Evangelical Christians hold varied interpretations of events that will usher in the second coming of Jesus and equally varied thoughts on what part the United States might play in its unfolding.
Generation after generation has believed that it is witnessing the End Times -- and today's evangelicals are no different.
In their support for President Donald Trump, there is a keen awareness that his policies could draw nigh the end of times and facilitate Jesus's return, and there is no need for Trump to be 'one of them' if God intends to use him.
“For American evangelicals, there is a term of praise for President Trump that falls like a question mark on most everyone else: ‘You are Cyrus,’” writes Samuel Goldman in a recent New York Times op-ed. “That’s what the Christian pro-Israel activist Mike Evans promised to tell President Trump after his announcement that the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem.”
He says top evangelicals — circles in which I decidedly do not travel —support Trump because they believe him to be the 21st century embodiment of the Old Testament monarch Cyrus.
In their minds, Trump’s willingness to go against the grain means he can support biblical mandates and even fulfill biblical prophecies that may usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, the Persian king Cyrus allowed the Jews to return from exile and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem, thereby proving that God can work His divine plan through ungodly men.
And some evangelicals appear to hold Trump in the same light.
For them, Trump’s appointment of conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, for instance, and his startling, controversial decision on the U.S. embassy, fits the Cyrus bill perfectly.
Many evangelicals expect Jerusalem to become the center of the world’s attention during the period leading up to Jesus’ return. Some say the Jewish temple will eventually be reconstructed there. Some say a cataclysmic world will may erupt in the process.
But Trump is not the first to be viewed as Cyrus, nor is he likely to be the last:
In the 1790s, a New Jersey minister imagined President John Adams as a potential Cyrus.
In the 1890s, it was President Benjamin Harrison. More than 400 prominent citizens, including a Supreme Court justice, a future president, and tycoons J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, beseeched Harrison to carve Palestine from the Ottoman Empire and give it to the Jews. Their petition’s cover letter explicitly compared Harrison to Cyrus.
In 1953, President Harry Truman did them one better. Introduced as the man who had helped create the state of Israel, Truman replied, “What do you mean, ‘helped create’? I am Cyrus!”