The Problem with Comparing Donald Trump to the Persian King Cyrus

Another week and another scandalous set of remarks by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. This time it’s from a 2005 “hot mic” video with Billy Bush. I’m not entirely sure why people are shocked and stunned by this reveal – we’re talking about a guy here who was repeatedly interviewed by Howard Stern, and I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but Howard Stern interviews typically have a certain… shall we say, bend to them. Anyway, that’s not what this post is actually about.

In an attempt to excuse the actions of Donald Trump, I keep seeing Christians compare him to the Persian King Cyrus (or Cyrus the Great). It usually goes something like “Hey, God used a foreign king in the Old Testament to free the Jews and called him ‘Messiah,’ so who’s to say Trump isn’t a modern-day Cyrus?” In my mind, I’m usually thinking… “Ok, and God used a jackass to speak to Balaam in Numbers 22, so which analogy best fits the situation?” I digress.

Anyway…

Back to King Cyrus, I think there are several problems with this line of thinking. Now before I list those, let me make a disclaimer. I am not a political strategist and this isn’t an endorsement of any candidate. I’m a pastor who tries to help people read the Bible with integrity. I’ve had a bit of training in that area, but I make no claims about expertise. Having gotten that out of the way, here are the top 4 problems I see with comparing Donald Trump to King Cyrus the Great.

  1. God’s people did not chose Cyrus. They did not vote for him to be the leader of the Persian empire. They did not endorse his military conquest of much of the known world, including the Babylonian empire where they lived as exiles. This seems obvious, but I think it’s a pretty important distinction.
  2. Cyrus the Great was a foreigner (from modern-day Iran) with an anti-Yahweh religious background. In fact, many Iranians refer to him as “The Father.” Strange, right? Surely the irony isn’t lost… Iran, Trump, Cyrus, Father… On another note, Cyrus was also known for his religious tolerance and advancements in human rights. Again, irony.
  3. God’s people did choose a leader once. His name was Saul, and it didn’t work out so well. He absolutely looked the part of a great leader. But his character couldn’t keep him where his talents took him.
  4. This is 2016 AD, not 539 BC. And this is the United States of America, not the ancient near east, and you’re not living as an exile in a foreign country. I’m all for a narrative reading of the Bible that puts us into the action… “What’s the Red Sea in your life that you need God to part… trust in Him, stretch out over the uncertainty in your life, and watch God bring deliverance…” I love that reading and I especially love that preaching. But as they say on Monday Night Football… C’MON MAN!!! Or better yet, to quote the famous theologian, Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So that’s it. I don’t think Donald Trump is a modern-day Cyrus the Great, and there are my reasons. It’s not an exhaustive list, and I’m sure you can list more reasons. In fact, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

P.S. You may disagree with my remarks at the top, and you may be quoting Jesus’ words to me – “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” Now, I can’t take credit for this thought, but I think it’s very appropriate… “When Jesus said: Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. He was using those words to defend a woman from powerful men who sought to destroy her humanity. Don’t use His words to defend powerful men who want to destroy the humanity of women.” Thanks @micahjmurray.

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