[UPDATED JUNE 29, 2016] If you want to have an interesting, perhaps even heated discussion, bring up Donald Trump with your friends.
People either love him or hate, there is little middle ground. But it looks like he is the Republican’s presumptive nominee for president and will be facing off with Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee for the Democrats.
Dr. James Dobson, founder of the Christian organization Focus on the Family, recently reported that Donald Trump has become a born-again Christian. Dobson did not lead Trump to Christ but is reporting that he personally knows the person who did, but is not giving his name.
In a meeting with several Evangelical Christians, Dobson said, “I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long. I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”
In reference to Trumps language and rough edges, Dobson added, “You have got to cut him some slack. He didn’t grow up like we did.”
Because of the interest in the news about Trump’s conversion, Dobson released a bit more information on his website which seems to tone down his earlier statements made in an interview with Michael Anthony of GodFactor.com.
Only the Lord knows the condition of a person’s heart. I can only tell you what I’ve heard. First, Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit. I also hear that Paula White has known Trump for years and that she personally led him to Christ. Do I know that for sure? No. Do I know the details of that alleged conversion? I can’t say that I do.
But from a Biblical perspective does Trump or any leader need to be a Christian to be an effective president?
The answer is no.
Throughout the Old Testament we have a number of kings described as God’s anointed. This included Jewish Kings and surprisingly even secular ones.
One who stands out in the latter regard is King Cyrus of Persia (600 – 530 BC). The prophet Isaiah described Cyrus this way:
“It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd!
And he will perform all My desire.’
And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’
And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”
Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed,
Whom I have taken by the right hand,
To subdue nations before him
And to loose the loins of kings;
To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: (Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1 NASV)
In the verses that followed (Isaiah 45:1-7), God says that He was raising up Cyrus even though he did not know Jehovah (v 4). Because of God’s anointing, Cyrus was going to subdue nations and receive “the treasures of darkness.”
When Isaiah called Cyrus God’s anointed, the prophet used the Hebrew word “mashiah,” from which we get the word “Messiah.” The word means simply “anointed” or the “anointed one.”
The term was used to describe a number of Israel’s kings such as King David (2 Samuel 12:7). The word was also applied to prophets (1 Kings 19:16) and priests (Leviticus 4:3).
God anointed people to carry-out certain tasks — be it ruling (leadership), prophetic or priestly duties.
So in the case of Cyrus, God had anointed the Persian king to do a particular job, in this case to restore Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Isaiah 44:28).
From archaeological records, Cyrus was a very unusual king. He is described as being fair and treated his subjects well in comparison to other self-serving despots who ruled at the time.
Though he expanded his empire by invading and conquering other countries, Cyrus was often welcomed with open arms because the people were freed from the despots who ruled and abused them.
He respected customs of all the nations he conquered and set up an administrative system that benefited and protected his citizens.
He would eventually defeat the Babylonians and according to the archaeological records, the Babylonians jubilantly welcomed Cyrus as their king.
When Cyrus took over Babylon, he made significant changes. Where the Babylonians forcibly removed people and sent them into captivity in other countries, Cyrus reversed that policy and allowed them to return to their homeland.
He even provided financial help to those returning to rebuild their devastated cities.
So when Cyrus gave the edict and financial aid allowing the Israelis to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11; Ezra 6:2-5), this was completely in character with how he ruled.
It may even be a bit ironic that God describes Cyrus as “His Shepherd.” According to Greek historian Herodotus, Cyrus was born to a Persian king Cambyses who ruled part of the empire of his father-in-law — Astyages.
However, Astyages had a dream that he would be killed by his grandson Cyrus and ordered one of his servants to kill Cambyses’s son.
But according to Herodotus, the servant instead sent Cyrus away to be raised by a shepherd and his wife.
When Cyrus eventually returned to his family, he quickly rose up in the ranks in Cambyses’s army and took over his dad’s kingdom when his father died.
He would then launch an attack against his grandfather’s Media empire deposing him as ruler forming what would become the Persian-Media empire.
Cyrus eventually built one of the largest empires the world has ever seen and because of the generous way he treated his subjects, archaeologist and author Patrick Hunt describes him as one of the great men in history.
So yes, God can and will raise up leaders to accomplish His will.