“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the Lord of hosts.”Zechariah 4:6, Bible, NKJV
Do you think if Israel and her leaders had been living and moving into Freedom from the days of Cyrus’ reign that God would have said this to Zerubbabel? It is also important to remember that the first temple of the Lord was destroyed because the people of Israel refused to do it God’s way and lived in a constant state of rebellion. I mentioned this scripture in the first short article in 2016. But here is why it is so very important in today’s interpretation of events.
This whole matter of “Cyrus” unfolds over a period of years. It also involves multiple books of the Bible, like Isaiah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah… and while I am just doing a “fly-by” on the stories, it is critical to really dig into what God was doing in those days. Zechariah clearly had direct engagement with the Lord and with Angels. Satan is mentioned and rebuked as well! None of this story of Cyrus was about Cyrus. Now – if you interpret it in the context of how a Jewish Rabbi might look at it – Cyrus becomes the focal point of the history and the stories. But that is not who we (Christians) are today.
Check this out! God chose to reveal Cyrus through Isaiah nearly 150 years before he was even born. But Cyrus was not the focal point of the prophecy or what God would do for Israel. God was the focal point and a foreshadowing of His Son (Jesus), who would free all of mankind – not just Israel, although He did refer to Israel and her people as the “apple of My eye.” How neat is that!
In short, God told Zechariah to make sure that Israel’s leaders remain focused on Him (YHWH) – not on Cyrus, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, or Darius – all pagans who would play key roles in accomplishing God’s will for His people. Do you think it might be a mistake to attribute this kind of power and hope during an election for president of the United States? I think there is a lot more we as Christians can do to support in-coming leaders and with a lot less drama. Think about it…
Cyrus was the beginning of a “process” that would take many years and work its way through the reign of several pagan monarchs. For those of us who follow Christ and believe in God’s epic story unfolding in our lifetime, then we must also look at the fact that this story of freedom not only worked its way through the pagan leaders, it also traveled the dusty roads of our own Biblical heroes like Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah and those whose names are not widely known. Consider how short sighted it is for our modern-day pastors (seeking the limelight) to ascribe the likeness of these Biblical characters to a man in modern times.
It is our place as Christians to support our leaders, and perhaps God may have a hand (as He says He does) in who becomes a leader. However, to inject pride, ego, pomp-and-circumstance into our support for government leaders is self-serving at best. Power does not rise this way. It rises through prayer and trusting in God’s hand on us… trusting in His protection and guidance. Allowing Him to lead us as we help our leaders to lead well… Let’s continue to look at Cyrus, but I’ll explain why it is short-sighted to handle the Word regarding Cyrus as we have in just a moment.
Cyrus did essentially four things as he began the process of freeing the Jewish captives from Babylon.
- He gave his blessing to Israel to return and re-build the temple. He issued his blessing to Zerubbabel and Jeshua – both leaders of Israel, one civic (governor) and the other church leader (priest), respectively.
- He sent them on their way with what they needed to achieve their mission. I call this “Go!” – you’ll see.
- He provided them authority and what they needed to begin. I call this “Do!” – hang with me!
- He then provided resources – money and support.
In short, Cyrus was a conquering King who took a small inheritance and turned it into “Persia.” He was responsible for many innovations and even expanded the special capabilities of the military. Did you know he began the first “mail system” of sorts? This was a brilliant man – but he was a pagan king none-the-less, that God chose to use to free His people – because it was God’s timing – not Cyrus’.
So, Cyrus provided at God’s direction, a Blessing + Go + Do + Resources. These are all positive and deliberate / directed initiatives that resulted in the freedom and rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. These restorations took time and were met with resistance along the way. It would be a few monarchs later before the “process” was finished. Why is this important today?
It is important today because nothing similar has happened with the Church at large. Both the Church and the Country are in a greater state of chaos than at any other time in all of our present day lives.
