In our study of Isaiah chapter ten, we look at God's judgment on those that have been put into position to lead the people. We will look at the responsibility of judges and what happens when they get proud and remove the precepts of God from their thinking and rulings.
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees,
God is talking about national leaders here as He condemns those that are unjust. He is talking about those who have become corrupt and are no longer representing God as they should.
to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.
We see here what the leaders have done and they have basically turned their backs on those that need them the most. They have traded justice for greed. These words are even more relevant today as it seems that this type of leader is all that you ever see or hear about. It is like the leaders of today have a great big club and it is made up of themselves and the very richest of the rich.
What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your riches?
Isaiah asks three very important questions here to remind them and us that what they have is only temporary. The judges (leaders) will be judged at the proper time and, no matter how rich they are, they will all answer to God Almighty for what they have done. Their rich friends will not be able to save them from this judgment either.
Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives or fall among the slain. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.
When they see that the money and powerful friends are no longer there, all that the corrupt leaders will be able to do is humble themselves or die. God is calling the leaders to turn back to Him and His ways and, if they do (repent), He is just and will forgive them.
'Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!'
The "Assyrian" here is Sennacherib who was used by God to humble the people of Israel. The rod and the staff (club) were tools use by shepherds to guide and correct their sheep and this verse speaks to the fact that God was trying to get His people to see the error of their ways. The same is true for us as children of God in that the Holy Spirit guides and corrects us as needed to keep us in line with the will of God.
'I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.'
God tells us exactly what He sent the Assyrians to do and it was simply to conquer the people of Israel. God did this to bring the people to repentance so that they might be saved. We all, at some point in our walk with the Lord, ask the question "Why is this happening to me?". The answer may simply be that God wants to humble us so that we depend on Him more and trust in Him more. This can be true for us individually as well as together as a church or nation. A person or nation that has wandered a little too far from God's will for them can expect God to do a work like this in hopes of turning them back to Him. That is the loving correction of our Father in heaven.
But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations.
The Assyrians were not interested in what God would have them do but were only looking to extend their territory and glory. Sometimes, we can be like the Assyrians in that we want to do the will of God but we want to do it our way.
'Are not my commanders all kings?' he says. 'Has not Calno fared like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad, and Samaria like Damascus?'
God shows us here the condition of the heart of the Assyrian leader and it is full of pride. He boasts of all of the lands that he has conquered and intends to do the same to the land of Judah. This is another reminder to us that God desires a humble heart and that pride is not of God. It was pride that caused the devil to want to replace God and be thrown out of heaven. It is this same sinful pride in the hearts of some leaders today that will lead to judgment just as it is here for the Assyrian. Even some Christian leaders take so much pride in their words that they try to replace the Word of God with their own. You can listen to them preach and they share all kinds of their own words and ideas yet share little if any of the Word from the Bible. This is what the apostle Peter was talking about (2 Peter 2) and this will be judged as we see in Revelation chapter twenty.
'As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols, kingdoms whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria - shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images as I dealt with Samaria and her idols?'
Sennacherib boasted in his heart of all that he had accomplished and intended to do the same thing to Jerusalem. He brags about the kingdoms that were stronger than Judah yet he conquered them.
When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, 'I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.'
Here, God lets the Assyrians know that their time to answer for their pride is coming but first He will use them for His purpose with Israel. The charge against them is specific as God says that it is their pride that will bring judgment. It is the same with many who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior in that their pride will not allow them to acknowledge the fact that they are morally bankrupt and require rescue. We need to remind ourselves and them that pride always leads to judgment.
For he says: 'By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings. As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.'
The words of the king are remembered and used as evidence against him. We see from his own words that he does not acknowledge the hand of God in the affairs of his nation. He has set up himself and his nation to be all powerful but the fact of the matter is that God is going to show them what real power is. The same could be said today of many countries in the world. With our huge military budgets and national pride, we have forgotten that it is God that is over all and it is Him working in and through us that brings greatness. We will toss the Word of God out of our institutions such as schools and courts and then expect God to continue to bless us. My friends, we need to take to heart what God is saying to the king of Assyria.
Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it? As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood!
God asks questions of the people to get them to see how ridiculous it is for men to be proud and not give God the credit for the things He has done. We recognize the examples of tools in this verse and realize that they are nothing without the one who powers them. God is reminding them and us that we, too, are nothing and can do nothing without Him and His power.
