The exile did many things to develop Israel’s faith. Apart from anything else, they learned that the LORD is bigger than they thought, and so are his loving purposes.
Here we read of a surprising one anointed by the LORD – Cyrus, the pagan king of Persia. A quite enlightened ruler, by modern standards and compared to those before him, Cyrus would restore much freedom to Israel, and back them in rebuilding their land and faith – as he would for the other displaced peoples of the previous empires he conquered.
Cyrus didn’t become a Jew, or a worshipper of the LORD. But as a man of goodwill and power, he became the instrument of a God he didn’t really know. God is still capable of working through people outside the faith as well as through the church. We sometimes narrow his scope more than he does!
Again, there’s a reminder that God will act mainly out of faithfulness to his promises. And should anyone confuse him with their idols, he makes it clear that his actions were promised long before the craftsman did his work to create the Isle in the first place.
How are we finding out place in the sweep of God’s story? He has not forgotten his promises of freedom, even if we have.