There is a claim, some even call it “a prophecy,” that Donald Trump is a leader appointed by God to rescue America. He has, it is said, the “Cyrus anointing.” If this were just a case of suggestive comparison, it could perhaps be justified. Unfortunately and too often it is used as the basis for claiming divine blessing on the Trump presidency.
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 none of what is said there can validly be applied to the President of the United States in 2019, and there is, in any case, no similarity “by name” to “Trump.” But there are other more important biblical reasons for doubting the link between Trump and Cyrus.
God Uses Leaders: Good and Bad
It is undeniable and amply demonstrated by biblical accounts that God uses many leaders to carry out His purposes. Isaiah, Daniel and Ezra also mention Darius and Artaxerxes in similar roles to Cyrus.
That God can use an unbelieving and even ungodly ruler to carry out his purposes is also clear. 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)
This raises the entirely biblical question of 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? Could it be that God has raised up Trump as his agent to accelerate the moral decline of America and its descent into judgment?
Isaiah 45 and the 45th President
Much is sometimes made of the fact that Trump is the 45th President, and Cyrus in 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, almost 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 Old Testament chapter divisions had significance for the occupant of the White House were accepted, the real “Cyrus” would be Barrack 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 nor does it seem likely. 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 at least as possible that God may have raised up President Trump as part of bringing judgment on America. Many evangelicals consider this a more likely possibility. It will take years to evaluate the effects of his presidency.
Cyrus the Great Was Great
Cyrus was called “the Great” for good reason. He has been remembered and studied for 3,000 years. He was, by all accounts, an administrative genius who developed systems that sustained an empire that endured for centuries. His massive expansion of U.S. debt, deliberate erosion of civil standards and agencies, and mixed moral record suggests trouble is ahead. It is hard to imagine anyone studying Trump as an example of world class leadership 3,000 years in the future or even 50 to 100 years from today when he will be either a footnote in American history or perhaps a case study in how not to lead a nation.
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,
An Embarrassment to the Faith
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 is an example of severe misinterpretation of the Bible. Promotion of this phony comparison is more akin to what one hears from adherents of a cult. The idea dishonors God and His Word.
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.
The idea of President Trump decapitated with his head dipped in a vat of his own blood is gruesome and irresponsibly extreme. There does seem to be at least a serious possibility that President Trump will be defeated at the ballot box in the next election by a woman. If so, perhaps there might be something to the comparison with Cyrus after all.