I AM THE LORD AND THERE IS NO OTHER...The words of God Almighty cross the chasm of time to remind us that His choices are perfect. Incredibly, He ordained King Cyrus of Persia, the Father of Iran, to rebuild the Temple and return His exiled people to Jerusalem. This guaranteed the survival of the line of David, and the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Today, the church in Iran is the fastest growing Christian church in the entire world. In these last days, WE are witnessing God drawing to Himself record numbers of the very descendants of HIS ancient chosen servant, King Cyrus of Persia. "More Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries put together since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, there are hundreds of thousands—some say more than 1 million. Whatever the exact number, many Iranians are turning to Jesus as Lord and Savior.” https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/1265659453514241
But all this shouldn’t be news to us Christians. According to Acts 2:9-11,the Persians, known then as Parthians and Medes, along with others, like "the Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs", were “declaring the wonders of God” in one tongue during the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost over 2000 years ago in Jerusalem.
From that time until today, Christianity has been a continuous presence in Iran. In fact, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus is still spoken today by ethnic Assyrian Christians in Iran. It is also believed by many that two of the disciples of Jesus, Jude and Simon the Zealot, ministered in Iran following Pentecost, and were buried there in a church erected by St. Jude himself in 66AD.
It all began around 2600 years ago with the progenitor of Iran, biblical King Cyrus, known in history as Cyrus the Great. He is credited with uniting the two original Iranian Tribes, the Medes and the Persians, out of which came today’s nation of Iran. Calling himself "King of the Four Corners of the World", Cyrus created the largest empire the world had ever seen. Known as the Achaemenid Empire, it stretched over 3,100,000 square miles and spanned 3 continents. At its peak around 480BC, 50 million people lived there. That was 44.48% of the entire population of the world at that time, the largest known percentage for any empire in the recorded history of mankind.
"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’” Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites- everyone whose heart God had moved- prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem." Ezra 1:1-5.
This scripture statement by King Cyrus is phenomenal. A non-Jew is announcing that he will knowingly and willingly fulfill the words of a Hebrew prophet, Jeremiah, who prophesied “For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon, I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10).
King Cyrus was also referencing the prophecy of another Hebrew prophet, Isaiah. 150 years BEFORE he would even reign as King, God inspired Isaiah to prophesy and name King Cyrus as the one who would rebuild Jerusalem and lay the temple foundations! “This is what the Lord says…who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ Isaiah 44:1, 28.
Cyrus' conquest of the city of Babylon, the foundation for the building of his dynasty, was prophesied directly in the next verses of Isaiah 45:1-3. The 300 feet high, 87 feet thick walls of the massive 196 square mile city were no match to the Word of the Almighty. Cyrus lowered the water level of the Euphrates River which meandered through the city, and gained entry by going under the bronze gateways. Once inside, they found the brass and iron internal gates were wide open, just as God had said they would be. "I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron...and open the doors before you so that the gates will not be shut....so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name."
God shares His wisdom for the ages as we read further. "For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me. 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 of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other." Isaiah 45:4-6.
We continue to be humbled and humiliated by these powerful words of the Almighty: "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things. You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the Lord, have created it. Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten? or to a mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’ " Isaiah 45:4-10.
God's eternal punchline will reverberate in the universe forever: “This is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will rebuild my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the Lord Almighty.” Isaiah 45:11-13.
Yes, it sounds as though this heathen, Middle Eastern man, that we Christians wouldn't have invested a plug nickel in, was God's perfect choice to further His kingdom on this earth. And King Cyrus further puts us all to shame by honoring the Lord and His request, never once questioning Him or asking God to bless his own country in return.
It took 21 years from the time the foundation was begun under King Cyrus until its completion during the reign of a succeeding king. When adversaries rose again, it was revealed that a previous decree from King Cyrus had already set aside funds for the Temple’s completion, along with building instructions. Even the gold and silver articles taken from the Jerusalem Temple were "...to be returned to their places in the temple in Jerusalem; they are to be deposited in the house of God." Ezra 6:5.
We witness the continuing movement of God Almighty in the heart of the succeeding king who finished the Temple, Darius the Great, when he spoke these words: "Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with great diligence for the temple of the God of heaven." Ezra 7:23.
“The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar…” Ezra 6:14. The very next month on the 14th day, the returned Babylonian exiles celebrated the sacrifice of Passover, which would later be fulfilled by Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb of God!
The deliverance of God's chosen people in the manner He chooses, continues to leave us mesmerized and dumbfounded. His plan not only includes overcoming obstacles among those claiming to align themselves with His own heart, but also reaching out and moving in the hearts of hardened pagan nations and leaders, if He so desires.
It’s impossible not to see that happening today, right before our very eyes, as the sovereign will of God Almighty continues to move in the hearts of humanity! The third day of Adar, March 10 on our 2019 Gregorian calendar is the biblically documented completion date of the restored Holy Temple of Jerusalem, made possible through the one known today as the Father of Iran.
Indeed, much more hinged on Cyrus actions than he could ever have imagined. Many theologians believe by returning God's chosen people to Jerusalem, King Cyrus fulfilled the timing for the beginning of The Almighty's seventy-week prophecy that fixed not only the year for the Death and Resurrection of Messiah, but also the timing of His Second Coming. (Daniel 9:25-27)
Surely, no Christian on the face of the Earth can miss the great irony of today's lesson. An infidel Middle Eastern ruler, identified as the Father of Iran, not only delivered the nation that would one day bring forth our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, he most likely triggered the countdown to the 2nd coming of the Son of God!
We can sit around and play politics forever, but it doesn't change the fact that God Almighty has set His plan in motion, which includes salvation of the people of Iran, the descendants of an ancient King who simply followed His Word in faith. King Cyrus championed and defended a nation of people totally foreign to him, simply because the King of the Universe asked him to do so.
We Christians would be wise to follow his example.
“I AM THE LORD AND THERE IS NO OTHER.”