Isaiah 10


‘Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. 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? 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.’ Isaiah 10:1-4

This chapter deals with the scourge of Assyria and begins by describing the nation’s sinful state. Those who write laws and decrees to defraud the weak and the poor are denounced, Isaiah 1:10 / Isaiah 1:23.

They were taking advantage of the poor, the widows and orphans, there was no justice or righteousness being practised among them, Isaiah 29:21 / Proverbs 27:5.

When judgement comes ‘on the day of reckoning’, Job 31:14 / Job 35:15 / Isaiah 26:14 / Ezekiel 9:1, they will be completely helpless, and because they had turned to the Assyrians, there is no place to go because the Assyrians, who were being used by God, were coming upon them. even their riches wouldn’t be able to help them, Psalm 49:17.

Notice the reference to God’s anger once again, Isaiah 9:12 / Isaiah 9:17 / Isaiah 9:21.

God’s Judgment On Assyria

‘Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! 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. 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. ‘Are not my commanders all kings?’ he says. ‘Has not Kalno fared like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad, and Samaria like Damascus? 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?’” Isaiah 10:5-11

Here we are introduced to the Assyrian, who is the rod which will be employed to execute God’s wrath. In other words, Assyria is God’s weapon, Proverbs 21:1. God used an ungodly nation to judge what was supposed to be a godly nation.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Back in Isaiah 7:20, Assyria was identified as God’s razor, other examples of the recurrence of this metaphor identify such wicked powers as God’s bows, Isaiah 13:17, God’s battle-axe, Jeremiah 51:20, and God’s arrows, Jeremiah 51:11.’

Notice that Assyria doesn’t realise this, but boasts as though he should conquer all in his own strength. God is indignation against His people and this is expressed through Assyria.

Assyria’s intention was different from the divine purpose. The boasting of the nation ignores the fact that God merely used Assyria to discipline the nations over whose downfall the people gloated.

The Assyrian king became arrogant in taking credit for his victories over Carchemish, 2 Kings 23:29, Hamath, 2 Kings 17:24, Arpad, 2 Kings 18:34, Samaria, Isaiah 28:1, and Damascus, Isaiah 17:1-14, were cities and capital cities to the north of Israel. He took credit for what God had actually accomplished in making it possible for him to conquer these kingdoms.

Assyria thought of Jerusalem as just another city and Judah as just any other nation and notice they refer to God as just another idol. They destroy because they love to destroy things, not because they loved God. All this stemmed from his pride. Assyria themselves, even though God is using them, will be judged.

The Assyrians would eventually come to know that their idol gods weren’t able to deliver them from the Babylonians. The prophecy seems to have been delivered after the taking of Samaria by Shalmaneser in the sixth year of the reign of Hezekiah, possibly in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign, Judah was taken.

‘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 wilful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. 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 people gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.’” Isaiah 10:12-14

When God had made use of Assyria, He would throw it away. The Assyrian king foolishly thought that his own hands had gained the victory, he was boasting about it. Assyrians had been boasting, but what right did they have to boast, after all, it was God who had done the work.

Assyria will be punished because of their pride. It was God who brought the Assyrian Empire into existence for the purpose of bringing judgment on Israel. Once the judgment was rendered, there was no more need for the Assyrians.

God took them out in order to raise up another nation, the Babylonian Empire, that would in time be used just as Assyria in order to bring judgment on Judah. Once again, we are reminded that God doesn’t create evil, but He will use evil people, even evil nations to bring about His purpose.

‘Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up, or a club brandish the one who is not wood! 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. 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 splendour of his forests and fertile fields it will completely destroy, as when a sick person wastes away. And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few that a child could write them down.’ Isaiah 10:15-19

The ax, that is, Assyria, is not greater than the woodman, that is, God, or the saw is not greater than the sawyer. We read of the doom of the Assyrians under the figure of a forest that is burned and almost entirely consumed, Isaiah 33:1.

The words ‘sturdy warriors’ refer to the Assyrians and the words ‘wasting disease’ refers to the consumption of the Assyrians. This isn’t a literal fire obviously, but language to describe the work of God.

The ‘Light of Israel’, Ezekiel 5:2 / Isaiah 44:16 / Isaiah 47:14, will become a fire, Deuteronomy 4:24 / Deuteronomy 9:3 / Hebrews 12:29, and the ‘Holy One’, indicates that the work would be of God. In a single day, one of God’s angels killed 185,000 soldiers, 2 Kings 19:35.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘In these expressions, the army of Sennacherib is compared with a beautiful grove thick set with trees and as all the beauty of a grove which the fire overruns is destroyed, so, says the prophet, it will be with the army of the Assyrian under the judgments of God. If the ‘briers and thorns’, Isaiah 10:17, refer to the common soldiers of his army, then the glory of the forest, the tall, majestic trees, refer to the princes and nobles. But this mode of interpretation should not be pressed too far.’

The destruction of the nation would be so complete, that a child could count all that was left.

