Reading through the Bible together
This chapter continues the theme of the last part of chapter 9. The 1st “woe” (vs.1-2) is to bring divine judgment against God’s people because of lack of justice, stealing from and abusing the poor, the widows and the fatherless. God has the right to judge His people.
The 2nd “woe” (vs 5-6) is directed at Assyria. First we see how Assyria is used as a rod against God’s people, then how pride leads Assyria’s king to boast that her leaders and gods are the greatest, and make plans to totally destroy Judah (vs. 7-11). So now the Lord will punish Assyria because of her arrogance (vs.12-19). God has the right to judge all nations.
But how can it be said that Assyria will be the tool in God’s hand to punish His people (vs.5-6)? Assyria didn’t know they were being used by God. They had let the spirit of Satan fill them and now God withdraws His protecting hand and Assyria is allowed to work out her evil ways. Hope comes again to us as verse 20 gives the assurance that a remnant who will trust in “the Holy One of Israel” will be brought back (v.21).
Our response to discipline reflects the condition of our heart. It can harden hearts (Ex.7:22), or cause some to “return to God” (v.21). This remnant understands that a gracious God seeks to “revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Is.57:15).
We see a merciful purpose in God’s judgments. Among those who were carried captive “were some who had remained true to God, and others who had humbled themselves before Him. Through these…He would bring multitudes in the Assyrian realm to a knowledge of the attributes of His character and the beneficence of His law” (PK, p.292). Imagine in heaven hearing an Assyrian tell one of the remnant, “It’s because of you that I am here. You were a captive in my country, but you introduced me to a loving God.” This reminds us of the Israelite captive maid who shared her faith and was responsible for leading Naaman, a heathen soldier, to find healing and God. With Paul we must exclaim, “how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” (Rom.11:33)
Prayer: “Lord, help my words and actions to lead others to see Jesus in me today. Amen.”
Lloyd and Sheila Schomburg