For Evangelical Christians, Trump left but God didn’t - analysis

"The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away" - Job 1:21

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden attend a church service before his presidential inauguration, at St. Matthews Catholic Church in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. (photo credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)
President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden attend a church service before his presidential inauguration, at St. Matthews Catholic Church in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021.
(photo credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)
For Evangelical Christians, Wednesday’s changeover in Washington from Donald Trump to President Joe Biden was a trauma of biblical proportions.
The 78% of Evangelical Christians who voted for Trump were disheartened as they watched Biden sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
“It was not that they supported every tweet, every speech or every action of Donald Trump,” said Evangelical leader Joel Rosenberg. “But Evangelicals overwhelmingly supported the policy direction that Trump was taking for the country.”
Whether it was his stances against abortion or for gun ownership, Trump was seen by Evangelicals as upholding their American and religious values – and they had the feeling that he was doing many things specifically for them.
This was especially true when it came to his dedication to the State of Israel.
From moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City of Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, to the Abraham Accords and his hard-line stance against the Islamic terrorist regime, the former president arguably did more for Israel and the whole Middle East than any president in recent history.
In his efforts to politicize religion, Trump reawakened the national conversation about faith, religious liberties and moral decline. He kept Evangelical Christian leaders in his inner circle, despite personally representing few of their values.
“Even though he personally did not personify [biblical] values, he represented them to his followers,” explained Eliyahu Berkowitz, a “biblical news” writer for Israel365 News.
Evangelicals have long threaded a biblical narrative into Trump’s presidency, likening him to Cyrus, the historical king of Persia who liberated Jews from captivity in Babylon and allowed them to return to Israel and rebuild the Temple.
“There was a supernatural aspect to the election of Trump to the Oval Office,” Stephen Strang, founder and CEO of Charisma Magazine, said in an interview at the 2018 National Religious Broadcasters conference. “I think Trump feels a part of destiny.”
For many Evangelicals, God raised up Trump much like He did biblical kings and other leaders in ancient times.
Yet, Rosenberg explained that it was always understood that God could have multiple objectives at the same time, and “only He knows which ones He is going to elevate at a single moment.”
“God changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others,” Daniel 2:21 says.
“I don’t know that we understand [why Trump lost and Biden won], but I know that God has raised up Biden and allowed him to take this place,” explained Steve Wearp, the founder of Bless Buy Israel.
As such, despite the disappointment, he said that most Christians will honor the new president, whether or not they agree with his policies.
“We need to give honor where honor is due,” Wearp said.
Moreover, Rosenberg said that Christians believe that God has a plan for America, and “a terrible president might be God’s plan.”
In the Book of Exodus, God calls Pharaoh his “servant.”
According to Rosenberg, God was using Pharaoh to prove his power to the nation of Israel and to show it that He loved and cared for it.
Likewise, God raised up King Nebuchadnezzar, whom He also describes as “my servant,” and then used the king to destroy Jerusalem and send the Jewish people into exile – “a punishment,” according to Rosenberg, which was for the Jewish people’s own good.
“God can use a range of leaders to accomplish some good things and some not so good things,” he said. “God can use bad people and punish bad people – and then He can redeem them. That should be a sign of hope for us all.”
WHATEVER HIS divine role was meant to be, Trump disappointed his constituency in his final weeks in office.
A poll published by All Israel News this week showed that 42% of US Evangelicals “disapprove” of Trump and that 36% believed that Trump should be impeached.
The poll was conducted by John McLaughlin, a senior political adviser to the former president and other Republican leaders. It shows that although 78% of Evangelicals voted for Trump, the Capitol riot and Trump’s failed response to the event caused many of his strongest supporters to become disillusioned and disappointed in him in his final weeks in office.
Even former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, whose own daughter served as Trump’s press secretary, said the former president gave Democrats reason to be “glad he’s leaving.”
“There is a policy legacy that Evangelicals really appreciated and will always appreciate,” said Rosenberg. “But there will be an assessment... that he stumbled bad at the end.”
There were many Evangelical Christians who four years ago were hesitant to trust a man who said “grab ’em by the pussy” and who claimed to be “the chosen one’’ while cheating at business and on his wives. They, too, are likely disappointed with themselves for deciding to support Trump despite his character flaws, which caught up with him in his final weeks and caused the former president to do and say things that Evangelicals could not support.
But Bible readers are used to flawed leaders.
King David is known for his adultery with Bathsheba and sending her husband into battle with orders to his commander that he be sent to the front lines so he would be killed. The blood of Bathsheba’s husband is considered to be on King David’s hands.
“Were people disappointed with King David?” asked Rosenberg. “They were. But overall, King David’s legacy stands, despite the stains on his record.”
He said that really effective leaders can be deeply flawed, but that does not mean they were not leaders in their time.
And he also said that with the transition from Trump to Biden, God has not left the White House.
PRESIDENTS ARE not pastors, priests or rabbis. They do not speak for God. But a president can choose either to put in place policies that defend biblical values or ones that oppose them, Rosenberg explained.
“Defending Israel’s sovereignty and advancing peace in the Middle East were wonderful biblical values that Trump advanced, but Biden could turn out to be a great friend of Israel and bring more peace treaties,’’ Rosenberg said.
He noted that, ultimately, Christians are faced with two ways in which to react to the new president: either they can see him as doing no right, or they can find the areas on which they can agree.
“Sadly, I think that Biden, although a Catholic and a very nice and amiable person, [is not] going to defend the rights of an unborn child to be born – a biblical value,” Rosenberg said. “Christians still have to find a way to respect the office and support what we can – and encourage Biden to do right.”
Just as Christians prayed for Trump, they must pray for Biden, too, he said.
“We all need to be praying for President Biden and Vice President Harris, and their families,” said Rosenberg. “Where we disagree with them, we should — and will — be clear, firm but respectful. But when they do things right, we should be willing to say so.”
Wearp also said the Christian Right will have to stand up courageously and ensure that their voices are heard, criticizing the president when he goes against what they believe should be American values.
And the Evangelical community will also have to do its own soul-searching, Rosenberg said.
“The Lord giveth,” said Rosenberg, quoting Job 1:21, “and the Lord taketh away.”