It is interesting that Iran (ancient Persia) released the hostages on April 4 because that day was the biblical feast of Firstfruits and Christ arose on Firstfruits (Nisan/Abiv 16). Now it happens that scholars are divided as to when Christ arose because the Gospel of John implies that the day of His resurrection was on the day of Firstfruits (Nisan 16), but the other Gospels imply that it was the next day, that is, Nisan 17. (Nisan 17 is the anniversary of when Noah's ark rested on Mount Arafat.)
But nonetheless, the hostages arrived back in their home the next day, on Nisan 17. Either way, the date is correct!
But what is more interesting is that the Iranian leader himself said that they were being released as an "Easter gift". This is interesting because Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ (although Easter day itself in purely pagan in origin). The Iranian leader unwittingly released them on the exact day that so-called Easter should fall upon if it was kept after the biblical order. (And no, I am not saying that we are bound to keep any holy days any longer under the New Covenant we have in Christ).
And what is more is that Daniel predicted (Daniel 9) that 490 years from the decree to release the Jews to go home and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that the Messiah would come. There are four possible dates for this, but the favorite one among scholars is the decree by the Persian king (modern Iran) in 444 BC to Nehemiah. Well, 490 x 5 years later (that is, 5 cycles of the number given in Daniel 9, or 50 x 49 --- that is, 50 jubilees, so to speak), is Passover week of 2007 which includes, you guessed it, Nisan 16 and 17th when our modern Persian king again released the prisoners. (The jubilee is associated with the release of prisoners in the bible, Isaiah 42:6-7.)
Perhaps all this is coincidence, but I think not
---What is God saying?---
At the very least, God is reminding us that He rules over the heathen. But more than that... perhaps God is telling us that the day is coming when God will wrap up the ages and raise His people from the dead --- up out of the captivity of this world, of which Persia is a type. (Persia ruled the world at the time of the decrees of the prophecy of Daniel 9, therefore, Persia is a type of world dominion. To be released from Persia is to be released --- raised up --- from this world, just as Christ was raised up from the dead.)
Isa 42:6-7 "I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."
What is interesting about this passage in Isaiah about the release of prisoners (as in a jubilee) is that, although this is a prophecy about Christ, yet later in Isaiah God uses the pagan Persian (now called Iran) leader "Cyrus" as a type and symbol of this release.
Isa 44:28 "That saith of Cyrus, [He is] my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid."
So then, why is it so hard to believe that God would again reveal Himself in this pagan modern leader of Iran just as He did 50 jubilees ago when another Persian king --- that is, king Artaxeres, (and before him, Cyrus) likewise released his prisoners as per the prophecy of the "490-years" of Daniel?
(When I speak of "jubilee" here, I mean it in the loose sense of any 49-year period with the 50th being the jubilee year, not the official one that began when Israel entered the Promised land in 1406 BC.)
The following is quoted of Christ in Luke 4:18. I believe the Lord would have us reminded of this precious prophecy in light of these events in Iran...
Isa 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to [them that are] bound;
Isa 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
Isa 61:4 And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.
Isa 61:5 And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien [shall be] your plowmen and your vinedressers.
Isa 61:6 But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: [men] shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
Isa 61:7 For your shame [ye shall have] double; and [for] confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them."
Dean Coombs specializes in bible prophecy, codes that form images, and bible numbers. His popular websites include www.bible-codes.org and www.1260-1290-days-bible-prophecy.org.