Does the ‘Cyrus prophecy’ help explain evangelical support for Donald Trump?
The Persian king might have been a pagan, but he still served God’s plans. For some Christians, Donald Trump does just thatDonald Trump is anointed by God,” my Indianapolis Uber driver confided. I’d asked why she had Trump/Pence stickers on her rear bumper. It was the day before the presidential election and I would have asked anyone, but I was particularly
interested because she was a decorous, middle-aged black woman.
“Well,” she’d begun, “I’m a Christian and I’m very much against abortion, and I don’t approve of same-sex marriage either. And, Mr Trump has said he’ll appoint supreme court justices who agree.”
I told her I understood. Still, I wondered how she could support someone so greedy and self-aggrandizing, so profane and offensive to women and minorities, someone who seemed so “un-Christian”.
“Yessss,” she responded slowly. “You’re right. But he doesn’t have to be a Christian to be part of God’s plan. Our minister says he’s come to tear down the corrupt order just as Nebuchadnezzar did.” And just as the pagan Nebuchadnezzar had the prophet Daniel to counsel him, “Mr Trump has godly men around him. Governor Pence, Jerry Falwell Jr, Mike Huckabee.”
Did her whole congregation believe this, and who were they? “Oh yes,” she said. “We all do. And we’re multicultural, too. Black and white and Hispanic. Although,” she added, as I was getting out of the cab, “There are also many who believe that Mr Trump is not Nebuchadnezzar but a Cyrus.” Nebuchadnezzar, I remembered, had destroyed the first temple in Jerusalem, forcing the Jews into the Babylonian captivity.
Cyrus, the pagan Persian king who was called “the Great”, had conquered Babylon in 539 BC, freed the Jews, and returned them to Jerusalem where they would rebuild the temple. He might not have been one of God’s people, the thinking among some Christians goes, but he still served God’s plans.
The belief that a politician is the subject of biblical prophecy gives his election an aura of inevitability and his actions an unquestionable authority. In the year of his campaign, Trump was described by a variety of religious supporters as “the last Trumpet” who would galvanize the second coming of Christ, and a modern King David, as well as Nebuchadnezzar. Most often, however, he was recognized as “Cyrus”.
In an official White House statement on Wednesday, Trump quoted King Cyrus on the occasion of Persian new year.
While most will have regarded this as a routine pleasantry, for others, this message will have considerable significance.
The earliest and most visible public proponent of the Cyrus connection was Lance Wallnau, a business consultant who has a doctorate in ministry. In 2016, before he met candidate Trump, “the Lord spoke” to Wallnau, telling him: “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.” Before his second meeting with Trump a few months later, Wallnau saw an image of him as the 45th president and, once again, heard God speaking: “Read Isaiah 45.”
Wallnau was impressed that God was speaking to him again – and impressed, as well, by the numerical connection between the 45th president and the 45th chapter of Isaiah. “Thus says the Lord,” the chapter begins, “to His anointed, to Cyrus.” Reading further back in Isaiah, Wallnau saw that the Lord had named Cyrus “My Shepherd…” saying to Jerusalem “‘You shall be built,’ and to the temple ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”
To Wallnau, the message was clear. Trump had been elected by God and would soon be elected by Americans to fulfill the prophecy. He was a warrior against the global “demonic agenda”, “raising the warning cry about the unraveling of America.” Trump’s obvious faults and flaws only confirmed the prophecy: Cyrus, like Trump, was powerful, rich, and pagan, not at all godly.
It’s impossible to know how many voted for Trump believing he was a Cyrus, fulfilling Biblical prophecy, but there are hints.
White evangelicals were crucial to Trump’s electoral victory; 81%, some 28 million, voted for him. The book in which Wallnau recounts his prophecy, God’s Chaos Candidate, was #19 on the Amazon bestseller list shortly before the election, and is still selling well.
And in the months since Wallnau first reported his communication from God, other prominent Evangelists, including Curt Landry and Derek WH Thomas, have spread the word about the Cyrus prophecy. Meanwhile, another Evangelical with a large following, Michael Brown, has been speaking of Trump in a more “nuanced” way, not prophesied but as “parallel” to Cyrus.
Some ultra Orthodox Jews, like Rabbi Matityahis Glazerson, have also embraced the Cyrus prophesy. For them Trump is a “Moshiach,” as well as a Cyrus, a Messiah-like figure who will help Israel to “settle properly in its land”. Trump’s support for Israel, his daughter’s conversion to Judaism, and the president’s commitment to moving the US embassy – a kind of modern temple – from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, confirm the prophecy.
Hints that Trump himself has become religious – the respect he shows Evangelical leaders, his assertion that he prays – reinforce Evangelicals’ conviction. Many believe, as Wallnau has suggested, that Trump is being “refined.” According to Landry, “Donald Trump is reportedly born again.”
Many Evangelicals who voted for Trump continue to have an abiding faith in his presidency. Just as Cyrus returned the Jews to Jerusalem, and restored their wealth, so Trump, they fervently believe, will restore a lost world of personal safety, psychological security and material prosperity.
Others are cautiously optimistic. Brown appreciates “the guy who’ll go out and take on the enemy” of political correctness and government overreach, but is also troubled by Trump’s “unpresidential” lies, abusiveness, and impulsiveness.
Still others have become more skeptical, deeply pained by Trump’s mean-spirited treatment of refugees from political and religious oppression – the “neighbors” whom Jesus admonished us to “love as ourselves”. And now Evangelicals who voted for Trump are worried about outright betrayal. Middle and working class, elderly, and rural, they fear that Trump’s Obamacare replacement will deprive them of the medical care they desperately need.
The historical Cyrus was an architect and steward of a well-run, stable government, a leader of great generosity as well as authority, and a champion of religious tolerance and freedom.
If Donald Trump lives up to that precedent and his own promises to protect and support all our health and welfare, he will justify the allegiance of those who believe in a Cyrus prophesy or parallel – and likely win more converts.
If he continues to exercise power with little of Cyrus’ wisdom, generosity, and compassion, it is likely that a core group, whose support was buttressed with Biblical precedent, will lose faith.
Article Link: theguardian.com
Date-stamped: 23 Mar 2017
Time-stamped: 10.00 GMT
Author: James S Gordon