This blog is the third in a series about the bible and how the bible proves that God exists. Prophecy in the Christian scriptures provides valid evidence.
There is a prophecy in the scriptures about a Persian king, Cyrus the Great. Before Cyrus is considered, some historical facts are needed to provide background information.
The Jewish people in Judah and Jerusalem had frequently been warned by God, through his prophets, that they should be careful not to rebel against him. Certainly one of the big issues with God was that the Jews frequently got caught up worshipping the gods of neighboring nations. He repeatedly warned them, through his prophets, that doing so would have serious consequences which, of course, always happened.
In this particular case, of Judah and Jerusalem, another of God’s warning was ignored so he spoke through the prophet Jeremiah . He said in part, as recorded in the scriptures, “And this whole country shall become a desolate wasteland and will …. serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (Jeremiah 25:11). This is generally refered to as the Babylonian Captivity. But God also said through his prophet, he would watch over them and bring them back to their land after 70 years. (Jeremiah 24:6). This would be made possible by the Persian ruler, Cyrus the Great. (The Babylonian Captivity is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Daniel 9:2 and Ezra 1:1.)
At this point Cyrus the Great becomes important. He was the ruler of the Persian Empire from 559 BC to 530 BC. He conquered many countries, but most important, for this study, he conquered the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar under who’s rule the Jewish people served 70 years.
Very important, another prophet, Isaiah, also prophesied that the people from Jerusalem and Judah would return to their land.
God through Isaiah made certain observations about Cyrus who had not yet been born. These observations are recorded in the bible in Isaiah, chapter 45, parts of which are quoted below.
“This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him …. I will go before you and level the mountains …. I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name …. 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 …. I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness …. He will rebuild my City and set my exiles free …. Surely God is with you and there is no other; there is no other God.” Isaiah 45: 1-6). NIV.
Both Jeremiah’s and Isaiah’s prophecies were about the exiles in Babylon. But there was a significant time difference between the two prophets. Jeremiah was a contemporary of the exile. He saw the destruction of the Judah and Jerusalem in 586 BC when the Captivity began. Isaiah lived from about 740 to 689 BC. Cyrus came to the Persian throne in 559 BC. This means Isaiah prophesied the above quoted prophesy before the Captivity and before Cyrus was born, by about 150 years. This may raise some difficult questions for some readers. How could Isaiah have prophesied about the Captivity? How would he have known about Cyrus and the role he would play in freeing the exiles? How would he have known his name?
If you do not believe there is a God then you have no acceptable answer to the above question! There is no secular means available to derive information 150 years into the future. The answer to these and other questions must be that there exists a God, an omniscient God, who inspired some individuals, namely prophets, to record information for the benefit of the people he chose, the Jews, as his own, and for all who would become believers and worshippers in the future, from all over the world.
Where can one learn about our omniscient God? The answer is in the study of the Christian scriptures. There are no other religious scriptures, anywhere in the world, that have so many and accurate prophecies that teach about God. That is because God is the author from which they came.
The bible is not the only source of information about Cyrus. An archeological find called the, “Cyrus Cylinder” records information about his role in history. If you enter, “Cyrus Cylinder” you can find the information about him. Josephus, the Jewish historian mentions Cyrus in his book, “Antiquities of the Jews”. H. G. Wells in his, ‘Outline of History,’ also writes that Cyrus was instrumental in helping the Jews return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
All the above shows that there is a God involved in human affairs. Also, it is clear that he forgives the errors that humans make.
There is a statement made by God which shows his forgiveness of the Jews’ sins and this forgiveness is also available to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The scripture says, ” Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red as crimson they shall be like wool”. (Isaiah, 1:18). NIV.
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