Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Isaiah 14: 24-27

Judgment on Assyria

24 The Lord of hosts has sworn saying, 
“Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, 
and just as I have planned so it will stand, 
25 to break Assyria in My land, and I will trample him on My mountains. 
Then his yoke will be removed from them 
and his burden removed from their shoulder. 
26 This is the plan devised against the whole earth; 
and this is the hand that is stretched out against all the nations. 
27 For the Lord of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”

Not only Babylon, but all of Assyria would face judgment at the hand of the Lord. Isaiah includes a few short verses here on Assyria before then launching into judgment on Philistia. No one escapes judgment, and that's a main theme in today's passage.

"...To break Assyria in My land...." We have already talked about Assyria, back in Chapter 10--God using the nation as a disciplinary force against Israel and Judah. We traced the path of the mighty Assyrian Sennacherib in his march toward Judah, knocking out cities all along the way. (Read post, here.) But, under God's provision, Sennacherib would not only not take Jerusalem, but he would face the power of the God of Angel Armies.

"'For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David's sake.' Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians...."
--II Kings 19: 34 and 35a 
For its aggression against God's people, the Lord brings a judgment yet to come, for the "yoke" and "burden" have not yet been fully removed from His people. (vs. 25)
Although the header for this section is regarding Assyria, today's passage is such a wonderful character study of God Himself. What God intends to have happen, will happen. What He plans, stands. (vs. 24) We can think back to the characters of past rulers, now minding their time on their thrones in Sheol, who likely thought of themselves in the same regard. But which one can say with all truth that every plan born was a plan that went down per its exact ideation?

"But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does."
--Job 23:13

Job may not have understood what was happening around his life's circumstances, but he gives us a wonderfully succinct response regarding something of who God is. The one and only. Unparalleled. Not to be replicated. 

And, not to be thwarted. With verse 26, we return to some phrasing that Isaiah has used before: "...The hand that is stretched out against all the nations." Let's take a quick look back at Isaiah, Chapter 5:

"On this account the anger of the Lord has burned against His people,
And He has stretched out His hand against them and struck them down.
And the mountains quaked, and their corpses lay like refuse in the middle of the streets.
For all this His anger is not spent,
But His hand is still stretched out."
--Isaiah 5:25 (emphasis mine)

There is a hand that holds Jesus and the souls of the righteous in their heavenly places, and there is another hand that can cradle and comfort, or stretch out and strike His Creation. The Chapter 5 passage refers to God's people, and His hand did not hold back the punishment that was to come. It can be difficult to understand the extent of God's discipline. But it would be worth our while to consider the tremendous extent of God's mercy, grace and patience in light of the ongoing sinful behavior of man that leads to such a level of discipline. When we come to grips with the incredible love that He has for us such as to exhibit the greatest of restraint over our sin, then we might pray strong words like King Hezekiah: "...Deliver us...that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God." (II Kings 19:19)

In verse 26, the hand that is stretched out is against all of those who have come up against God's people--against "the whole earth." "All the nations." The ultimate plan has been the same since God originally came up with it. His chosen people will be saved! Who can "frustrate" that plan? "Who shall disannul it? (King James Version) There is not one who can stand against the "unique" one.

So why try? Ah...submission. Submission of everything. Our complete selves. I think we feel that God "frustrates" that plan. Do we ever think it's out of love? We love having clear-cut plans, making plans, making back-up plans, trying to keep our lives in perfect order. So easy to forget that we are not in the order-establishment business.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry speaks of this prophecy of Isaiah's, asking the question why would people care? It would not be for 200 years following Isaiah's words that people would see God's intervention in Babylon. Why should these words carry such weight, for them, for us?

"The Lord of hosts hath sworn, that he might show the immutability of his counsel, and that his people may have strong consolation."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

God not only speaks of who He is with such great authority, but He swears an oath to His people that they will see it as He has called it. Are we consoled by the fact that hope in our Lord is an eternal perspective? Henry pulls in the wisdom of the Hebrews in support:
"In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us."
--Hebrews 6: 17-18 

"...And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
--Romans 5:5

Judgment on Philistia.... 'Til next Wednesday!

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Next week:  Isaiah 14: 28-32
Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).