Isaiah 10:1-15

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 14, 1999

Introduction

This is a continuation of a prophecy against the Northern Kingdom that began back in Isaiah 9:8. With each judgment promised, we saw the phrase, "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still". The idea is that the people would be seeing Godís judgment against their sin, but rather than repenting and turning from their sin, they kept choosing to walk away from the Lord. God has aimed at their pride and at their unrepentant hearts. Now He zeroes in a little closer on the leaders.

:1-4 Rest of the decree against Israel

:1 Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees

The unjust judges who make unfair decisions.

:2 To turn aside the needy from judgment

These judges would take advantage of the poor.

:3 And what will ye do in the day of visitation

the day of visitation Ė The day that God visits you. Itís a time when God will judge you, (NIV) the "day of reckoning". In the New Testament, the Greek word that is translated similarly means, "that act by which God looks into and searches out the ways of men in order to judge them, whether for the good or bad".

Lesson

Judgment is coming.

(Heb 9:27 KJV) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Illustration

Charles Spurgeon writes, "Is it not foolish to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at the end of it? A man goes into an inn, and as soon as he sits down he begins to order his wine, his dinner, his bed; there is no delicacy in season that he forgets to order. He stays at the inn for some time. By and by, the bill comes due, and it takes him by surprise. "I never thought of that--I never thought of that!" "Why," says the landlord, "here is a man who is either a born fool or else a knave. What! Never thought of reckoning--never thought of settling with me!" After this fashion too many live. They eat, and drink, and sin, but they forget the inevitable hereafter, when for all the deeds done in the body, the Lord will bring us into judgment."

God is an excellent accountant. There will be a day when all bills are due. How do you intend to pay for the debt racked up by your sin? The Bible says that the price of that bill is death (Rom. 6:23). You can pay it yourself, or you can let someone else. Jesus came to earth for the purpose of paying your debt, and that is why He died on a cross, dying in your place to pay your bill.

(John 3:17-18 KJV) For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. {18} He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

:4 Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners Ö

The rulers will be crushed by those being taken into captivity and by the bodies of those being slain.

:4 For all this his anger is not turned away Ö

As before, the people would not turn from their sins, so Godís judgment continued.

:5-34 Decree against Assyria

The nation of Assyria is now addressed. We begin a new section of prophecy. Verses 10-11 indicate that the Northern Kingdom has already been destroyed by Assyria. This prophecy would have been given somewhere between 722 and 715 BC, the first of Isaiahís prophecies under King Hezekiah.

:5 O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff Ö

O Assyrian Ė better, "Woe to Assyria"

rod Ö staff Ė Tools of a shepherd to guide and discipline the flock. It reminds me of:

(Psa 23:4 KJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Yet here, God calls the pagan, idol-worshipping nation of Assyria, His rod and staff.

Lesson

God uses the pagan world.

The Assyrians were being used by God, even though they didnít have a clue they were being used. This is nothing new for God.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God will call the ruthless king Nebuchadnezzar "my servant" (Jer. 27:6) because he will be used by God to bring judgment on the nation of Judah.

When the land of Gog (possibly Russia) invades Israel before Jesus comes back, it will be because God will put a "hook in their jaws" and drag them to invade. (Eze. 38:4)

Could God be at work in your life through your pagan employer? Definitely possible.

Are you comforted when God uses His rod and staff? (Psa. 23:4)

David found comfort in the rod and staff because he saw that they belonged to God and were used by God.

:6 I will send him against an hypocritical nation

The Assyrians would be sent against the nation of Judah.

hypocritical Ė chaneph Ė hypocritical, godless, profane, irreligious. Though Hezekiah had brought great reforms to Judah, this was still the characteristic of the majority of the nation.

:7 Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so Ö

The king of Assyria wonít know what heís really doing. Heíll just think heís out to conquer the world when heís really being used by God to bring judgment against wickedness.

:8 For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?

