Isaiah is prophesying about the final demise of Israel as a warning to Judah.
Woe to the Baddies: Verses 1-4
Isaiah is repeating who it is that is bringing this judgement: bad law makers and unjust judges who go against the poor- robbing them of justice and of their rights. Stealing from the orphans and widows.
He asks these unjust people what they will do when the day of judgement comes. Where will they hide? And where will they leave their wealth? He states that they will either crouch with the captives or fall among the slain.
And still...His anger does not turn away and His hand is still stretched out (a repeated refrain from Chapter 9).
Your sins against your neighbor may make you rich; but won't protect you from judgement. And even before judgement day, no amount of money can protect you from death. I know it's a cliche', but you cannot take it with you. Stacking up judgement for a treasure that you can't keep and that will likely spoil your children...is a misspent life- to say the least.
That's a great shot of schadenfreude to think on this misfortune of the rich corrupt baddies; but as always, I encourage you to examine you heart for smaller stains of the same disease. Do any of your sins affect other negatively? Your spouse? You kids? Your employer? A business? Maybe you don't gleefully steal candy from orphans; but as we were commanded to "love our neighbor as ourselves", it's worth checking our hearts to be sure we aren't guilty of the same thing these wretches were.
And the bad news is, we probably are. We are sinful and selfish by nature. And sins make the sin list, not to steal our fun; but because they cause some harm.
I'm not trying to tell you that you are corrupt like Israel was. I just think we gloss over the baddies- because we know we're not that bad. But not that bad isn't God's standard. It always worth examining our heart.
On a separate note, I think the commentaries and the bible formatting attach this section to Chapter 9, as part of the previous prophesy. It makes you wonder why the chapter break is where it is then. But that part is from men who had to make decisions with imperfect information. I see that the "outstretched hand" refrain tied it to Chapter 9; but the "woe to" repeated intro starts a pattern that connects it forward.
Woe to Assyria: Verse 5-19
The next prophesy from God through Isaiah is very interesting. Preemptively, He addresses the "rod" and "staff" that He will be using to bring Israel low.
Even though The Lord has come to the place of judgement for the northern kingdoms of His people and decided to use Assyria as the instrument of that judgement, He makes it clear that Assyria's intentions are godly in any way. He states that their intention in destruction. "To cut off many nations".
He goes on to explain, from the perspective of the Assyrian leaders, that all the nations are the same, including Samaria and Judah. The Assyrian voice proclaims that once he is done smashing Samarian idols, he'll go on to take Jerusalem and Judah. Maybe that refers to the false idols; but I think it actually means that they don't believe in God and they think the God and Temple and artifacts of God are equal to that of any of the false gods they have overcome in the other nations being crushed in their path.
God puts an end to that nonsense in verse 12:
So it will be when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and Jerusalem, He will say, 'I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.'Isaiah 10:12
There are a couple of interesting thing in there to contemplate.
- The bone chilling promise of the Lord planning to "punish".
- The Lord's focus on His work on Mount Zion and Jerusalem. These are both places in Judah. The Assyrians are coming for Israel. If I remember correctly, they take a shot at Judah and do plenty of damage; but they can't take the mountain city protected by God. To me, and I think this is largely true throughout the book of Isaiah, Israel is now officially irrelevant- except as whatever example it can serve to turn hearts to God in Judah. God's judgement is irrevocable to Israel. He's looking past them and onto trying to turn the same tide in Judah.
- The last item that leaves my contemplating is God's promise to punish the fruit of the king. To me, that means those who come after, but who have been shaped by the haughty king.
Verses 13-14 goes on to show the haughtiness of the king, as he takes sole credit for breaking through defenses, taking plunder, conquering the people, and stealing the "abandoned eggs of a nest" without a peep of protest.
God responds to this blind and delusional boasting by asking if the axe should boast over the one swinging it? Or a saw, or a club, or a rod. The instrument isn't the one to boast. It is nothing apart from the One Who uses it. Assyria is just a tool. It reminds me of Jeroboam I. He had all of the promises from God that Solomon's line had; if he could have just submitted to God's will; but he wanted a kingdom all it's own. Separate from God. And that's what he received. It took awhile, but did not end well.
