The Enemy Becomes the Enemy

Isaiah 10 SCC 4/14/13



            Do not get upset with the global scene. That is easy to do especially since society is consumed with the international landscape. Every generation has seen nations rise and nations fall. We have been eyewitnesses to the international drama that has unfolded just in the past fifty years. God is in charge of all of it. His providence over the nations is clearly displayed by Isaiah.



Woe to Unjust People: The oppression of the helpless 10:1-4

Verse 1-2: The corrupt leaders in Israel were using their positions to deprive the needy of their rights and to obtain what the poor had for themselves. Things are so upside down that the very ones the Lord commands to protect have become the spoil and plunder! So Isaiah pronounced a ‘woe’ upon them. They were guilty of six things: a. Making unjust laws. B. Issuing oppressive decrees. C. Depriving the poor. D. Taking away justice. E. Hurting widows. F. Robbing the fatherless.

PT: These actions involved taking advantage of people who could not defend themselves.

Verse 3-4: A series of questions spells out the fate of these exploiters! When God brought Ephraim (Israel) into judgment she would have nowhere to hide and no one to protect her. Then she would be the needy without defense or recourse. They had more reason to fear God than she had to fear Assyria. The Lord would discipline her because of her pride, corrupt leadership, selfishness, and oppression of her vulnerable citizens. She would not suffer defeat because of military inferiority but for moral inadequacy.

‘Day of punishment’ and ‘devastation from afar’ and his hand is still stretched out’ is the outcome.



Assyria’s fall: The destruction of the destroyer 10:5-19

            The victory of the Assyrians did not prove the superiority of her gods nor did Judah’s defeat mean that the Lord was inferior. The whole passage contrasts sovereignties: Assyria’s and God’s. God uses evil to do His biding! However, evil reaps the consequences of her acts.


1. The instrument of destruction 10:5-11 Assyria fulfilling God’s will

Verse 5-6: Assyria was simply an unwitting tool in the Lord’s hand that He would use to accomplish His purposes. Assyria was like a rod in God’s hand; He controlled her actions. He would send her to discipline godless Judah against whom God’s fury burned, “to capture booty and to seize plunder”.

Verse 7: She planned to pursue her own selfish purposes and to destroy many nations to expand her own empire. She mistakenly thought she was sovereign especially after already destroying the cities in v 9 so she assumed she could take Jerusalem easily.

Verse 8-11: Assyria, in her unrealistic pride:

(1). Boasted, in the person of her king, that her princes were the equivalent of kings.

(2). She assumed that the cities of Judah were the same as the cities of other nations, namely, without the Lord’s special concern and protection.

(3). Mistakenly, she planned to do to Judah and Jerusalem just as she had done to other nations and their great cities. Actually, the idols represent nothing, only the false hopes and fears (superstitions) of fallen humanity realizing there is more to reality than the physical, but unable to comprehend spiritual truth.

NB: The prophet portrayed the Assyrian king as thinking, I took this one closer to me, so I can take that one farther from me.


2. The object of destruction 10:12-19 Assyria’s punishment

Verse 12: When God finished using Assyria as His rod to punish Mt. Zion and Jerusalem, He would punish Assyria too for her arrogance and haughtiness.

Verse 13-14: Here is proof from Assyria’s own mouth of their haughty pride. Assyria, again manifested arrogance and haughtiness by boasting that all her victories were the result of her own strength and intelligence. She felt, as many nations have, that she was superior and therefore had the right to determine the fates of inferiors. She had a right to steal from others who could not or would not defend themselves and to remove them to wherever she desired. No one was able to withstand her might.

Verse 15: The Lord responds to the boasts of the King of Assyria with questions implying that the instrument God uses is not above the one who uses it ‘axe to boast itself’ or ‘the saw to exalt itself’. It is illogical, the prophet pointed out, for the impersonal instrument of judgment to exalt itself over the person who wields it.

Verse 16: Because of Assyria’s pride, sovereign Lord of armies would defeat this mighty foe. Isaiah described her fall as resulting from a wasting disease and a consuming fire.

Verse 17-18: The Assyrians were jumping into a fire by invading Jerusalem. The fire would come from the light of Israel, namely, her holy God. This fire would consume the small and the great in Assyria, from the lowly thorns to the beautiful garden plants to the mighty trees of the forest.

Verse 19: The remaining trees (leaders) would be so few that a small child would be able to count them.

In 701 B.C. the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem and God slew 185,000 of them in one night (37:36-37).

Then in 609BC the Assyrian empire fell to Babylon at the battle of Carchemish along the Euphrates River along with Egypt.



The promise of restoration 10:20-27 the remnant of Israel

The focus of the prophecy shifts from Assyria to Israel:

Verse 20: In some future day, the remnant that escaped annihilation by the Assyrians would no longer trust in man for deliverance, as Ahaz and Judah did before the Assyrian takeover. They would learn this most important lesson and truly trust in the Lord, the holy one of Israel. Enough of foreign alliances!!!

Verse 21: A remnant would return to the genuinely mighty God. It would be a remnant of the whole house of Jacob, all the Israelites. The reference to the mighty God along with the sincere change of attitude in Israel, one that has not yet taken place, points to a time of fulfillment yet in distant future.

Verse 22-23: God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the sand of the sea (Gen. 22:17; 32:12). This did not mean, as the Israelites in Isaiah’s day apparently concluded, that they would always be a large people. No, God would so thoroughly destroy them because of their sin that only a small number would survive. The sovereign Lord of armies would destroy them throughout the whole Promised Land, not just in the Northern Kingdom. What happens will be destructive but just ‘a destruction is determined overflowing with justice’.

Verse 24-27: The Lord used reminders of two previous deliverances to encourage the residents of Jerusalem to believe that they would survive the attack of a stronger and larger foe. He had delivered their forefathers from Egypt and the Midianites, and He had destroyed the Egyptians and the Midianites (Judg. 7:25). The rock of Oreb got its name from the Midianite prince Oreb who escaped death in the battle with the Israelites but died when he fled. Similarly, Sennacherib did not perish with his army but died after he returned home. The Assyrian oppression would not last long and God would then discipline the disciplinarian of His people.


A description of Assyria’s attack and judgment 10:28-34 Assyria’s defeat

Verse 28-32: These geographical locations reveal that Assyria may have approached to within two miles of the city of Jerusalem. All along the way they captured and pillaged these cities.  

Verse 33-34: Assyria would not succeed in its plan to take Jerusalem. The imagery is the destruction of a forest, which symbolizes the Assyrian army and its leadership. Assyria will not escape this.


So What?

1. God does not take oppression and injustice lightly. He ever has an eye for the weak, the needy, the poor, and the defenseless. God is angry with this and will punish the guilty.

2. Every nation that has ever existed has done so by the will of God, even nations guilty of violent oppression and civil rights. Since God is sovereign he can use any nation to do his bidding. One aspect of God’s providence is his international operation. The Lord can use a righteous nation to overthrow a wicked one. He can use an evil nation to chastise a relatively better one. Is God still working internationally today raising up and overthrowing powers? Paul claims that God, made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation Acts 17:26.

3. God works regionally and globally. Ultimately his plan for the nations will culminate in the global government of His own Son. That is a promise God made with Abraham, ratified with Moses, and reiterated with David. Jesus will usher in this global rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.