Just FYI- Footnotes in bible studies may come from any of the following: Life Application Study Bible, NLT, Tyndale House Publishers; Dake's Annotated Reference Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Bible Sales, Inc.; we also occasionally use a Strong's Concordance, and Vine's Expository Dictionary for Greek and Hebrew referencing.
For further study or reference check these out: www.biblegateway.com or biblos.com
:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :) Happy studying!
- “In that day the remnant left in
Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on
allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the
Lord, the Holy One of Israel.”
- In what day? In the day that God
strikes down Assyria. Assyria will serve its purpose and will receive
its punishment. In the day that God consumes Assyria's glory and the
people that survive are so few in number that a child could count
them. (v. 12-19)
- In the day when the enemy is defeated
and Israel's punishment for her sin is complete... then the remnant
that is left in Israel, will learn to depend on God. They will have
run after strong nations long enough. They will have been taken
advantage of enough times. They will finally look to the Lord to save
- You know... I have a cousin who is
living a crazy life right now. She's living life the way she thinks
it's fun to live it. She's chasing after all the typical things in
this world that are thought to bring pleasure or happiness.
- Her story reminds me of Israel's
relationship with God.
- A month or two ago, my mom sat her
down and had a very hard talk with her about where her life was
going. She was basically warned that if she didn't stop, God was
going to punish her, because her actions are those of one who spits
in the face of God in contempt.
- She was repentant for a week or
two... and then went right back to what she had been doing before...
with a vengeance.
- Recently, she's started to become
very ill. The doctors aren't sure what's wrong and the medication
that should be helping... isn't. If she continues her downward
descent... I believe that she will very soon find herself on the
verge of death... But regardless of all this... she's still wanting
to live life her own way. Still determined that nobody's going to
tell her what to do. No matter the cost.
- Israel lived their national life much
the same way. Prophets would come with a warning for them to turn
from their sin. The people would act contrite for a few days, months,
maybe even years... maybe even start to make an outward change... but
before you know it... they're wallowing in their sin again...
sometimes deeper than before. Sometimes with a renewed intent TO
- Punishment would come. The people
would repent... and sometimes for a few generations, they would live
righteously before God... But then, you would yet again find the
springing up of sin in the life of a nation.
- We are now at a point in Israel's
ongoing cycle that God says “Enough!” His anger has burned long
enough. They have been given enough chances. It is time for
disciplinary action. It is time to end the wishy washy heart cycle of
the nation. God brings His righteous judgment down on them, leaving
only a faithful remnant to survive. Much like the flood of Noah's
day, the wickedness of the hardened heart is done away with.
- God sees into the heart and knows
that they have no intention of ever allowing Him to soften their
hearts. But the remnant! Those left whose hearts are willing!
- Romans 1:28-2:16
- “A remnant will return, yes, the
remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. But though the people
of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant
of them will return. The Lord has rightly decided to destroy His
people. Yes, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven's Armies, has already
decided to destroy the entire land.”
- My mind automatically goes to the
founding of Israel as a nation in 1948.
- A few points to check out on this...
just as a side note- Ezekiel 36-40 talks about the restoration of
- God brought the people back to the
nation. And He not only brought them back... He brought them back
exactly when He said He would... down to the hour.
- footnote- “Those who remained
faithful to God despite the horrors of the invasion are called the
remnant. The key to being a part of the remnant was faith. Being a
descendant of Abraham, living in the Promised Land, having trusted
God at one time—none of these were good enough. Are you relying on
your Christian heritage, your participation in church, or a past
experience to qualify you for belonging to God's family? The key to
being a true Christian is faith in the mighty God.”
- So to precursor this event...
- “So this is what the Lord, the Lord
of Heaven's Armies, says: “O my people in Zion, do not be afraid of
the Assyrians when they oppress you with rod and club as the
Egyptians did long ago. In a little while my anger against you will
end, and then my anger will rise up to destroy them.” The Lord of
Heaven's Armies will lash them with His whip, as He did when Gideon
triumphed over the Midianites at the rock of Oreb, or when the Lord's
staff was raised to drown the Egyptian army in the sea.”
- I Timothy 5:24-25
- In other words, in speaking to the
faithful, do not be afraid when the oppressors come... for although
judgment must fall on the nation, there WILL be a restoration...
there WILL be a renewal of the heart... God WILL remain faithful to
- Many places in the New Testament
speak about not giving up in times of tribulation or persecution.
