A Liberty University-produced film called “The Trump Prophecy,” claims that Donald Trump’s election in 2016 can be attributed to divine intervention, and that Trump is the King Cyrus of our times.
Cyrus the Great was the king of Persia in the second half of the sixth century BCE. He conquered the Babylon and established a huge empire. He allowed the Israelites, who had been exiled there some 50 years earlier, to return to their native land, to govern themselves and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. For this, the book of Isaiah declares that Cyrus was “messiah”, anointed by God to deliver the Israelites.
For the creators of “The Trump Prophecy,” the comparison with Cyrus has obvious appeal. It emphasizes the global power of the U.S. presidency. It implicitly condemns the previous administration: the exile from God that Trump is now reversing. And it makes Trump out to be the savior of God’s people, permitting them to live and worship as they please.
Although he may be beloved of the Christian right, Trump is no man of God. He is, like Cyrus, a pagan and a “tool of God”. This is often admitted by Trump’s “court evangelicals”. But to evangelicals Trump’s election was God’s plan.
But why would Cyrus do it in the first place? Here is where the equation with Trump becomes most interesting, and potentially revealing. The restoration of peoples to their lands, and the permission for them to self-govern (with Persian imperial oversight), was a broad policy under Cyrus. It was not just the Israelites he treated this way. It is easier to supervise a relatively self-governing group than it is to enforce Persian laws in a foreign and resistant land — but also, and perhaps predominantly, the policy was a propaganda coup. By appropriating local religious beliefs, he cemented his imperial domination and curried favor with the conquered peoples.
This is what happened in Israel as well. The declaration in Isaiah that Cyrus is God’s anointed ruler is not Israelite prophecy; it is Persian propaganda. The biblical writers bought what Cyrus was selling, and elevated him to the level of a David or Solomon. The parallel with Trump and his evangelical prophets is close. Trump too has effectively spoken the language of the religious right, promising them a return to their cherished customs and beliefs. (They’ll be able to say “Merry Christmas” again!)
Like Cyrus, Trump doesn’t care about the actual religious beliefs he is supporting. What he wants is free rein to do as he likes — with the support of those whose local authority he is propping up. He has offered influence, but not real power itself. And they have bought what he is selling. He is quite literally, to be a messiah figure.
It may all seem utterly ridiculous, of course, but there is an important historical lesson here. For though Cyrus restored Israel to self-governance, there would never be another Israelite king. The ceding of power to Cyrus marked the end of Israel’s native form of government. Proclaiming Trump to be a modern-day Cyrus is, implicitly and perhaps even unconsciously, to suggest that our own native form of government may have come to its untimely end. (Joel Baden, professor of Hebrew Bible, Yale Divinity School, published on Religion News Service : https://religionnews.com/2018/10/04/the-trump-prophecy-includes-troubling-parallels-for-american-democracy/).
The support of evangelicals for a man who is a self-adoring huckster and whose every third word is a lie, a man who despises the poor, women and minorities – all this disqualifies them as a Christian sect. They are a political sect, manipulated constantly and expertly. Even evangelicals overseas do not regard them as christians.