Saturday, September 5, 2015

A GREAT MAN OF (NO) FAITH - CYRUS THE GREAT

Archeaology proves the Bible again
It is amazing how, when, why and for what God uses a man (or woman).  Do you know what is even more incredible? God, in His infinite, grace, mercy and long-suffering, does so even when He knows this person will reject Him! But such is the case with the Great Amazing God of the Universe. 

One such person is Cyrus, the great Persian King,
King Cyrus the Great
who overran Babylon a generation after Nebuchadnezzar was saved and went on to be with the Lord. His grandson Belshazzar had just ignored the prophet Daniel’s interpretation of the famous “handwriting on the wall” which had told the corrupt final king of Babylon that God had weighed him in the scales and found him wanting. Less than 24 hours later, Cyrus’ men ingeniously pierced the fortress that was the city walls by diverting the river and coming in under the gates, eradicated Belshazzar and assumed control of Babylon.

The Cyrus Cylinder with
Rich  history written on it

In effect, Cyrus had accomplished the work of God in one  fell swoop to end the pre-ordained 70 year old Babylonian captivity of the Jews, for the latter’s disobedience to the laws of the Holy One of Israel. Over 150 years before this, the Prophet Isaiah predicted this event and even named the person who would thus emerge!  In Chapter 45, Isaiah wrote in verses 1-3: "This says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whom I have seized by the right, to subdue nations before him. Yes, I will open the loins of kings, to open the two-leaved doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before you and make hills level; I will tear apart the bronze doors and cut the iron bars in two. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, even treasures in secret places, that you may know that I am the Lord who calls you by your name, I the God of Israel.” 

The great God of heaven called Cyrus by his name and even called him “His anointed”! Yet, God Himself says of Cyrus (and TO Cyrus) 150 years before in the next four verses (4-7): "For Jacob my servant's sake, and for Israel my elect, I have called you by your name. I named you but you do not know me. I am God, and there is no other, there is no God except me, I will clothe you, even though you do not know me, that they may know from sunrise to sunset that there is none except me; I am God and there is no other who creates light and forms darkness; makes peace and creates evil. I God do all these things"

Cyrus did NOT “know” the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel because He was a like a lot of Persians of the day and believed in many gods. Even when he was
Excellent book about
God's Hand in Persia
told that the God of the captive Jews had prophesied him by name 150 years before the event, Cyrus in his pride, attributed his success as a might

y warrior and king to his “great military prowess”, and even wrote about himself in the third person. These can be found in the writings of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus and in Cyrus’ Cylinder, which archaeologists discovered years ago. A book which I have read and which details all of this and the special relationship Persia had with the one True God is the book “PERSIA AND THE BIBLE”  There are photographs of Cyrus’ Cylinder (seen here), his tomb and some of the pagan temples he set up there

So we know how great this king was. In fact he is known as Cyrus the Great and his Declaration of Human Rights predates the Magna Carta by 1700 years. It was so great a document, that the UN had it translated in 1971 into modern English. With all the great things he did- from his military conquests to his tolerance and all, Cyrus never acknowledged the God Who prophesied him by name, spared his life as a child and was the one who gave him all the power, wealth and honor he received. Even when told about the Prophesy of Isaiah, he never changed his view of God and prefered the unknown gods of the Persians. Marduk and Nebo were his favorite pagan idols. He set up temples to gods and sought prayers and worshipped everything except Yahweh, the One True God of Heaven. Cyrus was the fore-runner of the Bahai Faith.

Are there lessons for us today in the account of this amazing man who freed the Jews from 70 years of Captivity in Babylon? You bet there are:
1. The Bible is true and God knew us before we were born as He told Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5. He knows our names and how we will turn out. He knows those who will believe and trust in Him and those who will never bow the knee.

2. Just because a person is ordained for worldly greatness by God, does not mean that said person will actually believe and love the Lord with all heart, mind, body and soul. America and the west are full of people calling themselves "Christians" who know there is a God, know there was a man named Jesus Who lived and preached and was nailed to a Cross. They believe He may have risen from the dead on Resurrection Morning. They even tell folks "you are in our thoughts and prayers" when something goes wrong, yet never pray or even know how to. Our western churches are packed with these cultural Christians, in name only. The proof is in their lack of a testimony of their conversion, from a child of wrath to a child of the King.

3. The wealthier or the higher position in this life that a person occupies, the more difficult it is for him (or her) to give all the credit and glory to God. We see it in self-made millionaires, celebrities, politicians, most athletes and especially Kings and Queens. The common denominator is both pride and self-reliance. Sure, they worked hard and earned that fortune, or in some cases, inherited it, but the life and breath and good health to become successful - you guess it - came from God! Both the uber-rich, and everybody else, are just one breath away from eternity, yet very few really recognize that and live accordingly.

Cyrus is really an intriguing personality and it is sad to read about his fishing around for some non-existent God to "worship". But what a great King Cyrus the Great was! He not only freed the Jews from Babylon as he was prophesied about 150 years before, but he ruled such a huge part of the known world around his time, that Alexander the Great made a pilgrimage to his tomb, when the latter rampaged through the Middle East less than 300 years after Cyrus. The main takeaway from this - our God, Yahweh, is Sovereign and His Word (the Bible) is always TRUE!!

Credits:
Slideshare.net (Clay brick photo above)
Ancient Origins (Cyrus Cylinder)
Amazon.com (Persia and the Bible) 
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