Rather, we are told to rejoice that we are being persecuted for the
sake of the name of Christ.
- Israel was being punished for their
disobedience... and this brings the question, “well what about the
faithful? If they were faithful, why were they being punished along
with all the rest?”
- I think sometimes persecution comes
as a way of testing. Sometimes it may not be a punishment so much as
other people's response to who we are in Christ. Sometimes, we just
happen to get grouped in with the people or groups around us. For
instance, ALL of the Israelites ended up in bondage in Egypt. Not
just the unfaithful... In war, all are impacted... not just soldiers.
And unfortunately, we are all in a battle... a spiritual one, but a
- II Thessalonians 2:3-7 says this: “We
proudly tell God's other churches about your endurance and
faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering.
And God will use this persecution to show His justice and to make you
worthy of His Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In His justice He
will pay back those who persecute you. And God will provide rest for
you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus
appears from heaven...”
- Luke 8:4-18
- Judges 2:16-3:11
- Ezekiel 21:1-17
- James 1:2-8 says: “...When troubles
come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know
that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will
be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our
generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for
asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God
alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as
unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are
unstable in everything they do.”
- Our lives are a journey to perfection
in Christ. Perfection is never reached until we come into our
heavenly bodies in a sinless state after death. The more like Christ
we become however, the more perfect we are. (Still imperfect... but
better than we were...) Christ sometimes uses testing to perfect us.
Consider it as the sculptor shaving off the rough edges of the
masterpiece. Testing or Trials into our lives a way of getting rid of
the things that bind us to this world or to sin.
- When the Lord avenges His people and
ends their time of punishment, it will be a complete salvation.
- “In that day the Lord will end the
bondage of His people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it
from their shoulders. Look, the Assyrians are now at Aiath. They are
passing through Migron and are storing their equipment at Micmash.
They are crossing the pass and are camping at Geba. Fear strikes the
town of Ramah. All the people of Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, are
running for their lives.”
- Basically this passage is telling the
people that the Assyrians are drawing ever closer. The cities
mentioned are on the path to Jerusalem. They're getting closer and
closer. Geba is the city on the other side of the mountain pass. They
had made it past the natural boundary and defense system. They were
going to be coming to the main city quickly.
- I find it a little odd that the city
that they're going for, and the city that's running is the city of
Saul. The first thing that God is taking out of Israel's life is the
starting point of their dependance upon man instead of on God as King
- “Scream in terror, you people of
Gallim! Shout out a warning to Laishah. Oh, poor Anathoth! There go
the people of Madmenah, all fleeing. The citizens of Gebim are trying
to hide. The enemy stops at Nob for the rest of that day. He shakes
his fist at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.”
- No place to hide... They are all
running from the wrath of God... and the enemy who's chasing them
down... stops to take a break. They're not worried about catching
them. They know they are the superior force. Indeed... he stops to
shake his fist at Jerusalem, the city of God. He is threatening the
people of God and in my mind, he's going after them with a vengeance.
To shake your fist at something generally denotes anger... I don't
see him leaving many survivors with that attitude.
- So here's Israel. The enemy is
bearing down upon them quickly. The end is near. Where is their help?
Where is their God? Has He forsaken them in this time of danger and
distress? Will He not rescue them out of the hand of the enemy?
- “But look! The Lord, the Lord of
Heaven's Armies, will chop down the mighty tree of Assyria with great
power! He will cut down the proud. That lofty tree will be brought
down. He will cut down the forest trees with an ax. Lebanon will fall
to the Mighty One.”
- Lebanon was known for its mighty
trees. They were strong cedars. They were used for a little bit of
- As strong as Assyria is... or thinks
it is... God will cut down the tree. And not just one... It says
“trees”. The whole forest is going down.
- footnote- “Assyria would be like a
tree cut down at the height of its power, never to rise again...”
- And indeed they were...
- II Kings 19 includes the story of the
Assyrian invasion. Because king Hezekiah went to God first with the
issue of the Assyrian attack, God Himself went out to the Assyrian
camp and killed 185,000 soldiers. When the rest of the Assyrians woke
up the next morning, it was to find the dead bodies of their comrades
strewn about them. They broke camp and went home.