But that’s not the end. Cyrus and the story of how he led can provide a good strategic example of how the Church should be leading today. But, when we forget the spiritual warfare dimension of this time we live in, we walk into a spiritual minefield of sorts and lose sight of the true King of Kings and how He modeled and instructed us to “capture the world.” (Matthew 28: 16 – 20)
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28: 16 – 20
Christian, think about what Jesus said! Does it sound familiar? Does it sound in likeness to what Cyrus claimed – which was only partially true? There is more…
In general, from the strategic and spiritual leadership points of view, we really missed it, both on the front and back end of the last five years. Let’s move on and I’ll walk with you through spiritual war aligning itself with what we are able to see in the temporal. Believer, we are at war in this life and world and we are at war in our own American culture. There is much to learn from Cyrus and the monarchs, as well as how God’s people worked with and among them during those ancient days. Remember, Persia was a pagan nation(s) and hostile to God and His people. That did not matter to God then – or now. However, since that time, God already sent His son – a conquering King and the One Who He sent into all of the world to free all who would follow Him out of darkness. Think about that! Wow! But we have lost sight of the POWER that He has given us as He transforms these captive hearts and minds, lost in the devil’s Kingdom of darkness. So, let’s keep moving (Ex. 14: 14) and allow His Spirit to lead us through the desert of our contemporary condition. He will fight for us!
Who Was Cyrus – And Why Does He Matter Today?
So, who was Cyrus the Great, and why does he matter in today’s political climate and on the world stage? Here is some of what I know and what I have learned.
Let’s start in Israel. Not ancient Israel, but in the modern day. Do you remember the beginning of the very first rumblings about a potential global pandemic? That same month, March 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaimed that Donald J. Trump was comparable to the ancient Persian King, Cyrus the Great. Trump had just declared the Golan Heights as sovereign under the authority and leadership of Israel. Earlier in December of 2017, President Trump had declared Jerusalem as the recognized capital of Israel.
Now, all this sounds fantastic! Doesn’t it? Or does it? Well, I guess it really depends on who you are and what doctrine drives your worldview today. While incredibly interesting, this concern/topic really represents something that EVERY follower of Christ should be concerned with… but we’re not.
It is right about here that you might mistakenly think or feel that this article is just my opinion. But may I ask you to hang with me to the end? I am going to make a case that I think most Christians will be able to follow, and in the end, it will become much more than opinion or an editorial. Let’s dig in here.
First, President Trump is not the first American President to be identified with Cyrus. In 1947 President Harry Truman also self-identified as Cyrus, as did President Wilson, and British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour. In the American Biblical worldview, it is reasonable to conclude that many Americans, especially “Christian Americans,” tend to believe that identifying and “blessing” Israel will in general Biblical terms, result in God’s favor and blessings on America. So, even during the election of 2016, Donald Trump was referred to as Cyrus-Trump. It is not a matter of prophetic utterance that such proclamations were made. And where this bestowed title was claimed as “prophecy,” well… then… perhaps those individuals and organizations should consider the ramifications that a holy God might impart either in this life – or the next. Predictive analysis is not synonymous with prophetic utterance. This is seen clearly in 2019, when Benjamin Netanyahu declared Donald Trump as another “Cyrus” in Israel.
In the first article, I made mention of “analytics” and predictive analysis. I think this is important to at least do a quick fly-by and acknowledge that many in today’s modern church seem to mistake prophetic utterance with the ability to watch and absorb the news, history and other facts and collate these into semi to fairly accurate predictions. It’s then easy to sprinkle a little smoke and dust over them, maybe yell out the utterance in a public venue – and call it a “prophecy.” Yep, I know I am stepping on toes here.
I waited for four years to open this can of worms. Christian, as we move into a new chapter dawning over all of us, we must pay closer attention to reality. We must listen for the real and true voice of God. We must stop playing Church and start building strength and integrity into our pulpits and “small groups.” The model was the early church. You can learn about it in the Book of Acts, and all through the New Testament.
But, for now, let’s stay focused on Cyrus and why he is important to us today. Near the end, I’m going to reveal for you how this pathway also leads to the One God and to the Truth.
