who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose'; saying of Jerusalem, 'She shall be built,' and of the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid.'" -- Isaiah 44: 28 (ESV)
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: - Isaiah 45: 1 (ESV)
There are political forces in this country on both sides who desire only one thing. Power. They will stop at nothing and stoop to everything in order to win. They will both promise the world and in all likelihood deliver very little of it. In order to win however they need to convince people to vote for their candidate. They target demographic groups to make sure the right messaging is heard. Things that appeal to blue collar factory workers are different than college educated soccer moms. So when the candidate is in Pittsburgh you are bound to hear speeches about trade and outsourcing but in the suburbs you might hear more about security and Isis. One of the most sought after constituencies is the evangelical vote. For decades now the evangelical community has been played for suckers and every election they fall for the same empty promises. It seems God has been trying to get our attention. In 2008 He saw that after railing about character for decades we were willing to compromise in voting for an adulterer. In 2012 the ante was raised and God watched as his church rallied around behind a member of a satanic cult. Now this is where things often get muddied because this is not to suggest that the other option was anymore of a "God choice." The problem is the rabid defense of the lesser evil. The problem is with the church pretending that Mormonism is somehow not a cult of false teaching that will lead millions of people to hell. The problem is in one of the things Jesus always spoke against -- hypocrisy.
This year is no different as we see the stakes raised yet again in the least Christian candidate possibly in all of history in Donald Trump. I am not even going to get into the details because at this point if you think there is a shred of Christian values in this man then there is nothing I can say that will change your mind. The point however is how the political forces are again trying to co-opt the Christian vote. How these forces, which do not care about the Gospel are convincing Christians to compromise it. One of the more popular tactics is to find a Bible story to rally around and pretend that it has something to do with the Trump candidacy. The most popular this year appears to be that of King Cyrus from the Old Testament. I recently had an email from someone suggesting I "do some research" on King Cyrus before speaking against Trump as not being a Christian candidate. So I have.
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: "Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, 'The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.'" -- 2Chronicles 36: 22-23 (ESV)
The story of King Cyrus is a glorious story of the providential provision of God for His people. How He never abandons them. How He delivers them. It also has wonderful ancillary points about the sovereignty of God and how God can use anyone to accomplish His mighty plans. It also brilliantly displays powerful prophecy. We see here in these verses written by Ezra in 2Chronicles that the Prophet Jeremiah had previously prophesied the Babylonian captivity and the eventual deliverance from it. That God would use such an ungodly nation to exact judgment upon His people so that they may return to Him and be His people once more. If that is not impressive enough, the key verses are from the Prophet Isaiah and were written nearly 200 years prior to the reign of King Cyrus. Yet Isaiah names Cyrus, yet to be born, by name. Think about that the next time you hear some false prophet offering up prophe-lies without any specific detail beloved. God is not confused. God declares through Isaiah some facts about the yet to be born Cyrus including the following:
1) He will be used as a shepherd by God. How so? Because it will be King Cyrus (after he conquered Babylon) that decrees that captives can return to Jerusalem. He provides them with the materials they would need and restores the wealth taken from them by Babylon during the fall of Jerusalem. He guides them back home, as a shepherd guides the flock.
2) He shall fulfill all my purposes. Specifically what? That Jerusalem will be built and the new temple will have its foundation laid. This is another stark example of the specificity of prophecy. The captivity would not occur for a hundred years after Isaiah died yet here he is speaking about rebuilding that which has not yet fallen and laying a foundation for a temple that is already standing.
3) God has anointed Cyrus. He has literally grasped his right hand to subdue other nations. We know from history that Cyrus the Great was one of the most successful kings in all history. He conquered the Medians, the Babylonians, and Lydia.
This is all 200 years before Cyrus was even born. Fast forward to the days of the captivity and we see the scribe Ezra giving us the historical narrative that fulfills this prophecy. What can we learn from these set of verses about King Cyrus?
1) It is the Lord that stirred up the spirit of Cyrus. This is not a work of man. Cyrus did not decide on his own to be kind towards the Jewish exiles. Granted he could have ignored God but we see throughout Scripture that those who do not believe but see God work and move, generally do not try and cross Him. So the Lord was behind the proclamation that freed the exile Jewish people.
2) The proclamation reveals that Cyrus knows full well that the success he has had as ruler of Persia is entirely the doing of the Lord. It is the Lord that has given the kingdoms into his hands.
3) The proclamation reveals that Cyrus based his decision to release the captives upon the fact that God charged him to do so. God used the ungodly king, to achieve His godly plans.