- If you read through the story in II
Kings, I see Hezekiah calling out to God the first time he hears of
the oncoming Assyrians. Then when the Assyrian king sends word and
says “Don't let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with
promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria.
You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever
they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in
their way! Why should you be any different? Have the gods of other
nations rescued them?...”
- Instead of getting scared and running
away, or giving up... Hezekiah goes to the Temple to lay out the
message before the Lord. “O Lord, God of Israel, You are enthroned
between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of
the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O
Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to
Sennacherib's words of defiance against the living God. It is true,
Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And
they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned
them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not
gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands.
Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms
of the earth will know that You alone, O Lord, are God.”
- Hezekiah didn't go to God and whine
and complain. He went and sought the character of God. He recognized
the lies beneath Sennacherib's challenge. True, the other gods might
not have protected the other nations... but they weren't THE ALMIGHTY
GOD! They were just man made images with no ability to help the
people who bowed down before them. Hezekiah knew the character and
power of HIS God. The TRUE God. He knew if God chose to do so, that
He would save the nation, because God's character is always faithful.
- Had Hezekiah's response been one of
fear, or one of apathy, or defeat... I don't think God would have
responded in the same way. He might have allowed the Assyrians to
attack and conquer. However, because Hezekiah turned to God in an
impossible looking circumstance, despite how things looked on the
outside, God was faithful and came through completely.
- “After the Lord has used the king
of Assyria to accomplish His purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem,
He will turn against the king of Assyria and punish Him—for He is
proud and arrogant.”
- I thought a lot about this verse. In
some ways it seems a little cold of God to use the king of Assyria
for His own purposes and then turn around and destroy them for their
- However... that wasn't really God's
motive or intention.
- I found a commentary that I think
made a good point.
- “In this verse we see -
(1) That God will accomplish all the purposes of which he designs
to make wicked people the instruments. "Their" schemes
shall be successful just so far as they may contribute to "his"
plans, and no further.
(2) When that is done, they are completely in "his"
power, and under his control. He can stay their goings when he
pleases, and subdue them to his will.
(3) The fact that they have been made to further the plans of God,
and to execute his designs, will not free them from deserved
punishment. They meant not so; and they will be dealt with according
to "their" intentions, and not according to God's design to
overrule them. "Their" plans were wicked; and if God brings
good out of them, it is contrary to "their" intention; and
hence, they are not to be screened from punishment because he brings
good out of their plans, contrary to their designs.
(4) Wicked people "are in fact"
often thus punished. Nothing is more common on earth; and all the
woes of hell will be an illustration of the principle. Out of all
evil God shall educe good; and even from the punishment of the damned
themselves, he will take occasion to illustrate his own perfections,
and, in that display of his just character, promote the happiness of
holy beings.” (from “Barnes Notes on the Bible”)
- Now, God may have used Assyria for
the discipline of Israel, but it wasn't just because He had it out
- When we read the story of Jonah, we
see Jonah being sent directly to the capital of Assyria. Precisely so
the Word of God could be given to the people to bring about their
repentance. And it did! And for about 40 years or so, the nation was
a God-fearing nation. However, eventually... they followed the
example of Israel and left God for idols and other things.
- God didn't stop there. Isaiah is not
the only prophet to speak of Assyria. He's not the only one who
prophesied that if they didn't turn their hearts back to God that
they would be destroyed. To the contrary, for over a century prophets
spoke of the destruction of Assyria. Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah,
Nahum, and Zephaniah all mention something about the fall of Assyria.
- Do you think word didn't travel? I
mean some of these prophets were crazy! They did all kinds of
things... you think word didn't get back to the Assyrians that the
crazy prophets in Israel and Judah were prophesying their demise?
- How many times did God send somebody
to them to plead for their repentance... that we DON'T know about?
Jonah went. They repented. Apparently their hearts weren't too hard
then. So what changed? What changed in their world to make them
unresponsive to the call of God?
- Verse 12 here says that God is
punishing the king of Assyria because of his pride and arrogance.
- “He boasts, “By my own powerful
arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have
broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures.
I have knocked down their kinds like a bull. I have robbed their
nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No
one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.”
- The king of Assyria... and the people
of Assyria, turned away from God. They decided they were better off
on their own. They were stronger than God.