Back to Assyria and the king bragging for himself about God's outcomes. Isaiah prophesies that a disease will waste away the stout warriors and the king's glory will go up in flames. He paints a graphic metaphor of the Fire of the Holy One burning up the thorns and briars in a single day (soldiers?) And then burning up the glory of the forest, fruitful garden, and the body an soul (yikes). "It will be as when a sick man wastes way." (verse 16-19)
He finishes by promising that so few "trees" (leaders?) would be left in the forest that a child could count them.
What a picture. So many graphic images to contemplate.
A footnote in my Ryrie Study Bible notes that Assyria fell between the fall of Nineveh (its capital) in 612 BC and the Battle of Carchemis in 605.
Judah had this promise in advance. If only we could grab hold of the promises of the Lord- we would make much better decisions.
The topic drastically shifts in verse 20 to the remnant of Israel. As always, when God proclaims judgement, He follows with hope, for His Name's sake.
Now it will come about in that day that the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.Isaiah 10:20
The Lord in that passage is Jehovah.
Holy One is qados.
I am assuming that this is referring, in specific, to Judah trusting in Assyria when Ahaz turned down God offer of victory and assistance in lieu of becoming a vassal state to Assyria in return for short term protection.
Having said that, I think it applies to all of us who have trusted in the "him"of this world, the enemy of our heart, instead of having faith in Jesus and God's plan. We wouldn't want to think of it in those terms, but neither did Ahaz--who was absolutely making a deal with the devil. When we try to use this world on our own terms, instead of faith in the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, we're guaranteed the same results.
Don't get me wrong, creation is a blessing and there are many answers found there; but all good things come from God and we should never exchange the creator for his creation. Medicine is miraculous. Friends and family are amazing blessings. An education or skill or talent is powerful. Food and wine and other things that make us feel good are good. But all of that is only true in light of a relationship with the maker of all things, who gives us good gifts.
And for the love of all that is holy, if the Lord promises you a victory; do not sell out the family treasure to try and buy victory from the Assyrian horde.
Isaiah had named his sons as prophesies; and one was named remnant (Isaiah 7:3) And now he states clearly that, even though a complete destruction was warranted, by God's grace and faithfulness to His Covenant, a remnant would be saved and return to the remnant of Jacob and to God.
Beyond that remnant, verse 23 declares that the Lord god of Hosts will execute complete destruction in the land (Israel).
In neighboring Judah (Zion), in verses 24-25 the Lord God of Hosts assures the people of Jerusalem not to fear the Assyrians because even though the Assyrians will strike like an Egyptian slave driver, soon Jehovah Sabaoth's anger for His people will be spent and He would turn His anger toward Assyria's destruction.
In verse 26 Isaiah presents two historical references to emphasize how thorough the defeat of Assyria will be and, I think, to remind them that He deserved their faith based on how He had saved them in the past.
- The first reference is to when Gideon led the battle against the Midianites and how they chased down the leaders of the enemy and took their heads.
- Second, is Moses staff being he;d high while the Hebrews escaped through the parted Red Sea, only to have the water rush in and kill the Egyptians when Moses lowered his staff.
In both scenarios, the Hebrew military presence was small or non-existent, but a supernatural intervention from God won the day dramatically.
Verse 27 states that the yoke of Assyrian will be broken that day, with the Lord's intervention. Also, the yoke broke because of "fatness". That didn't make sense to me. Was God saying that the yoke was designed poorly and broke under its own weight?
So I looked it up in Blue Letter Bible (BLB) and the NKJV translates "fatness" into "anointing oil". The King Jame Version translates as just "anointing". (I generally do my daily reading out of the NASB.) Now I am thoroughly confused.
So I dig in to the BLB, and find the Greek word, semen. It does mean both fatness and oil, particularly oil for anointing.
Taken together, I think verse 27 is emphasizing that the terrible yoke of Assyria will be broken and it will be solely because of God's anointing. No one else will be able to take credit.
