Isaiah: The LORD’s Instruments.

5 “Woe to 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? 10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?” (Isaiah 10:5-11)

There are occasions within the Scriptures in which the LORD uses the ungodly, individuals and nations, to accomplish His will. For example, the LORD used the evil of Joseph’s ten older brothers who sold him into slavery to eventually, some 20 years later, save many lives (Genesis 50:20). The LORD used the betrayal of Judas (Psalm 41:9; 6:64; 13:1-11; 18-20; 23-30) to fulfill Scripture and accomplish salvation through the substitutionary atonement by Jesus Christ. The LORD also used the Kingdom of Babylon to bring His righteous judgment upon the Nation of Judah (2 Chronicles 36:17-21; Daniel 1; Habakkuk 1-3), and thereafter the Nation of Persia against the Kingdom of Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Isaiah 45:1-7).

Therefore, it should not take the student of Scripture by surprise that repeatedly the Prophet Isaiah has spoken of God using ungodly nations to punish the ungodliness of the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century B.C.  Isaiah 10:5-11, immediately following the prophet’s poem in Isaiah 9:8-10:4, describes the Nation of Assyria.

5 “Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!” The Hebrew word for “woe” can mean “aha,” “alas,” or even “come.” The Assyrians were also known as the people of Asshur. They were located in the northern portion of present day Iraq.

Assyria was a powerful nation in the 8th century B.C. The LORD referred to them as the “rod of my anger.” Rod means a scepter or staff used for smiting. Anger is literally defined as snorting breathing. It symbolizes God’s wrath. Using synonymous parallelism, the LORD also calls them “the staff in their hand is my fury.” The rod or tribes in their possession is the LORD’s anger and indignation.

6 “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.” Isaiah 10:6 clearly indicates that Assyria is God’s instrument to bring about his righteous judgment against Israel.

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?” Isaiah 10:7-9 reveals that human ruler have their own reasons for doing what they do. They may not even recognize the LORD who is using them as His instruments. However, they end up doing exactly what the LORD purposed them to do (Ezekiel 38:10).

10 “As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?” Isaiah 10:10-11 explains that the judgment God brought upon 8th century B.C. Israel He will eventually bring upon 7th century B.C. Judah.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “God had commissioned Assyria to chasten Israel as the rod of His anger and the club of His wrath. Because Israel was godless and had angered God with her sin, Assyria would plunder her cities and ruthlessly trample her people. God often uses unlikely instruments to accomplish His purposes in the world (cf. His using Babylon against Judah, which puzzled Habakkuk, Hab. 1:6–17). 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.”

What was true in the 8th century B.C. remains true in the 21st century A.D. The LORD may use the ungodly, and ungodliness, to accomplish His purposes and to do His bidding. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” All things may not necessarily be good, but God causes all things, both good and bad, to work together for good and for His purpose. This promise of good is directed to those who love God, which are those who are the called.

Let us thank God for the good He causes through all things.

Soli deo Gloria!   

 

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