Only God is Truly Sovereign – But Many Times He Chooses to Tell Us What He is Doing
We might not know the details and God may choose not to tell us what we don’t need to know. But, when it comes to His plan, He is always open with us and He for many generations told His people that He would be sending the One Who would free them and all future generations (us!). It is a deep mistake to consider the prophecy about Cyrus to be some sort of magic wand wave that freed God’s people in an instant. It didn’t happen that way. It has been my life-experience walking with God, (for about the same amount of time as Israel walked through the desert after leaving Egypt), that He gives us what we need to know, for the time and place we are presently. When He chooses to reveal the future, you can be sure that His revelation isn’t about you or me – or any person for that matter. His will is about His Son and about His plan for our lives and His Kingdom – both here on Earth and in the future. With that in mind, let’s return to Cyrus – before he was even born!
In the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, Chapter 45, that prophet of old, prophesied of Cyrus nearly 150 years before that monarch would even walked the Earth. Through Isaiah, He even called him (Cyrus) by name and stated clearly that he (Cyrus) would be “my shepherd” and free Israel from captivity. I can only imagine what Satan must have thought when this prophecy reached him. Consider that Daniel revealed there was a great satanic principality that ruled over all of Persia. I gather from this that the enemy of God believed he pretty well had Persia locked down by the time Cyrus was born. He also held Cyrus captive as a pagan king and a follower of ruthless and wicked gods of the time. What more could he (Satan) have done to ensure that Isaiah’s prophecy would fall short? But watch this! What God did is so amazing… And, if we will trust Him, come together as His people, humble ourselves and pray, He will do great and mighty works in our generation as well.
Here is some of what we know about Cyrus and God’s hand on him. Let’s look at this together.
Cyrus knew of the prophecy, but he was not a follower of the God of Israel, Yahweh (YHWH). Cyrus was the founder of the Persian Empire and a heathen King who worshiped the pagan, Babylonian gods, Marduk, Bel, and Nebo. He was a conquering king but had a practice of benevolence in that he allowed many of his captives to return to their homelands and rebuild their homes. Such was true of Cyrus regarding Israel.
There is so much rich history here to explore and discuss, but we’ll move on for the sake of time and space. It might be worth noting though, that comparing Donald Trump to Cyrus the Great, or Truman or anyone else for that matter is really something of fantasy and visions of grandeur. To proclaim a “Cyrus Prophecy” regarding a U.S. president and in reference to the American Christian Church, is to put hope in a false narrative and a façade of faith, rather than in the One Who promised and has made good upon becoming and continuing as our “Good Shepherd.” In Isaiah 44: 28, God refers to Cyrus (who is not yet born) as “My shepherd.” Yes, he was a foreshadowing of the shepherd Who will one day set all God’s people free. Yet, Cyrus, a pagan, was a gentile and a man who was not a follower of YHWH (Yahweh). Why is this important?
Let’s see who else made a similar claim. But first, it’s definitely interesting to look at a few of Cyrus’ accomplishments. He did in fact found Persia and preceded future Persian rulers such as Artaxerxes I and Darius I. Each one of these rulers were self-proclaimed “king of kings.” Without digging too deeply into historical events (they are super interesting though!), let’s look at a few of the accomplishments.
First, Cyrus knew that he was prophesied to rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. Israel had been taken into captivity and the temple destroyed. But we seem to forget about the events that unfolded in the Book of Daniel! What of the “Prince of Persia?” An obvious reference to a demonic principality that maintained authority over Persia in the years of Cyrus, Artaxerxes, and Darius. There is reference to angelic warriors who fought to answer the prayers of Daniel and other references that would lead us to the obvious conclusion that there was a lot more going on than the affairs and politics of men.
I think what stands out to me is that even though the enemy of the Kingdom of God had obvious hold and authority over the Persian regime and kingdom, God still moved on, influenced and controlled Cyrus when it mattered. It was time for God’s people to be set free. It had been prophesied and the events of those prophesies had come to pass.
In stark contrast, there were no such events, similarities, or parallels regarding President Trump before during or after his short term in office. Consider these facts:
- Cyrus was prophesied by name before his birth. He knew it and responded.
- Cyrus responded to God’s voice and influence over him.
- Cyrus was commanded by God – not a “liking” to anything else or anyone else.
- Cyrus directed God’s people to return home and to rebuild the temple of the Lord.
- Cyrus provided both funding and protection for God’s people. He ordered them to Go – and Do.
- Cyrus believed that he was the king of kings over all of the Earth – Four corners in his words.
- Cyrus had a skewed belief regarding his own authority over the Earth.
