LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT CYRUS THE GREAT

By Akin Ojumu

That the Almighty God uses imperfect people to accomplish His perfect purpose on earth should not be a matter of debate amongst those who have a good understanding of Scripture. No one who truly believes that God is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal and immutable would question that God frequently intervenes in the affairs of humankind and appoints over the children of men whomsoever He chooses. If God can use a dumb ass speaking with man's voice to rebuke the madness of a corrupt prophet, in His manifest wisdom, He can use just about any one of His creations to fulfill His divine desire.

Throughout the history of mankind, God has raised up men and women, mere earthen vessels, to carry out His will. By His divine power, the LORD has been known to transform mere mortals into near immortals. His mighty hands have been seen at work changing destiny of slaves and making them kings. God used a handful of unlearned hillbillies from the backwaters of Galilee to spread the good news of salvation from Jerusalem to Judea and to the uttermost part of the earth ushering in the dispensation of grace and the Church age.

Likewise, what should never be a matter of dispute among Christians is God’s attitude towards sin. Those who claim to serve a Holy God should not be at opposing sides of an argument over God’s intolerance to sin and repulsion to unrighteousness. The Scripture is quite explicit about the attitude of God when it comes to sinfulness. We all know, or rather, we should all know, that God hates sin.

In Hebrews 1:8-9 we read, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hath loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

Of late, a great schism has emerged within the Body of Christ. There is now a great divide amongst believers regarding the question of sin and God’s attitude towards sin. What God considers sin and what He expects Christians to do about it, have become a topic of impassioned debate in the Household of Faith. What once was thought to be an immovable ancient landmark, with regards to sinfulness and the righteous indignation it should appropriately arouse, have suddenly become victims in the shifting sands of false equivalence and carnal relativism, and sacrificial lambs of politics of convenience.

The attitude of some Christian folks to the many sins in the life of Donald Trump, whom these Christians, for some inexplicable reasons, have determined to be the chosen vessel of God who will restore the lost glory of Christianity first in America and then the rest of the world, in the mold of the historical Persian king, Cyrus the Great, have left many serious minded people perplexed and many a student of the Bible pondering.

The “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” response of these Christians to Trump’s resume of iniquities have caused those who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture to ask whether, “when God is using a man to carry out His purpose, He overlooks, tolerates, and permits the lack of compassion and empathy, fear mongering and engendering of discord exhibited by such a man?" The unbelieving world is asking, "does being used by God grant a license for an unfettered life of gross corruption, crass nepotism, and disregard for the rule of law?" People who fear the wrath of God are now wondering, "is lasciviousness, boastfulness, lies, arrogance, hatred, and bigotry all given a pass in the life of a man who is claimed to be used by God?" And those who are shepherd of God's flock are also been asked whether or not, "Christians are permitted to call out, expose, and condemn the sins committed by a man who is supposedly used by God?"

By turning a blind eye on the well catalogued chronicle of unrighteous deeds of Donald Trump, folks on the religious right of the political spectrum  who adore the man, and who see in him a restorer of Christian virtue in the public square seem to suggest that God is perfectly pleased with the sins of Donald Trump. These Trump worshipers are quick to remind everyone that his rise to the Office of the President of the United States, which was supposedly prophesied many years before it actually became a reality, is a supernatural phenomenon that has never before been seen in the annals of the history of humankind. And as the Cyrus of our time, Trump is busy carrying out God’s mandate, so whatever moral failings or character deficiencies he may have pale in comparison to the work of the LORD he is doing. They’ll also remind you that God uses imperfect vessels; Pharaoh, Moses, David, Nebuchadnezzar, King Cyrus, were all imperfect vessels that God used to carry out His purpose.

Therefore, they say, anyone who focuses on Trump’s long record of iniquity or points out how irreconcilable to biblical injunctions are Trump’s behaviors is either spiritually blind and ignorant of what God is doing or about to do, or willfully and deliberately trying to undermine the purpose of God on earth. To criticize Trump, these folks firmly believe, is to be clueless of the mighty move of God, and to condemn his iniquities is to touch God’s anointing.

Now, for those who place high premium on prophetic pronunciations and give careful consideration to divine proclamations, it takes some superhuman self-restraint – and a constant reminder by the Holy Spirit of what the Word of God says about testing all spirits – not to get sucked into the bubble of mass faux spiritual hysteria. Without the grace of God and a proper understanding of Scriptures, it is pretty easy to fall for the deceptive spirits and the false prophesies they spawn.

