Israel establishes its nationhood through the exodus event - the people are liberated from slavery from a tyrant Pharaoh who oppressed them mercilessly. The first part of Exodus documents the hardness of Pharoah's heart, heightening the sense of glorious victory brought about by God on behalf of the people. In many ways it is straightforward good vs evil stuff, with God winning through against the ungodly ruler. It makes for clear imagery:
- Israel - on God's side = good
- Pharaoh - non-Israelite who sets himself up as god = bad
Now figure the events of 2 Chronicles 36 (and Ezra/Nehemiah). There is hope, there is restoration brought about by God for His people. As in the previous post Israel as a people can resume with God's presence. The oppression by the nasty Babylonians/Persians will subside.
Yet notice that this time God works through and with non-Israelite ruler Cyrus. Now our simple categories above no longer work. God works through those on the outside. Aren't they supposed to be the baddies, pure and simple?
There is even acknowledgement by Cyrus that God is God! In other words that original global mission purpose which underlies the whole Israelite project seems to have yielded some fruit - indeed surprisingly good fruit that seeds new life back into the Israelites themselves.
If one just stuck with the simple categories above, this would not be possible. But God's ways are greater than that.