Isaiah 10 – Don’t Spare the Rod

Bible opened to Isaiah 10 with Theo salted almond dark chocolate on snowman plate

Today’s Chocolate: Theo salted almond dark chocolate

Today’s PassageIsaiah 10

Took me long enough to notice, but there’s a mantra going in yesterday’s and today’s chapters of Isaiah: “In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away, and His hand is still stretched out” (9:12, 9:17, 9:21, 10:4). The Contemporary Jackson Ferrell Version reads, “Ain’t no party like a God’s wrath party ’cause a God’s wrath party don’t stop.” It’s a prophetic indication that even after the judgment of Aramean and Philistine invasion, even after the judgment of Israel losing its leadership, even after the judgment of self-consuming evil, even after the judgment of devastation and captivity, there’s more.

But the focus of this chapter is Assyria, who is compared to a tool in God’s hands. Rod, axe, saw, club: the tool is unaware that it’s being wielded for a purpose, and thinks it’s just destroying to show its own power. Isaiah paraphrases Assyria’s attitude:

As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols,
Whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images
Just as I have done to Samaria and her idols? (10:10-11)

The Jewish capitol is just another city to conquer in the eyes of the Assyrian axe. But notice that Israel, just like the other nations, has idols. They’ve broken the second commandment, “You shall not make for yourself an idol” (Exodus 20:4). There’s trouble in the Jewish City, with a capital J, the Hebrew letter for which may also be transliterated as I, and that stands for Idol. That stands for Idol!

But once God has used Assyria to judge Israel for its sins (among which idolatry is only one), he’ll judge Assyria itself. He declares, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness” (10:12). Imagine a dad using a rod to discipline his children, then breaking the rod itself over his knee because the rod started bragging about how powerful it is. The children, however, will repent and return to trusting God, after the judgment has passed (10:20-23). Isaiah is a book of lights at the ends of tunnels–and sometimes they’re a brush fire, but sometimes they’re the actual sun.

 

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2 thoughts on “Isaiah 10 – Don’t Spare the Rod

  1. I often think of passages like this when I think about how Paul talks about the state in Romans 13. It isn’t the case that because God ordains a means of judging the wicked that makes that means innocent. God may indeed call his people to a different purpose than he calls the Assyrian, the Babylonian, or the American.

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    1. To be certain, we shouldn’t be surprised if God bringing good out of a bad thing looks a lot different than God sustaining a good thing that he made good. The bad thing will still get judged for being bad, even if God uses it to judge another bad thing.

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