- In Jeremiah, God said this about the
people of Judah, and I think it relates well. “Listen, you foolish
and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not
hear. Have you no respect for me? Why don't you tremble in my
presence? I, the Lord, define the ocean's sandy shoreline as an
everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss
and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set. But my people
have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and
abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, 'Let us live in awe of
the Lord our God, for He gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring
us of a harvest when the time is right.' Your wickedness has deprived
you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all
these good things.” (5:21-25)
- Psalm 14; 74
- The people were still living as if
God didn't have any power in their lives. They were living as if THEY
were the powerful ones. And to that... God said “Should I not
punish them for this?... Should I not avenge myself against such a
nation?” (Jeremiah 5:28)
- Assyria, HAD BEEN, a repentant
nation... but now, God will judge them for their hardened hearts. He
will use their evil hearts and their own ambition to fulfill His own
plans for disciplining His people.
- You know that scripture that says
that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those
who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
- All things or everything... means the
bad things too. One of the commentaries on verse 12 said that “God
designs to correct His people for their hypocrisy, and bring them
nearer to Him.” (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)
- God was doing this for the ultimate
good of His people. Without the punishment, they would continue to
grow farther and farther from Him.
- So God used an evil thing...
Assyria's ambition and pride... to punish His people for their
disobedience, in order to bring them closer to Him.
- Proverbs 8:13
- Leviticus 26:14-46
- “But can the ax boast greater power
than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who
saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk
- What is the creation without the
Creator? We were created for a purpose... and we, the created... are
not greater than the Creator who commands us.
- In Job, chapters 38-41, God
challenges Job by listing out all the things that He has done in
creation or in nature... and basically says “Who are you compared
- Now, the great thing about this... is
that we, through Christ, have access to God's power. That's not to
say that we control God... but we have His power moving in and
through us at all times if we have faith in Christ.
- But Assyria was looking to their own
power. They were boasting of the little power they had in comparison
to God's... and feeling pretty good about it!
- “Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of
Heaven's Armies, will send a plague among Assyria's proud troops, and
a flaming fire will consume its glory. The Lord, the Light of Israel,
will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the
thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night.
The Lord will consume Assyria's glory like a fire consumes a forest
in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague.
Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—so few
that a child could count them!”
- And why is He doing all this? Because
they were prideful and boasting in their own power and significance.
- Who are we compared to God? We have
no right to boast in our own achievements and accomplishments. For
all we have comes from Him. Even Assyria, living as evilly as they
were... their power was given to them from God.
- I want to add here the story of
Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 3, we see the three Hebrews thrown into the
furnace. When they walk out unscathed, the king makes this
exclamation. “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meschach, and
Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue His servants who trusted in
Him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather
than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make
this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or
language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meschach, and
Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be
turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue
- He promoted the three to higher
positions. He then sent out a message to “the people of every race
and nation and language throughout the world.” Doesn't say just his
country, or nation. But rather, the WORLD. This experience with God
made an impact in this man's heart.
- The message said this: “I want you
all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God
has performed for me. How great are His signs, how powerful His
wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all
- Here is this pagan king... worshiping
the One True God... as the God that He is.
- But in the verses following, we see a
dream. Daniel gives the interpretation of the dream to the king. And
it's not pretty... but at the end, Daniel pleads with the king to
please stop sinning and do what is right. Because otherwise, his
reign of prosperity is over.
- God was warning the king... and
asking for a heart change. He had been impacted by what he had seen
and experienced... but he hadn't done anything with it other than
look it. He hadn't allowed it to change him.
- The king however... did not do as he
- A year later (yep, God gave him a
WHOLE year to turn from his sin.) He was walking along his roof,
looking over his city. And he got prideful. “Look at this great
city of Babylon! By my own mighty power I have built this beautiful
city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.”
- And while he was still speaking...
God spoke. He removed Nebuchadnezzar from the throne. He basically
lost his mind and went to live in the fields with the cows. Eating
grass and living like an animal.
- For seven years, he lived insane and
outside of society. After the time had passed, God brought his mind
back to him. And the first thing he did? He praised and worshiped
God. “His rule is everlasting, and His kingdom is eternal. All the
people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He does as He
pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth.
No one can stop Him or say to Him, 'What do You mean by doing these
- And he ended his section by saying
this: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King
of heaven. All His acts are just and true, and He is able to humble
- After all that, here stands the king
in humility, worshiping God because ALL His acts are just and true...
even making the KING live in the wild as an animal for 7 years...
