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Is Donald Trump God's King Cyrus?

Is Donald Trump God's King Cyrus?

By Guy Saffold, Ed.D.
March 19, 2019

There is a claim, some even call it "a prophecy," that Donald Trump is the leader appointed by God to rescue America. The assertion that God can use an unbelieving and even ungodly ruler to carry out his purposes is undeniably true and is amply demonstrated by biblical accounts. Isaiah, Daniel and Ezra also mention Darius and Artaxerxes in similar roles. The Scriptures say that the Pharaoh at the time of the Hebrews' exodus from Egypt was "raised up" by God to fulfill his purposes.

"For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden" (Romans 9:17-18)

To whom shall we compare President Trump? To the successful Cyrus or to the ruler of ancient Egypt whose narcissistic stubbornness accomplished God's purpose of bringing judgment upon the nation?

In Isaiah Cyrus is summoned "by name" to fulfill the Lord's purposes in a specific situation. It is a basic principle of biblical interpretation that what is said there cannot be applied directly to the President of the United States in 2019, and there is, in any case, no similarity "by name" to "Trump."

Much is sometimes made of the fact that Trump is the 45th President, and Cyrus is mentioned in Isaiah 45. Amazing! Not really. The original text of the Old Testament was not divided into chapters. The Dead Sea Scrolls copy of Isaiah on display in Jerusalem shows no chapter divisions. Only in 1448, about 2,000 years later, was Isaiah was divided into chapters by the Jewish Rabbi Nathan. Besides, the prophecy about Cyrus begins in Isaiah 44. If the notion that the chapter divisions had significance for the occupant of the White House were accepted, the Cyrus prophecy should apply also to President Obama.

The prophecy itself is very specific in its application to the historical King Cyrus who it is said will rebuild Jerusalem and lay the foundations of the temple. That was God's purpose at the time. Today, Jerusalem has long since been rebuilt and the foundations of a modern-day temple have not been laid nor are they likely to be during President Trump's tenure--if ever. Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem hardly compares. Cyrus is said to be one who will "subdue nations" and "strip kings of their armor." No nations have yet been subdued by President Trump, although he has been publicly portrayed stripped of his suit. But let's go the main problem.

At the heart of the Cyrus-Trump mythology is the belief that God wants to strengthen America and has raised up Trump to do it. Regardless of one's view of America's place in the world and the importance of President Trump, it hardly needs to be said that there is nothing in the Bible to support this belief. It is a claim fabricated out of nothing. It is at least as possible that God may have raised up President Trump as part of bringing judgment on America--a view perhaps more compatible with the opinions of a majority of Americans.

This is not a judgment on whom one voted for. It is reasonable to believe that he was a better choice than the other candidate. We don't often get to choose between ideal candidates or even ones that we like. In such circumstances it's necessary to choose and to do so with whatever wisdom one can find. However, to rationalize this prudential choice with confident assurance that President Trump possesses "the Cyrus anointing" is ridiculous and embarrassing to the faith.

Cyrus, by all accounts, was an administrative genius who developed systems that sustained an empire that endured for centuries. President Trump seems to be wreaking havoc across the entire American scene: massive expansion in debt, deliberate erosion of civil standards and agencies, scandals multiplying faster than white rabbits, and growing disrespect for his leadership among a large percentage of the population. Linking his presidency to God's supposed purpose to strengthen the American "kingdom" betrays a moral blindness that is astonishing for people who claim to follow the Lord.

Cyrus was called "the Great" for good reason. He has been remembered and studied for 2,500 years. It is hard to imagine anyone studying Trump as an example of world class leadership even today much less 50 to 100 years from today when he will be either a footnote in American history or a case study in how not to lead a nation. He is hardly an example of any theory of great leadership. The verdict on his incompetence and corruption is already well-established, and there are no signs -- none at all -- that he has produced any strengthening of America that suggests the future will be better, much less studied as an example of statesmanship 2,500 years in the future.

Of course, if the Cyrus parallel plays out it may be that this President has problems ahead. The historical Cyrus was killed in fierce battle with a tribe of Uzbeks after provoking a battle with them. It is said by Herodotus that the female Uzbek leader took his body, cut off the head, and immersed it in a tub of his blood as revenge for Cyrus killing her son by deceptive means. It was, Herodotus says, a massive defeat for the forces of Cyrus and the largest and most brutal battle of his career,

One could go on at length, but it is entirely clear that the myth of a connection between President Trump and the biblical King Cyrus represents the worst of evangelical ignorance about history and the Bible, its interpretation and application. It dishonors God and His Word. Promotion of this ludicrous theory is more akin to what one hears from adherents of a twisted cult.

Any idea of President Trump decapitated with his head dipped in a vat of his own blood is gruesome and irresponsibly extreme--although who can doubt that there would be enough juice to fill the vat? There does seem to be a serious possibility that President Trump will be defeated at the ballot box in the next election by a woman. If so, there might be something to the comparison with Cyrus after all.

Guy S. Saffold, Ed.D. is Executive Director of ACTS Seminaries of Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada. He has 45 years of experience as a pastor, university administrator, and missions leader. He holds a doctorate from Seattle University and an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Born in New York City, Saffold currently resides in Langley, British Columbia.

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