The Book of Isaiah
ASSYRIA, THE ROD OF GOD’S ANGER
Text: ISAIAH 10:5-34
1. You will recall that wicked King Ahaz, the king of Judah, had sold himself as a vassal (a servant and subordinate) to the king of Assyria.
2. The king of Israel and the king of Syria had joined themselves against Judah. Syria and Israel had come up against the walls of Jerusalem, intending to raze them to the ground and utterly destroy the kingdom of Judah (cf. Isa. 7:1, 2).
3. King Ahaz was in great trouble, but rather than look to the Lord for help, he turned instead to the heathen king of Assyria.
4. The prophet Isaiah warned King Ahaz that Assyria would soon become Judah’s enemy, not their friend. The Assyrians would invade Judah and ravage the land, and this would be the judgment of God because of Ahaz’s unbelief (cf. Isa. 7:20).
5. Notice the words of Isaiah 7:20 – “In the same day shall the LORD shave with a razor that is hired…” This is one of the great themes of the Bible, and we see it again tonight (cf. Isa. 10:5, 6).
I. GOD USES HEATHEN NATIONS TO JUDGE HIS PEOPLE (10:5).
1. God said He would use Assyria to chasten His people Israel (10:5). The LORD is speaking here of Sennacherib, the Assyrian, whom God sent as a judgment upon “an hypocritical nation” (10:6).
2. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will.”
3. God says He will give him (Sennacherib) a charge” (10:6), i.e., a commission. This commission will be “to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (10:6).
4. This principle is taught all throughout the Word of God. In Jeremiah 34:22, God says, “Behold, I will command, saith the LORD, and cause them (the Babylonians) to return to this city; and they shall fight against it, and take it, and burn it with fire: and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without an inhabitant.”
5. The prophet Habakkuk wondered why God allowed the heathen nations to attack Israel (Hab. 1:1-4). The LORD told Habakkuk that He would send the Chaldeans, “that bitter and hasty nation” to punish backslidden Israel (Hab. 1:5-7).
II. THESE PROUD HEATHEN DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS GOD WHO IS USING THEM (ISA. 10:7).
1. We have here an interesting contrast between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. Sennacherib was merely a rod in God’s hand, but “he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so” (10:7).
2. Sennacherib was merely a rod in the hand of God to chastise Israel. When God was finished, He broke the rod in pieces and threw it away. Where is Assyria today? (Iraq) The Assyrians have been scattered and they have been assimilated into the various Muslim peoples of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria.
3. When the LORD had accomplished “His whole work upon Mount Zion and on Jerusalem” (10:12), He then dealt with the pride and arrogancy of the Assyrians (10:12b).
4. God used Assyria to chasten Israel, but the Assyrians prided themselves on what they considered to be their own achievements and their great military victories (Isa. 10:12-15; cf. Hab. 1:11b).
5. Verses 7-11 indicate Assyria’s pride, but also Israel and Judah’s idolatry (cf. 10:10, 11). God’s honor and Israel’s testimony were dishonored by Israel’s idolatry and backslidings.
6. Applying this to our situation today: God very well could be using the Muslim terrorists to punish backslidden and apostate America. Just as Assyria scornfully referred to Israel’s idolatry, the Muslims perceive America as a wicked, sin-loving country.
7. This is from Hugh Pyle in the Sword of the Lord, “A US News editorial well states that one reason the world views America with disdain is the skewered portrait of the country that’s projected by the entertainment industry. Decent people here in the US know that not all Americans hate foreigners and that we are not all as violent, immoral, perverted and gross as Hollywood paints us. America was highly esteemed and admired when we were thought of as truly a Christian nation and were not ashamed to say so. Today’s missionaries are suffering persecution and even martyrdom in other lands because of evil images projected by films, books, music, politicians, and even by false religions that first saturate our own society before we export them. A Reader’s Digest article on pornography concludes, ‘We’re neck-deep in slime and sinking fast!’ A spiritual revival would make a big difference!”
8. There is a new book out by a conservative (but apparently not saved) author named Dinesh D'Souza. It is called, The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. The title says it all. Mr. D’Souza believes that the secular liberals in Congress, the media, Hollywood, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.
9. It is Sennacherib and his fellow Assyrians who are speaking in Isaiah 10:11. They are scornfully describing their contempt for Israel and her idols. But this certainly sounds like Osama ben laden describing his contempt for the USA and our idols.