Because of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, we know God cannot contradict Himself or His Word and it is impossible for God to lie; God has magnified His Word even above His Name. A righteous God would not overlook unrighteousness. A Holy God would take no pleasure in wickedness and He would not tolerate the sins of the wicked. The Scripture says the proud will not stand in His presence, for He hates all who do evil. We also read in Scriptures that destruction awaits those who tell lies. The LORD on high detests murderers and deceivers (Psalms 5:4-6).

So, while it is true that God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes, there is no one that God uses that is not subject to His precepts. He does not grant a waiver to anyone from obeying His command simply because He uses such a man for His purpose. God would not compromise His statue neither would He contravene His own commands. Regardless of who you are before Him, God’s commandments must be obeyed by all men. Before God, all men are equal, and without exception, “the soul that sinneth, it shall surely die.”

The LORD is an ever-consistent God. He would not violate His principles because He wants to establish his purpose on earth and He would never go out of His character to condone the sin of any man. All of the people that God has used in the past have learned this lesson the hard way. David, the man after God’s heart, suffered severely for his transgression against the statue of God; His family was ripped apart, his own son tried to kill him, and he never fulfilled his desire to build a temple for God. When Nebuchadnezzar ran afoul of God’s ordinance, he was struck by God and he became a grass eating animal confined to the wild. Pharaoh, his great army, and all Egypt understood what it meant to fall into the hands of an angry God; for God demonstrated His wrath to the Egyptians. And mighty Moses never entered the land of promise because he trespassed against God in the presence of the children of Israel and for failing to live up to God's righteous principles.

Quite apparent is the fact that the folks on the religious right, who are quick to adorn the mantle of Cyrus on Donald Trump, have not read history and so really do not know King Cyrus. If only they knew the manner of man this Persian king was, it is highly doubtful they’ll be so confident in coronating a foulmouthed and coldhearted man like Trump as the present-day Cyrus.

Almost 200 years before he was even born, Isaiah prophesied about this same Cyrus. In Isaiah 45, we read about how God will raise Cyrus, whom He called His anointed. He was going to subdue nations and break the stranglehold of powerful kings. God was going to bless him abundantly with great wealth. God was going to single him out for honor him even though he wouldn’t know God – being a pagan who worshiped the idols of Persia. And God was going to do all this for this man who doesn’t worship, “for the sake of Jacob my servant, and Israel my chosen one,” (Isaiah 45:4.)

Isaiah 45:13 states, “I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness: I will make all his ways straight. He will build my city and set my exiles free, but not for a price or reward, says the LORD Almighty.” 

Cyrus wasn't going to release the Jews from captivity in Babylon as some kind of crafty transaction with God or with Israel. He wasn't going to allow the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem as a sort of favor for which God or the Jews would be in his debt. It wasn't going to be an investment that promised to yield a good ROI. It was not an act of mere political expediency. He was going to do it not because he wanted to gain support or win votes in the next elections. Cyrus was going to carry out the purpose of God without hoping for any reward or return. He would have nothing to gain and everything to lose for releasing the Jews back to their homeland. But he would do it anyway. He would do it because God moved him to do it; it would be a selfless act from a selfless heart. 

According to Ancient History Encyclopedia, Cyrus II (d. 530 BCE), also known as Cyrus the Great, was a Persian king, who in the sixth century led several military campaigns against the most powerful kingdoms of the time, including Media, Lydia, and Babylonia. Upon conquering these nations, he brought to an end the supremacy of the Babylonian king and united much of the Middle East under Persian hegemony while keeping the local administration mostly intact.

Much of what we know about the life of Cyrus before he became a king comes from the Greek author, Xenophon, who in his work, the Cyropaedia, a partly fictional biography, memorialized Cyrus the Great. The following are excerpts from the book.

The father of Cyrus is Cambyses, king of the Persians and his mother the Median princess Mandane, daughter of the Median king Astyages. Growing up, Cyrus was raised according to the Persian moral and ethical system that demanded that all parents instill in their children a strong moral ethics. The system commands them not to steal and not to rob, not to break into anybody's house, not to strike a person whom they have no right to strike, not to commit adultery, not to disobey an officer, etc.; and if a man transgresses anyone of these laws, they are punished severely. He was educated in his father’s court in the principles of the rule of law and to which rulers are themselves subject.

