Part 1: “God’s Anointed Shepherd”
A fascinating and often over-looked sub-plot in the “Grand Story” of the Bible involves a figure called “God’s anointed shepherd.” People would be quick to name Moses, whom God called while tending sheep on the backside of the desert, to lead Israel to the Promised Land. David, the great warrior-king, who learned his skills while tending sheep. Then there is God Himself, of whom David said, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Finally, Jesus Christ, that “good” (John 10:11) and “great” (Heb. 13:20) shepherd who gave his life for his sheep.
But in a remarkable prophecy 150 years before the emergence of the Persian (modern-day Iran) empire, Isaiah predicted that God would say of Cyrus, a pagan ruler and unlikely choice: “He is my shepherd, and will accomplish all that I please” (Isa. 44:28). “Cyrus the Great,” as he came to be called, would play a pivotal role in biblical history.
Greek historians picked up the story of Cyrus when Persia succumbed to Greek rule. He was a brilliant military strategist who conquered the dreaded Babylonians without firing a shot (or in his case, a bow). He reigned over the largest of ancient empires and was a respected statesman. Cyrus built bridges to other cultures and was a human rights advocate. His name appears ten times in four different books of the Old Testament.
Read more about this unique biblical figure in Part 2: “May the Lord their God be with them!”