Just as a brief aside, this is why it is so essential for each of us to dig into the Word on our own and compare translations, read commentaries, follow cross-references. Study your Bible.
We have three tools for growing in our relationship with the Lord: The Holy Spirit; Prayer; and His Holy Word. The more you know the Word and what every word is there for, the more you will know the Lord and what He has in His relationship with you.
I was examining James 5 with some friends and we got to verse 15 that talks about prayer when someone is sick. My friend was concerned because it reads like you should be able to pray someone back to health. I didn't think that was what was being said. And then I said, "It doesn't promise to heal." and he said, "Yes, it does." So we read our versions aloud and sure enough, his translation promised healing for the sick with fervent prayer. (NIV)
So I spent a little time looking at various translations and the Greek. There are multiple meanings for the word, sozo. Most literal translations chose to translate it with a spiritual connotation, such as saved, restored, or similar words for eventually being made whole. This makes sense in content because the verse goes on to explain that we will be "raised"-eventually made whole.
So what? who cares, right? tomAto..tamahto...it's just a minor variation, right?
Not to me. It's a really big deal. And here's why. I was a part of the hospital ministry for a while and I was sent to the room of a women who had been a serious athlete her whole life and now, no more than 45 years old, she is laying in an assisted living room with almost no muscle control from a degenerative disease. When I arrived the first 10 minutes was just me getting her things an slightly adjusting her body this way and that to try and help her feel comfortable. She was watching a prosperity gospel preacher on the TV who was making her promises that came with price tag.
I asked her if we could pray and if I could read to her from the Bible. So chose James 1: 5-8 in which God admonishes us to ask for wisdom in faith, and not amiss, and we will receive it. She took this to mean that she hadn't been healed yet because she wasn't displaying enough faith. But if she could just get her prayer right, healing was hers- promised by God.
I wanted to smash her TV and thought very bad things about the charlatan preacher filling her head with worldly and false hope instead of the actual meaning of God's words.
No one who has every studied James for more than 5 minutes thinks that his message is a unicorn in every stable and puppies all around. He's not promising guaranteed healing to all who pray just right. How do I know. James is dead. As is ever first century Christian and every other Century up until ours. There should be hordes of immortal Christians wondering around because God kept healing them.
It doesn't work like that. Every man experiences one death (rapture excluded.)
Here's my point. If your translation says something that seems to be contrary to the rest of the Bible or contrary to the obvious and undeniable world around us...dig in. Do some research. Compare translations. Find out what others have said about it. But come to your own conclusions.
And if your translation regularly seems to be getting it wrong and leading you and others to false beliefs...GET. A. NEW. TRANSLATION. It really does matter. You notice I didn't recommend a specific translation. Because there are a lot of good ones and sometime it takes comparing a few good ones to sort out a tough verse. But thee are some that regularly translate in a way that seems to make some verses contrary to the rest of the Word.
Assyria Marches on Jerusalem
Starting in verse 28 is a description of Assyria march final approach on Jerusalem. The Ryrie footnote states that all locations mentioned in the next few verses are within a 3 hour march of Jerusalem. So the human monsters who devoured Israel are within a few hours of God's Holy City of David.
Assyria is described as a man. He drops his baggage in one location and plans to "lodge" in another. Judah's people are terrified and many ahead of the horde.
The the "man", Assyria, stops and shakes his first at Jerusalem.
But everything changes in verse 33-34.
Assyria's march is done.
The Lord, the God of Hosts cuts through the trees lopping them off in a terrible crash- taking with them the heads of all of the tall men of Assyria.
- The lofty will be debased
- He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron axe.
- Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One.
Things change again in the continuing verses, but they are in the next chapter, so we'll break here and circle around to read the commentaries and references.
God is a good, good Father.
He shows the way in His word and law; in His Word-through His Son; By His Holy Spirit; and in His willingness to hear our prayers.
But if this isn't enough, he will teach and coach.
And finally, judgement.
But even in judgement, always with hope for the remnant.
And for any unbeliever He uses during the teaching, coaching, chastening, punishing, and even in judgement, woe to them if they exceed what is given to them or if they take credit for it. Woe to them.