Even that... was a just act. Why? Because this was the way that God
chose to bring the king to his knees. His pride was in the way. He
couldn't get over himself. He had no room for God in his life. So God
humbled him, so that God could have relationship with the man. So
that his life would be more full than he could have ever imagined.
Even being king of a massive nation...
- In repentance... came restoration.
- God simply wants honor where honor is
due. When we step up and take His place on the throne... it doesn't
sit so well with Him. We, the unworthy, are taking the place of the
More Than Worthy... and claiming to be better fit for it than
- “What sorrow awaits the unjust
judges and those who issue unfair laws. They deprive the poor of
justice and deny the rights of the needy among my people. They prey
on widows and take advantage of orphans. What will you do when I
punish you, when I send disaster upon you from a distant land? To
whom will you turn for help? Where will your treasures be safe? You
will stumble along as prisoners or lie among the dead. But even then
the Lord's anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to
- These verses are a continuation of
the previous chapter.
- The wickedness of the people started
with the leaders. Some of those leaders were the judges... the guys
who made the laws and executed their judgment according to the law.
- These judges had become a corrupt
faction. They were solely concerned with themselves. They were going
so far as to condemn the widows and orphans, those who were most in
need of help, to extreme poverty.
- In Exodus 22:22-24, the people had
been given an edict about widows and orphans: “You must not exploit
a widow or an orphan. If you exploit them in any way and they cry out
to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will blaze
against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Then your wives will
be widows and your children fatherless.”
- From the beginning of the law, the
people had been given very specific directions about widows and
orphans... I mean... the fact that God said He'd kill them if they
exploited the weaker members of society... that's pretty cut and
- I Timothy 5:1-16
- James 1:19-27
- Proverbs 23:10-11
- These judges had ceased to care for
their fellow man. They were using their position to take advantage of
- We are all in positions that allow us
to help or harm the people around us, whether we are judges or
bosses, or teachers, or parents, or garbage men.
- Now, not all of us may come into
contact with specifically widows and orphans, but we do come into
contact with broken people. People who... whether materially,
emotionally, or spiritually... NEED something from us. They need our
support, our help, our comfort... our faith.
- What happens when we turn away from
them? Or use their pain or weakness to our advantage? Oh maybe we
don't steal their money, maybe we don't take their possessions...
but... maybe we use them when WE need emotional support... and then
in turn... refuse to give honest support when they need it.
- I have a friend with whom I had that
kind of relationship. Any time something was going wrong in our
lives, we would run to the other for support... and totally drain
them dry... And as soon as we felt secure enough in ourselves to move
on or at least live life without breaking down... we would stop
talking to each other, or at least stop being true friends... we'd
fight, we'd argue, we'd verbally beat up on each other... tear each
other apart... and then when we needed that emotional support... we'd
be right back there... draining them dry... but never really forming
a relationship out of it. It was more like having an acquaintance
that you occasionally poured your heart out to about specific
situations... but never REALLY got to know them. We knew the hard
parts of the others' life... but we didn't know the rest.
- When I realized one day that I didn't
even know if they had siblings... or how many they had... that was a
turning point in my way of thinking... I didn't know basic details of
their life... but I knew all their relationship issues... How messed
up is that? Usually that's the LAST thing you talk about...
- Using someone like that, just hurts
both parties. It makes you both vulnerable, without the security of
having anything to fall back on. And it creates anger instead of
- So again... you may not be taking
material things from those around you... it might be something
- Any time you take advantage of
someone else, you are going against God's command to “love your
neighbor as yourself.”
- Romans 13:8-10
- James 2:1-13
- These judges were doing the same
thing... they weren't loving their neighbor... they were looking at
the things their neighbor had and trying to figure out how to get it
away from him. They were taking bribes... convicting the innocent and
freeing the guilty. They were only making judgments according to what
THEY themselves would get out of the verdict.
- Do we judge people like that? You
- How about cliches in school...
remember those? Oh yeah... the preppy kids, the cheerleaders, the
jocks, the nerds, the music/theater geeks... not much has changed
over the last 50 years... oh sure, they have some new titles... emo,
goth, skater... cliches are still cliches.
