Gorbachev was like Biblical king Cyrus: he liberated the people of God


Eastern Europe

Evert van Vlastuin, CNE.news

The last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev died on Tuesday evening. Photo AFP, Pascal Guyot

The late Michael Gorbachev was in his time compared with the Persian king Cyrus. Exactly like Cyrus, he liberated the people of God.

This comparison is drawn by the Dutch theologian and historian Cock Blenk. As a history teacher born in 1940, he felt very near the world events during the Cold War. Later, as a Reformed pastor, he preached that God is in the lead in history and that the Western church had to find ways to support the church behind the Iron Curtain. Blenk himself visited believers there several times and kept in contact.

In 2009, twenty years after the Fall of the Wall, he said in an interview: “There was an anti-Christian ideology (in the Communist world, ed.), and the government had to fight against that. The Wende took me completely by surprise.”

During the 80s, Mr Blenk was a pastor in Amsterdam. During those years, he visited lectures by Gorbachev in the Dutch capital. “Were glasnost and perestroika real reforms or not? Gorbachev argued in a book that a divided Europe was out of time. I was, of course, at the front of the crowded room.”

Engaging worldly kings

After the Fall of the Wall, he spoke in Germany in a Christian meeting about Gorbachev as the Persian king Cyrus. He released the Jews from exile. “God can engage worldly kings. Think of Emperor Augustus.”

The Soviet leader released both Jews and Christians. “The fate of the Jews was also at stake with Gorbachev. They went to Israel en masse. And the church, which we had followed in its affliction, was released. That is a Biblical structure.”

The Rev. Cock Blenk. Photo Gerhard van Roon

Mr Blenk was questioned several times about whether this comparison was not a mixture of the history of salvation with world history. Indeed, he said a “fundamental difference” between these two. But sometimes, elements of salvation history appear in church history. The celebration of the Passover, for instance, has a spiritual meaning, pointing to the death of Christ, but also a political aspect because of the liberation from Egypt.

“In this way, we may interpret church and world history theologically. Wherever liberation occurs –especially around Israel and the church– God’s hand is present. God dispels tyranny.

Cyrus also liberated other peoples, and Gorbachev released other groups. Cyrus was not a believing Jew, nor was Gorbachev a professing Christian. Even though a Christian influence can be suspected behind him.”



Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.