So we see the story of the exiled Jewish people returning home after 70 years in captivity. We see it prophesied 200 years in advance by Isaiah. The entire scope prophesied by Jeremiah. Ezra provides us with the historical narrative fulfilling these prophecies as the exiles return home. Given this backdrop and these six facts we can glean from the various texts, let us reason together if this has anything to do with the election this year and the candidacy of Donald Trump. There have been an outpouring of false prophets and teachers claiming everything from a "Cyrus anointing", which is an absurdly ridiculous term, to flat out declaring Trump is a modern day Cyrus. To get there however, one must leave the rational exposition of Scripture, as we will see.
Let's take another look at the three lessons from the Isaiah prophecy. When we read about King Cyrus we see a man who is humble about the fact that God has chosen him. He is called a shepherd by God. He is called anointed by God. He will fulfill all of the purposes God has for His people. Perhaps the victories provided to Cyrus early in his reign were designed by God so he would not question this God he did not believe in nor worship. We saw in the story of Potiphar and Joseph, the unbelieving Potiphar could see how God was on Joseph's side. Even when confronted with the accusations of rape from his own wife, Potiphar dared not to order Joseph killed, which he most certainly had the earthly power to do. That is just someone who saw God move in someone else! Cyrus had direct revelation from the Lord Himself! Do we see any of this in Donald Trump? Do we see someone concerned with shepherding the church out of some form of captivity? When we see Trump objectify women, mock the disabled, curse, and ridicule his opponents is the word anointed what comes to mind? The only seeming comparison between Cyrus and Trump is that they are both unbelievers. That is where the similarities end. Cyrus goes on to be very mindful of the role God has played in the successes in his life whereas Trump has gone on record saying he does not even think he needs to ask God for forgiveness.
What about the lessons from the narrative in 2Chronicles? King Cyrus knew that the success he had enjoyed was due to the God he did not even serve. So instead of thinking it was all about him, he gave credit to this God and this God alone. His proclamation starts by admitting that God had given him all of the nations of the earth. Do we get the sense that Donald Trump thinks anyone deserves any credit for his success except for himself? Has anyone once heard him even vaguely suggest that God is the reason for his great wealth and success? The answer beloved is no. If anything it is always the opposite. It is always all about himself and his work.
So what can we conclude beloved? The story of King Cyrus is a fantastic tale within the Word of God. It displays the Lord's kindness, His deliverance, and His sovereignty. Those who are trying to sucker Christians yet again for their vote however have abused this story beyond the clear implications of the Scriptures surrounding Cyrus. The central connection they are trying to make is this. God used a worldly king in Cyrus for His overall plan so therefore He could also use a worldly Donald Trump for His purposes as well. To that I say of course He can! It has nothing to do with Cyrus though! God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Everything is within His sovereignty. He has stopped the sun. He has told the sea how far it can go. He has spoken into existence the entire universe with a single sentence. I think he could use Donald Trump if He wanted to. Here however are the reasons why this is beyond a poor rationale:
1) It is a logical fallacy to assume that because someone can do something that he somehow must. There's a huge difference between the fact that God can use evil for His greater good and Christians supporting evil because He can.
2) Without actual correlation, the King Cyrus argument works for everyone. Why is Hillary Clinton not King Cyrus? Why isn't President Obama? Worldly is worldly. Evil is evil. Yes God can use anyone for His ends but that means anyone.
3) There is nothing in the life or words of Donald Trump that remotely ties him to the experience of King Cyrus. There is no claim that God has shown him that all of his success in business was a result of God. There is no claim that God has told him he is to set the church free of something. There is no proclamation of anything. The only correlation that can be made is Cyrus was of the world and so is Trump so if God can use Cyrus then he can use Trump. But that leaves us with only one question. Why would He? In Cyrus God had a man that behaved in a manner that at least acknowledged and honored the God he may not have believed in. God got first billing in the proclamation. Cyrus was known for allowing conquered civilizations to continue to keep their customs and governments and designed his systems to work with theirs. Sure there was taxes and homage but in the end he was a relatively civil king in a very uncivil time. Perhaps it was the fear of this God he did not follow that had chosen him so early on as a vessel that led to such a benevolent and reasonable ruler.
Do we see anything of God in Donald Trump? Mocking the disabled. Mocking women. Creating disparaging nicknames for people he does not like. Three marriages. Sexual references to his daughter. Proposing our soldiers should commit war crimes. Condoning torture and the murder of innocents. This is supposed to be King Cyrus? Nice try but the Bible vehemently says he is not. Can God use him? Sure, He can use anyone. That is not reason to vote for him however. Don't be played for a sucker.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- August 6, 2016