Under his Grandfather’s tutelage, Cyrus learned that it is better to have less than to have more. He was a kindhearted young man who, by showing love for others and sincere concern about their welfare, won the hearts of not only his grandfather but the hearts of his friends’ fathers as well, such that whenever they desire any favor of the king, they bade their sons ask Cyrus to do it for them. 

As a youth, Cyrus learned self-control, justice and gratitude. Though a prince, he submitted himself to mandatory military service, and he served alongside other children his age. His father the king, did not obtain for him a military draft deferment; Cyrus did not get a bone-spur medical waiver.

The National Geographic has the following to say about Cyrus.

On the death of his father, Cambyses I, Cyrus ruled the Achaemenid dynasty and expanded his ancestral realm into a mighty empire. He triumphed not just through conquest, but also by showing singular tolerance and mercy to those he defeated.

A brilliant military strategist, Cyrus vanquished the king of the Medes, then integrated all the Iranian tribes, whose skill at fighting on horseback gave his army great mobility. His triumph over Lydia, in Asia Minor near the Aegean Sea, filled his treasury with that country’s tremendous wealth.

Though he was a pagan who did not worship Elohim, Cyrus was a benevolent king. He went down in history as one of the most benevolent conquerors of all time, allowing his subjects to live—and worship—as they pleased.

The benevolent nature of Cyrus’s reign took many forms. He honored his subjects and cared for them as if they were his own children, and they, on their part, revered him as a father (National Geographic).

King Cyrus absorbed the brightest and the best of those he conquered into his government. His welcomed strangers into his nation, and even adopted the dressing and ornamentation of the foreigners living in his kingdom. In a practice that was until then unheard of, Cyrus allowed those he conquered to retain their own tradition. He understood the value and the energy that immigrants bring, and he welcomed anyone willing to contribute to the development of his empire. He did not build a wall around his empire, and did not snatch immigrant children from their mothers and locked them up in cages at the border. King Cyrus did not institute travel ban on citizens of other nations, neither did he enact a “Make Persia Great Again” policy. His reign was marked with what has been described as exemplary tolerance and pluralism.

The National Geographic writes further:

Across his conquered lands, he returned images of gods that had been seized in battle and hoarded in Babylon. However, Cyrus’s most renowned act of mercy was to free the captive Jews, whom Nebuchadnezzar II had forced into exile in Babylon. Cyrus allowed them to return to their promised land. The Jews praised the Persian emperor in Scripture as a savior to whom God gave power over other kingdoms so that he would restore them to Jerusalem and allow them to rebuild their Temple.

In short, the figure of Cyrus has survived throughout history as more than a great man who founded an empire. He became the epitome of the great qualities expected of a ruler in antiquity, and he assumed heroic features as a conqueror who was tolerant and magnanimous as well as brave and daring (Encyclopaedia Britannica).

Cyrus, a man raised on the principle of summum bonum and was taught from childhood to eschew avarice and embrace philanthropy, is the one the folks on the religious right would like to compare to Trump, a two-bob shitehawk. Cyrus, who grew up with honesty, humility, compassion, moral purity, loyalty and public service engrained in his character, is nothing like Donald Trump, a narcissist consumed with self, greed and ego.

It is quite clear that the “Trump is Cyrus” narrative is nothing but an Ambien the good folks of the religious right take as a remedy for their insomnia. Confronted with the moral fickleness and ethical fecklessness of Donald Trump, they struggle to find a way to rationalize their unholy alliance with him. And as someone so aptly described it, the Trump is Cyrus kool-aid is the theopolitical version of money laundering, it is taking Scripture to clean a dirty politician. It is the whitewashing of a sepulcher that is full of the rotten dried up bones of the dead.

To all those who have bought into the Trump is Cyrus deception, this is my answer. We know Cyrus the Great; Donald Trump doesn’t even come close. King Cyrus was a good and honorable man. His people loved him for his compassion and generosity, and his enemies revered him for his magnanimity and benevolence. Even though he did not know Yahweh as God, the life and reign of Cyrus exemplified everything Christ taught and demands of us. To compare him with Trump is to dishonor the memory of an exceptional human being.

SOURCES
1.    The Holy Bible
2.   Ancient History Encyclopedia, “Cyrus the Great”
3.   National Geographic, “Who was Cyrus the Great,”
4.   Encyclopedia Brittanica, “Cyrus the Great, King of Persia”
5.    Cyropaedia, by Xenophon (c. 430-c. 354 BCE)

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