What comes to mind when you think of the nation of Iran? A fundamentalist Islamic regime? Anti-Americanism? The movie “Argo”? Most people hear the name “Iran” and picture what they see on the news and in the movies.
There is much more to Iran than what the media portrays. Iran has a rich cultural heritage and religious history that predates Islam. One ancient influence on the current Persian culture is Zoroastrianism.
Let’s briefly look into this history so that we can better understand the Iranian worldview and the spiritual strongholds that bind these people. It is our hope that this increased understanding will not only help us understand the Azad family’s perspective, but will also guide our prayers and give us more clarity as we intercede for Iran.
Last week on the blog, we learned about Zoroastrianism. As Zoroastrianism caught hold in Iran, its influence continued to extend through the great King Cyrus.
Maybe you recognize that name from the Bible. Cyrus was known for his reluctance to force his culture on others. In fact, he allowed and encouraged great diversity throughout his kingdom. Yes, this is the same king who ended the Israelites’ exile (Isaiah 45) and sent the Jews home to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple of God (Ezra 1).
Under King Cyrus, the Persian empire was at its peak. His regional influence and popularity caused Zoroastrianism to spread widely.
Today, many Iranians connect this part of their history with newer forms of Zoroastrianism and even Western ideals of tolerance and pluralism. They are proud of their ancient Persian culture. Even when their government makes them feel hopeless, Iranians find some hope by remembering a better time.
Pray for those who are under the spiritual stronghold of trying to always appear more open minded.
Putting their hope in tolerance and an ancient culture will ultimately fail, as tolerance is not love, nor can the past save them from their present circumstances.
Please pray with us that these Iranians would discover God’s love and the true hope it brings.