10. Because of their pride and their arrogance, God would judge Assyria (Isa. 10:15-19).
11. “The Gentile nations are permitted to afflict Israel in chastisement for her national sins, but invariably and inevitably retribution falls upon them. See: Genesis 15:13, 14” (Scofield Study Bible).
12. God’s judgment is likened to a raging forest fire (10:16-19). But this fire is not limited to trees; the entire Assyrian army would be destroyed – “both soul and body” (10:18).
13. The fulfillment of this prophecy is described in Isaiah 37:36-38.
III. THESE PROPHECIES LOOK BEYOND ISAIAH’S DAY TO THE END-TIMES (10:20).
1. The reference to “that day” (“the day of the LORD”) in Isaiah 10:20 seems to carry the prophecy over and beyond the historical invasion of Assyria to a future invasion during the coming tribulation.
2. In Romans 9:27, the apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 10:22, 23, and he applies these Scriptures to a future time when Israel, in the great tribulation, will be reduced in number to “a remnant.”
3. In Isaiah 9:6 the coming Messiah is referred to as “the mighty God.” Here in Isaiah 10:21, we are told the remnant shall return to “the mighty God.” Both these prophecies refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, “the Holy One of Israel” (10:20).
4. The Assyrian typifies the coming “king of the north” referred to by Daniel and Ezekiel (Dan. 11:40; Ezekiel 38:15, 16).
5. Many expositors think that “Gog and Magog” in Ezekiel 38 & 39 refer to Russia, and that Meshech (Ezekiel 38:2, 3) refers to Moscow.
6. The Scofield Bible says, “That the primary reference is to the northern (European) powers, headed up by Russia, all agree. The whole passage should be read in connection with Zechariah 12:1-4; 14:1-9; Matthew 24:14-30; Revelation 14:14-20; 19:17-21, “Gog” is the prince, “Magog,” his land. The reference to Meshech and Tubal (Moscow and Tobolsk) is a clear mark of identification. Russia and the northern powers have been the latest persecutors of dispersed Israel, and it is congruous both with divine justice and with the covenants that destruction should fall at the climax of the last mad attempt to exterminate the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem. The whole prophecy belongs to the yet future “day of Jehovah” ; Isaiah 2:10-22; Revelation 19:11-21 and to the battle of Armageddon Revelation 16:14.
7. This is from J. Vernon McGee’s commentary on Isaiah 10:6, written during the Cold War, apparently at the end of the Vietnam War. “Assyria is a symbol of another kingdom in the north whom God will use in the last days. Many Bible expositors believe this verse has reference to the ‘beast’ which will come out of the sea, mentioned in Revelation 13, who would be the ruler in the Roman Empire. I prefer to be specific and think it is a reference to Russia. Have you noticed that ever since WWII the Russians have won every diplomatic battle? They have won, and they have our country on the ropes today. I wonder if God may not be using them. You might say, ‘You don’t mean that God would use godless Russia?’ Well, He used godless Assyria to spank His people in Isaiah’s day. God may be using Russia to humiliate us today, and she may have already done that. When we fought in Vietnam, we were not fighting the North Vietnamese; we were fighting Russia. It was a very nice, polite war, and it was embarrassing. It was tragic and horrible. Was God permitting our humiliation in an attempt to bring us to our senses? It didn’t seem to work – we have not turned to God” (Thru the Bible).
8. Dr. McGee wrote those words over 30 years ago. Today we can substitute “Muslim terrorists” for Russia. Russia is certainly still a threat, but right now our biggest danger is radical Islam.
1. How all of this will unfold as we draw closer to the Battle of Armageddon waits to be seen. Interestingly, Ezekiel 38:5 mentions three of Gog’s (Russia) allies – Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya. Consider this alliance.
2. Ethiopian forces have recently been engaged in battles with the Muslim militia of Somalia, their neighbor to the southeast. About one-third of the Ethiopian population is Muslim.
3. Iran (Persia) is a major threat today. Both the USA and Britain presently have warships and strike aircraft in the Persian Gulf. Many are predicting an imminent war with Iran, and maybe Syria too.
4. Libya is a Muslim country run by Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi. The fact that these three countries are going to be aligned with Gog and Magog suggests a Russian-Muslim alliance during the coming tribulation period.