- Cyrus issued a blessing over Israel and acknowledges their God and their need for His presence with them.
- Cyrus recorded his instructions that were later found by Darius and acted on to finish the temple and to fund it.
- Cyrus commands Israel to make provisions for their own journey and tasks. He leads them.
- Cyrus inspires unity and appeals to both spiritual and civil leadership. Jeshua (Priest) and Zerubbabel (Governor)
- Cyrus provides what amounts to top-cover protection, while Israel discusses, plans, and executes their plans (worked together).
- Cyrus promotes unity – not division. For Cyrus, this was a strategy. God exploited His enemies and turned Cyrus into a great shepherd for His people. Consider that God could not find a single person among His own that would rise to the level of leadership needed to free His people from the World or Satan. At least, not yet.
This list can be expanded and there are several blogs that can be written from all the parallels and lessons in these Old Testament historical stories. However, let’s stay focused on the real question: Fool’s Gold or Lessons Learned?
The Church must learn from the last four years. The eight years prior left the American church in what amounted to a “panic.” When promises began to be made that would help restore losses and regain ground, a desperate effort to paint the election with prophecy and Providence ensued. Four years later, the Church is in the worst shape in American history. It is fractured, broken, dissolved and in some cases extinct. However, from the ashes, I believe there is hope. I am going to share with you why.
If you’ve read any of the allegory I’ve written in the preemptive works for “Born Into War,” then you can catch a glimpse of what I envision is really going on here and in history.
First, to bring closure to the Cyrus likening… If President Trump had been a “Cyrus” for the modern-day Church… he would have had to do several things that aligned with Cyrus the Great. Having been in D.C. before and after Trump, I would say that the actual authority of the White House had little influence on what Mr. Trump referred to as “the swamp.”
The Border issue is one such example. Darius I was somewhat of the culmination to the edicts of Cyrus. He empowered and funded Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after much opposition. In likeness, numerous pastors and teachers claimed that Trump was also a modern day “Nehemiah.” In other words, it appeared that enthusiastic Christians were bestowing divine authority and kingship on a man who most of the country, at that time, were struggling to grapple with many of his moral decisions prior to the election. The nexus of restoring the Church in America was clear. However, the context of Cyrus, Nehemiah and some who called him “Esther,” seems to display and reveal the anxious and dysfunctional heart of the modern American Church, post Obama years.
The Border issue is still an issue – there is no real “wall” per se. And the swamp is still full of corruption, incompetence, and darkness.
Cyrus completed his reign under God’s hand and set the pathways for leaders after him to keep his commands and to continue his work. He left a unified Israel and a building temple in Jerusalem. After the elections of November 2020, no such thing has happened. So, Church, let’s be careful what we do in God’s name and let’s be very careful to seek His will for our lives and work.
Have you considered these few important lessons from the Bible as you consider separating Christianity from Conservatism? Isn’t that really what we are talking about? Let’s dig a little deeper before we end this article.
I wonder what Satan was doing while God was “stirring” Cyrus? I bet he felt somewhat helpless! That just kind of gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Even amid our darkest days, we can know that God is working for us. We can know that He is moving mountains and that there is no enemy able to thwart His plans for our lives. Even with Daniel, who waited for weeks for the angels to arrive as a result of his prayers and fasting… they arrived! His story and testimony give us a little glimpse into the reality that there was a very high-level demon principality that was referred to, even by angels, as the “Prince of Persia.”
There is a war going on! But do we live as if we are at war? I would submit that maybe we live more like we are on the set of “Saving Private Ryan” than actually engaged in a real spiritual war that manifests itself in spiritual, emotional, psychological and terrestrial battles. What do you think?
We say most often that it is invisible, and we can’t see it, but I would have to offer a different perspective. When our eyes are open and we are living in God’s Truth, we can see it. We just don’t see with temporal eyes or hear with our physical ears. We begin to recognize how the enemy works and the tactics and strategies he uses against us. And, if we are filled by His Holy Spirit and moving in life guided by His Divine hand, then we begin to see and hear in ways that are beyond the five senses and we learn that our discernment becomes confirmable by His Word. I hope that some will begin to see and immediately discern how this relates to Cyrus the Great.