Assyria was a huge empire. It ruled over many areas, all which were ruled by kings. The emperor of the entire empire was referred to as the "king of kings". The truth is, the little nation of Judah was no bigger than just one of Assyriaís states.

:9 Is not Calno as Carchemish?

These are all names of cities that have already been conquered by the Assyrians. This was one of the tactics of the Assyrians as they came against a city. They would threaten it by telling the city of all the other cities that they had conquered.

:11 Ö so do to Jerusalem and her idols?

To the king of Assyria, the conquest of a land was a matter of which god was the bigger god. Every city had itís own idols, and it was simply a matter of having the best gods. The Assyrians were becoming quite knowledgeable in the religions of the world. They were finding that they were all basically the same. After all, they had conquered all these various cities and kingdoms, and they all had their own different gods. As far as he could tell, to the king of Assyria, the other gods of these other cities were far superior to the gods of Israel.

When the Assyrians would finally come against Jerusalem, this was the mistake they made, thinking that the "god" in Jerusalem was another "see-nothing, hear-nothing, do-nothing" kind of god. This was how they taunted those in Jerusalem:

(Isa 36:7 NLT) "But perhaps you will say, 'We are trusting in the LORD our God!' But isn't he the one who was insulted by King Hezekiah? Didn't Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?

Yes, Hezekiah had torn down all the other altars, but it wasnít something offensive to God, it was exactly what God had commanded His people to do long ago.

Lesson

Our God is like no other.

He isnít some plastic figure you stick on the dash of your car. He isnít some deity that you only visit on holidays or when itís convenient. Heís real. Heís powerful. Heís the Creator.

(Isa 44:6-8 KJV) Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. {7} And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them. {8} Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

This is a mistake that people often make. They are acquainted with religion. They are acquainted with doing religious things. They assume that what we are doing in church is just more religious stuff. But they havenít a clue that we are here to give honor, adoration, worship, and praise to a Living God. One who is here with us now. One who doesnít live in a building, but inhabits the universe. The One who can change our lives. The One who can save us from hell.

:12 when the Lord hath performed his whole work Ö

When God has given Judah the appropriate punishment for their sin, it will stop. God knows just how much is enough. He knows when to stop.

:15 Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith?

Can you imagine an ax looking at a tree thatís been cut down and puffing itself up and saying, "Look what Iíve done!"? Yet thatís kind of what we do at times when we get so proud of our accomplishments and want to take credit for something that God has done.

Lesson #1

Weíre nothing without Him.

Illustration

Corrie Ten Boom used to tell the story about a proud woodpecker who was tapping away at a dead tree when the sky unexpectedly turned black and the thunder began to roll. Undaunted, he went right on working. Suddenly a bolt of lightning struck the old tree, splintering it into hundreds of pieces. Startled but unhurt, the haughty bird flew off, screeching to his feathered friends, "Hey, everyone, look what I did! Look what I did!"

This old woodpecker reminds me of people who think more highly of themselves than they should. Usually they are so busy bragging about their achievements and their greatness that they fail to recognize God as the source of all their abilities. They are suffering from spiritual delusions of grandeur. Without the Lord no one amounts to anything, and in our own strength we cannot please Him.

Now saying that weíre nothing without Him doesnít mean that we donít have any value. We do. But again, itís only because of Him.

Illustration

Just the other day, someone bought the baseball that Mark McGwire hit for his 70th homerun last year. They paid three million dollars for it. Does that make it a valuable ball? Yes. But its value comes because someone was willing to pay such a high price for it, not because it was actually made out of three million dollars worth of material.

You as a person have great value, not because youíve accomplished great things, but because someone was willing to pay such a high price for you.

And now, when He chooses to use you, you still have great value, not because of what youíve done, but still just because He paid such a high price for you.

Lesson #2

Attitude counts.

Judgement will come against Assyria, not because of what it had done, but because of the attitude of its heart.

Sometimes God is not so much concerned about what we do as He is about why we do it.

(1 Cor 13:1-3 KJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. {2} And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. {3} And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Are you doing things to be noticed by others or because of love?