A key element to this strategy was to liberate a significant segment of the defeated enemy’s workforce and to have that workforce extract additional economic assets with it.
That was the strategy: using socioeconomic and political methods to cement military victory.
In the end, it turned out to be just one part of a much larger strategy: Salvation History – for these geopolitical machinations led to the end of the Babylonian Exile and to the return of God’s People to the Promised Land, as we hear in today’s first reading (Ez. 1:1-6).
Cyrus, the King of Persia and victor over ancient Babylon, had his own reasons for restoring the remnant of God’s People to Jerusalem, but ultimately this mighty king was a pawn in the hand of God, even when he did not realize it, as the prophet Isaiah elsewhere makes clear:
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
Subduing nations before him,
and making kings run in his service,
Opening doors before him
and leaving the gates unbarred....
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
giving you a title,
though you knew me not.
I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you,
though you know me not...
Likewise in our own day, many things take place in our world and in our lives: some good, some bad; for obvious reasons and for reasons unknown; things that seem minor and passing as well as events that are truly epic (interestingly, today’s reading about the return of exiles to Jerusalem occurs on the day the first hundred thousand people were to start returning to the hurricane-devastated city of New Orleans).
Good or bad, obvious or inexplicable, minor or earth shattering, the lesson of Scripture is clear:
We know that all things work for good
for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
Even when we don’t know it,
God has a strategy already at work
for our salvation
through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.