Arrogant Assyria is Judged

As the flames roared on toward them, a little girl cried out in terror, “Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?” The leader replied, “My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!” What a picture of the beli … More

Judgment

Isaiah pronounced woe on the people (vv. 1-4). Israel’s leaders were guilty of six things: They were (a) making unjust laws, (b) issuing oppressive decrees, (c) depriving the poor of their rights, (d) taking away justice, (e) hurting widows, and (f) robbing the fatherless. These actions, involved taking advantage of people who could not defend their rights. God had commissioned Assyria to chasten Israel. God often uses unlikely instruments to accomplish His purposes. Isaiah was not claiming that Assyria was godly or that the empire even knew that God was using it to do His bidding. In His sovereignty He directed Assyria to be His tool for vengeance (vv. 5-6).

Though Assyria was a tool in God’s hands God was not pleased with her (vv. 7-11). She had the wrong attitude in conquering Israel. Discounting the greatness of Israel’s God, Assyria assumed that Jerusalem was like any other city she had conquered and could take it easily. Since these other conquered cities had greater gods, in the minds of the Assyrians, Jerusalem could be taken more easily. Though God was using Assyria, her motives were purely political and expansionist.

After using Assyria to punish Jerusalem, God would then punish Assyria because of the king’s willful pride evidenced by his haughty spirit. The words of the Assyrian king express the empire’s haughty pride (vv. 12-14). The king felt that what had been achieved had been done by his strength and wisdom (six times he said I and three times my). Because of Assyria’s pride, the Lord said He would judge the king of Assyria and his empire (vv. 15-19). The Lord said He would destroy the Assyrian army by disease and fire. The Assyrian Empire fell to Babylon.

Application

Lord, help me to never think I can conquer battles in my own strength but rely on You.

Isaiah 10:1-19 (English Standard Version)

Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the ruin that will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth? Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still. Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; for he says: "Are not my commanders all kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?" When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped." Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! Therefore the Lord GOD of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.

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