The Remnant Of Israel

‘In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors 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 be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous. The Lord, the LORD Almighty, will carry out the destruction decreed upon the whole land.’ Isaiah 10:20-23

Only a righteous remnant will escape God’s Judgement. Though the Israelites were many in number, only a remnant returned. There will be a remnant of Israel preserved, from the Northern and Southern kingdoms, Psalm 119:18 / Genesis 22:17 / Genesis 41:49 / Joshua 11:4 / Judges 7:12 / 1 Samuel 13:5.

We must remember that God never intended that in His judgment of Israel He would wipe them out of existence, He still had promised to fulfil concerning the coming of the Messiah, Genesis 12:1-3.

In Romans 9:27, Paul quotes the words of Isaiah and in Romans 11:26, he writes, ‘and so all Israel shall be saved.’ The word, ‘so’ is an adverb of manner, meaning that a remnant of Israel will be saved in like manner as the Gentiles, that is through faith in Jesus Christ.

Ahaz had made an alliance with Assyria in order to gain some protection from Israel and Syria to the north, however, when we think about the remnant that would eventually return after both the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, the people would no longer trust in earthly kings, they would now trust God as their King.

‘Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “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. Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.” 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. 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.’ Isaiah 10:24-27

God now encourages Jerusalem, He is encouraging His people to trust in Him and be comforted, Hebrews 12:5-11. God would stir up His people up and give them courage, He will raise up the Babylonians to come and destroy the Assyrians, 2 Kings 19:35.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following.

‘This is a promise that Jehovah will lift up his rod for the protection of his people and the destruction of their enemies, just like God through Moses had done so long ago when that action rescued Israel and destroyed Egypt at the Red Sea.’

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The Midianites were discomfited and punished. There is reference here, doubtless, to the discomfiture and slaughter of the Midianites by Gideon, as recorded in Judges 7:24-25.’

It was at the rock of Oreb that Gideon killed the two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb, Judges 7:25, and from this circumstance, probably, the name was given to the rock, Leviticus 11:15 / Deuteronomy 14:14. It was on the east side of the Jordan.

The yoke and burden of Assyria will be broken, Isaiah 9:4-6. Israel was a nation that was a part of God’s eternal scheme of redemption, however, when God’s plan was completed, Israel, if they obeyed Christ, would become a spiritual nation belonging to God, Galatians 3:26-29.

‘They enter Aiath; they pass through Migron; they store supplies at Mikmash. They go over the pass, and say, “We will camp overnight at Geba.” Ramah trembles; Gibeah of Saul flees. Cry out, Daughter Gallim! Listen, Laishah! Poor Anathoth! Madmenah is in flight; the people of Gebim take cover. This day they will halt at Nob; they will shake their fist at the mount of Daughter Zion, at the hill of Jerusalem. 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.’ Isaiah 10:28-34

Before the return of the remnant, Assyria will do a lot of damage and here we read of the advance of the Assyrians toward Jerusalem. The places mentioned here are all in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem.

After entering Aiath, Assyria passes through Migron, which is a place mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:2, it is at Mikmash, Ezra 2:27 / Nehemiah 7:31, they restore their supplies, 1 Samuel 17:22 / Acts 21:15. They then camp at Geba, 1 Kings 15:22 / 2 Kings 23:8, and Ramah, Matthew 2:18, trembles, that is they are terrified.

Gibeah of Saul flee, this was the birthplace of Saul, 1 Samuel 11:4 / 1 Samuel 15:34 / 2 Samuel 21:6. Gallim was a city of Benjamin, north of Jerusalem, 1 Samuel 25:44. Laish, was a city possibly in the northern part of Palestine, within the boundaries of the tribe of Dan, Judges 18:7 / Judges 18:29. Anathoth was a city of Benjamin, Joshua 21:18, where Jeremiah was born, Jeremiah 1:1.

No one knows where Madmenah is located, but here they are described as in flight, that is running away for their lives. No one knows where Gebim is located, Nob was a city of Benjamin, inhabited by priests, Nehemiah 11:32 / 1 Samuel 21:1-6.

As the bough, a large branch of a tree is lopped off, in other words, God would lop off Assyria. Like a mighty cedar of Lebanon cut down, used and tossed aside, so 185,000 troops fell under the plague.

Sennacherib returned in disgrace to Nineveh, Isaiah 36, where he was eventually assassinated by two of his sons, Isaiah 37:36-38 / 2 Kings 19:35-37.

The army of the Assyrians are described as a thick, dense forest, Isaiah 10:18-19. The army was destroyed with the pestilence, 2 Kings 19:35, but it fell as certainly as a forest falls before the axe.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning Lebanon, Ezekiel 31:3.

‘This is a pledge that the deliverance will not come by an army, or by any human device, but that the deliverance shall be of God and him only. The mighty one who is depicted here as cutting down the forest of Lebanon, a metaphor for Assyria, is, of course, God himself.’

Go To Isaiah 11


"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'"