Tag Archives: cyrus the great

Cyrus, King of Persia: the Lord’s Anointed

The tomb of Cyrus the Great, King of Persia

Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates… For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou has not known me…  Isaiah 45:1,4

God spoke of Cyrus through the prophet Isaiah, a hundred years or so before Cyrus was born. He was born a subject of the empire of the Medes. There was no Persian Empire, yet. It remained for Cyrus to found it–with God’s help.

It was Cyrus who released the Jews from captivity in Babylon, and ordered God’s Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt (2 Chronicles 36:22-23). His successors, kings of Persia, saw to it that the project was completed, as we know from Nehemiah.

Cyrus was not a Jew, not a believer, and yet God chose him as his servant. The Persian Empire that he founded was one of the great achievements of the human race, although it was finally destroyed by Alexander the Great. And Cyrus himself, after fulfilling the mission assigned to him by God, fell victim to a lust for power and glory, and met his death far from home, trying to conquer the nomads of the steppes. Like so many great men, he eventually brought about his own fall. Put not your trust in princes.

His career reminds us that God is able and willing to use anyone, even non-Jews, or non-Christians, to carry out His purposes in history. We note that of all the foreign potentates who ruled over the Jews, it was only the Persians–not the Romans, not the Greeks–who treated them justly and were rewarded by their loyalty.

God intervenes in history. It belongs to Him.

I pray He will intervene in our country’s history, to bring us back to our senses and to save us.

And we may be surprised by whom He chooses to do it.


The Father of Tall Tales

I have been reading Herodotus–called by Cicero “the Father of History,” and by other ancient commentators “the Father of Lies.” I don’t know which side to come down on, but one thing’s for sure: Herodotus was definitely the Father of Tall Tales. Davy Crockett was a mere exaggerator, compared to him.

Herodotus’ Histories, written sometime around 450 B.C., is one of the most entertaining books in the world. Boy, could that old man spin yarns! The book is supposed to be about the wars between the Greeks and the Persians, but Herodotus crams it full of stories about anything and everything you could imagine.

Here we find the giant ants of India, as big as foxes, and the flying serpents of Arabia, not to mention griffins that guard huge stores of gold, the first circumnavigation of Africa by a Phoenician sailor–a story which Herodotus himself was unable to believe because it only makes sense if you consider the world to be a globe with an Equator–and a treasury of historical curiosities, from the character and riches of Croesus to the homicidal madness of Cambyses, son of Cyrus the Great. Open the book at random, and on any page you’ll find either an eye-popping marvel or a desperate adventure.

Warning: once you start reading Herodotus, you’ll find it very hard to stop. And I defy you to read it only once. I come back to it again and again, every few years.

If we had a cottage by the bay, and a stretch of rainy winter nights too cold for fishing, my wife and I agree that nothing would suit us better than to have old Herodotus visit for a time and treat us to several dozen hours of his tales.

No fantasy writer who ever lived was able to top Herodotus for flights of the imagination.


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