Today in the southern Fars province of modern Iran, an extraordinary stone mausoleum rises above the plains surrounding the ruins of the ancient royal Persian city of Pasargadae. Here lies a monument, preserved for over 2500 years, to testify to the life of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great, separated by the hand of God to accomplish a very special role in His purpose.

It was at this very place in 555 BC that King Cyrus defeated the Median forces in a decisive battle and set up his capital, laying the foundations of the Achaemenid Empire. Here at Pasargadae, you can still see the evidence of this empire with the remains of an audience hall, a residential palace (which originally had pavilions, gardens and a water canal), a stone tower and a stronghold.

Pasargadae is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Cyrus’tomb itself is the oldest known ‘base isolated’ structure in the world, meaning that its foundation has been decoupled from the main structure to make it resilient to earthquakes. Unlike the tombs of later Achaemenid kings that were hewn into the cliffs surrounding Persepolis, the tomb of Cyrus is of a rather unique construction.

The tomb is over 11m high, built with massive blocks of stone some 7m long and consists of two distinct parts: a solid platform made up of six re­ceding tiers and measuring 164m2 at the base and a small gabled chamber with walls 1.5m thick and a 2.11m high ceiling. A single entrance in the north­western front leads into the chamber (the original stone door has long vanished) where the embalmed body of Cyrus was placed inside a golden coffin on a lavish golden throne with his weapon and valu­ables, which were unfortunately pillaged during the chaos of Alexander the Great’s invasion of Persia.

Alexander the Great considered himself to be Cyrus’ heir and on his return from India in 324 BC he stopped here to pay his respects to the man he had admired from a young age. Stepping inside the small chamber of Cyrus’tomb, Alexander found the remains of Cyrus scattered across the floor, the lid of the sarcophagus broken and the treasures looted. In his anger he tortured the Magi who were supposed to be guarding and maintaining the tomb and commanded his architect, Aristobulus, to repair and re-decorate it.

God has allowed this tomb to stand, isolated and intact, for thousands of years as a testament to the work of His servant, Cyrus. It stands as a witness that God predicted Cyrus’ rise to power and used him to bring His exiled people home to commence the rebuilding of His house (Isa 45:1; 2 Chron 36:23; Ezra 1:2-3). Our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest Cyrus, will complete this work and then all will know that Yahweh is God of Israel (Isa 45:3).