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Monday, September 15, 2014

Isaiah 10 (Part 2 of 2): Condemnation of Arrogance

Isaiah 10 (Part 2 of 2): Condemnation of Arrogance

=== Main Idea #2 ===

God furiously condemned Assyria's arrogance.

The king of Assyria did not in the least consider God to be his commander. He took to himself the glory and fame of conquest and control.

Isaiah 10:12 (ESV) 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.

Assyria was a tool in the hands of God, a tool of judgement and punishment against Israel's idolatry and wickedness. God moved the leaders of Assyria against Israel, "to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets."

But Assyria went beyond God's intent. Not content with seizing property and commanding tribute, Assyria sought to destroy all of Israel, boasting of his power.

Isaiah 10:8-11, 13-14 (ESV) 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?...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."

In consequence, the Lord would allow Assyria's rampage to harm Israel, but not destroy her. And then the Lord would punish Assyria.

Isaiah 10:15-16, 18 (ESV) 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 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.

Isaiah 10:25 (ESV) In a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction.

God allowed the Assyrian army to invade Israel's land, marching in a line from the northern towns of Aiath and Migron, to the southern city of Michmash, nine miles from Jerusalem. The "pass" meant a crossing place, through a river or mountain. Most likely it refered to the defile (a steep-sided, narrow gorge) at Michmash at which the army would have been vulnerable to attack if Israel had mounted even a half-hearted defense.

Ramah and Gibeah were towns within seven miles of Jerusalem and the Assyrians found the people fleeing in fear.

Gallim, Laishah and Anathoth were within three miles of Jerusalem. Madmenah and Gebim were two days march from Jerusalem.

One day's march from Jerusalem, within sight of the capital of Israel, the Assyrian king and his army halted at Nob, "shaking his fist". God's fury brought a sudden, terrifying end to the Assyrian's march of arrogance:

Isaiah 10:33-34 (ESV) Behold, the Lord GOD of hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.

Isaiah 10:26-27 (ESV) The LORD of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck.

The proud army of the King of Assyria was compared by the LORD to trees of a forest in Lebanon, and the slavemasters of Egypt.

In a single day the arrogant forest was decimated and the cruel slavemasters destroyed.

Israel was wicked, and God used the animosity and greed of other nations to punish Israel for their sin. But if those other nations become drunk with the power given them, if the punishers of wickedness themselves refuse to respect and revere the Almighty Sovereign God Who created them, they will suffer an even harsher judgement.

Only a remnant of the people of Israel would survive the LORD's wrath against their godlessness.

Isaiah 10:22 (ESV) For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness.

At first glance it seems odd to consider the word "remnant" as being derived from a word meaning to be redundant. But "remnant" is often used in the Bible as we use the word "rest", to describe something additional, something added to another group.

1 Chronicles 11:8 (ESV) And he built the city all around from the Millo in complete circuit, and Joab repaired the rest of the city.

Ezra 4:7 (ESV) In the days of Artaxerxes, Bishlam and Mithredath and Tabeel and the rest of their associates wrote to Artaxerxes king of Persia. The letter was written in Aramaic and translated.

God had pronounced woe to the people of Israel, the iniquitous, godless ones who had abandoned faith in God in favor of serving foreign nations and their gods. Most of Israel would die in their idolatrous unbelief. But there was another group of people who were part of Israel, the "rest" of the people who would forsake their idolatry.

Isaiah 10:20-21 (ESV) In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.

"Lean" can describe a person sitting back against a tree, resting in the shade (Genesis 18:4). A blind man supported himself by leaning on the pillars of a house (Numbers 21:15). An elder king leaned upon the arm of a trusted aide when walking (2 Kings 5:18).

In the early days of Israel's civil war, Judah leaned upon God for support in their war with the northern state:

2 Chronicles 13:18 (ESV) The men of Israel were subdued at that time, and the men of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers.

Faced with an overwhelming invasion from Ethiopia, Asa King of Judah cried aloud his prayer of leaning upon God:

2 Chronicles 14:11 (ESV) And Asa cried to the LORD his God, "O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you."

Now, however, in Isaiah's time, Israel had been faithlessly leaning upon "him who had struck them". The northern state, Israel, had joined with Syria in a bid to overrun the southern state, Judah (Isaiah 7:1). Judah attempted to join with Assyria to defend herself from Israel and Syria (2 Kings 16:5). Assyria took advantage of Israel's civil war and struck fast, intending to capture all of Israel, both northern and southern states, from Samaria to Jerusalem:

Isaiah 10:7-11 (ESV) 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?"

However, in "that day", the day of God's intervention and judgement of wickedness, there will be a part, a remnant of Israel who will survive the war and return in faith to the LORD as their support.

What do you think?

photo credit: Keith1999 via photopin cc