for over 2,500 years.
2. The history of Iran shows us that what God has promised, He is able to accomplish. If God has promised you eternal life because you’ve trusted alone in Jesus Christ and His shed blood for your salvation, who are you to doubt this truth later. God’s promises are final!DIG DEEPER
1. Study Isaiah 40-48 and describe how God punished Israel for its sin and then raised up a deliverer or savior in Cyrus (41:2, 25; 44:28; 45:1-13; 46:11, and 48:14-15). Can you find parallels and references in these passages to a coming Savior from sin, the Messiah, Jesus Christ?
2.We use the word "type" to refer to a model or pattern, typically between something in the present and something in the future. Keeping that definition in mind, how is Cyrus a type of the Lord Jesus Christ?
3. Someone once said that history is "His story." Relate this perspective to Iran’s early history with the Jews.
4. Some critics of the Bible deny the supernatural accounts of Scripture. They deny that prophets could predict the future accurately. Why do you think they would claim that more than one person named Isaiah wrote the Book of Isaiah?5. As a believer in Jesus Christ what job description has God given you? How well are you accomplishing it?
This picture from a 1977 5th grade History book in Iran tell "By the order of Cyrus, the Jewish people are freed and returned to their holy city of Jerusalem
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