Therefore, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors; under his pomp a fire will be kindled like a blazing flame.
Because of the pride of their leader, the Assyrian soldiers were to get a disease that would take away their ability to fight. The king may have trained up the armies but he will be reminded that God is in control. This is a good reminder for us in that we cannot get caught up in pride over things that we have done but instead we must always give God the credit for being the power in us to do anything.
The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame; in a single day it will burn and consume his thorns and his briers. The splendor of his forests and fertile fields it will completely destroy, as when a sick man wastes away. And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few that a child could write them down.
Throughout the Bible fire is a symbol of refining (purifying) things and here we see that the fire of the Lord will cleanse the land of the Assyrians. We see from the references "Light of Israel" and "Holy One" that this judgment will be by the only one that is qualified to judge and that is Jesus Christ. This day is very similar to the judgment described in Revelation.
In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous.
God's correction will be heeded by some of the Israelites. They will repent and turn back to their Provider. Throughout the Bible, the number four is associated with trials and testing and here the word "remnant" is repeated four times. This tells of the fact that through this massive trial (the exile of God's people to Assyria) only a portion of the people will come to their senses. For those that do not, their relationship with their Creator is destroyed in the judgment. The same is true for us today as God has called us to turn from our ways to His ways (repent) and those that do not will be judged. This same type of correction is also what is coming in the future as described in Revelation 6 and we see that the leaders of the earth will know that it is God who is really in charge.
The Lord, the Lord Almighty, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land.
After the remnant has repented, then God will turn to judging those that are not His people. In this judgment, everyone will see that it is God who is in control. The destruction must occur so that a strong foundation can be laid for rebuilding.
Therefore, this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says: 'O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.'
God reminds His people of how they were delivered from Egypt. Just as they were beaten and made slaves in Egypt, the Assyrians have done the same to them. Just as God delivered them at that time, He will do so again. This is also a reminder for us that we do not need to fear anything or anyone of this world as fear (other than the fear of God) is not of God.
'Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.'
God encourages His people with the fact that He is forgiving and, if they turn back to Him, He will once again be on their side. When that relationship is restored, God will turn against those that have come against His people. That is the same God that we serve today and we can be sure that He is on our side and will handle those who mean us harm.
The Lord Almighty will lash them with a whip, as when he struck down Midian at the rock of Oreb; and he will raise his staff over the waters, as he did in Egypt.
God reminds His people of two times in the past that He had delivered them from their enemy. This verse demonstrates the importance of sharing with others what God has done and is doing in our lives. By sharing, we can be used to remind others that God is there for them and that He will deliver them just as He has done for us in the past. You can share a testimony with us and we will publish it to encourage others.
In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat.
God's encouragement to His people is that, if they humble themselves and repent, He will rescue them from their enemies. The yoke of slavery will be broken because God will cause His people to prosper. This is a picture of what happened with the people of this time but it is also the same for us. If we turn to Him (repent), God will break the yoke of slavery to sin once and for all. Whatever we are dealing with, God can give us the power to overcome.
'They enter Aiath; they pass through Migron; they store supplies at Micmash. They go over the pass, and say, "We will camp overnight at Geba." Ramah trembles; Gibeah of Saul flees. Cry out, O Daughter of Gallim! Listen, O Laishah! Poor Anathoth! Madmenah is in flight; the people of Gebim take cover.'
This passage describes the march of the Assyrians through the land towards Jerusalem. They are spreading fear throughout the land but God is still in control and waiting for His people to cry out to Him for help. God is faithful and, if we cry out to Him, He will answer and take care of His children.
'This day they will halt at Nob; they will shake their fist at the mount of the Daughter of Zion, at the hill of Jerusalem.'
Isaiah assures the people that the Assyrians will not take Jerusalem and in fact their march was stopped. This is similar to what is coming in the future as described by John in Revelation 19 & 20. Today, there is much debate about a Mideast peace plan and the ownership of the city of Jerusalem. The fact of the matter is that God has chosen Jerusalem as His city and it cannot be changed.
See, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One.
At this point in time, Lebanon was known for its great forests of cedar trees. Isaiah tells them that judgment is coming and that even the great trees will be cut down.