- How about using someone to gain entry
into the cliche? Using them to gain popularity... and then leaving
them along the roadside... ever been there?
- We do the same thing in our
workplaces... you know you do... there's cliches there, just like
there was in middle school... You have the workaholics, the slackers,
the brown-nosers, and the ones that will do ANYTHING to get ahead...
- How do you treat the people around
you? Do you use them for a purpose and then leave them to sort out
the pieces of their wrecked and broken life? Do you leave them
wondering “what just happened?” Do you find yourself looking for
ways to gain something for yourself... no matter the cost to others?
Does your heart harden when you think about the pain in eyes of
another because of YOUR actions?
- What kind of consequences will there
be for your actions? Considering that God was ready to kill these
people off because of their abuse of others...
- Jeremiah 17:5-13
- Habakkuk 2:4-20
- Ezekiel 22
- I Peter 3:8-12
- II Peter 2
- “What sorrow awaits Assyria, the
rod of my anger. I use it as a club to express my anger. I am sending
Assyria against a godless nation, against a people with whom I am
angry. Assyria will plunder them, trampling them like dirt beneath
its feet. But the king of Assyria will not understand that he is my
tool; his mind does not work that way. His plan is simply to destroy,
to cut down nation after nation. He will say, 'Each of my princes
will soon be a king. We destroyed Calno just as we did Carchemish.
Hamath fell before us as Arpad did. And we destroyed Samaria just as
we did Damascus. Yes, we have finished off many a kingdom whose gods
were greater than those in Jerusalem and Samaria. So we will defeat
Jerusalem and her gods, just as we destroyed Samaria with hers.'”
- (Before we get into this... I just
have to say... these verses SCREAM arrogance and pride...)
- Assyria was one of the many nations
that fought against Israel. It was an incredibly strong nation...
that at one point... actually repented and followed God.
- Do you remember the story of Jonah?
Well... Nineveh... was the capitol of Assyria. God sent Jonah to the
capitol to preach repentance. The city did indeed repent and God
prospered them. Later, they started to turn back to their old sinful
ways. God's prophets often prophesied the destruction of Assyria if
they did not repent... but Assyria turned their hearts away.
- However, here, this nation was used
of God. Eventually, because of their sin, they were going to be
destroyed... but God can use many things... even vessels that don't
know they're being used of God...
- Because of their sin, Assyria had
started to devour their neighboring nations... they had become power
hungry. They were destructive... and many of their nation's practices
are said to have been nothing short of barbaric. They were cocky.
They thought that nothing could be higher than they.
- Isaiah here says that they were
talking about how weak the gods were. All these places had their own
gods that they worshiped. The gods were reflected in the people of
the nation. So if the nation was strong... so were the gods... So
here stands Assyria, thinking that they are the best thing since
sliced bread... thinking that their gods... are most DEFINITELY the
strongest right now... and they're getting ready to go up against the
ALMIGHT GOD!? Oh boy...
- God knew their hearts. They weren't
listening to Him anymore. They had turned away. And they had set
their sights on defeating Israel. And while God could have stopped
them... Israel was deserving of their punishment. The consequences
for sin eventually find you out... no matter what you do...
- So God didn't stop Assyria. He
allowed them to take Israel captive. Eventually, tough love is the
only option. When God blessed Israel... and they still turned away...
time and time again... obviously... blessings weren't working. They
were using God... but not loving Him.
- And while God allowed Assyria to
conquer Israel... their actions did not go unpunished. They
themselves were later destroyed... to a massive extent. Nineveh never
rose again... you can barely tell there was ever anything on the site
at all... There are mounds of dirt... but no foundations of
anything... The people were scattered... and the nation completely
crumbled. Leaving no trace of its existence behind...
- Whereas Israel has risen from the
ashes... because they eventually repented... and God still honors His
covenant. Assyria, on the other hand, threw away the only chance they
had... all because of their pride and arrogance.
- “The Lord has spoken out against
Jacob; His judgment has fallen upon Israel. And the people of Israel
and Samaria, who spoke with such pride and arrogance, will soon know
it. They said, “We will replace the broken bricks of our ruins with
finished stone, and replant the felled sycamore-fig trees with
- The people of Israel were putting
themselves and their own wisdom above that of God. The cities that
had been ruined because of their sin, they were going to rebuild...
better than before... better than when God was with them. The
sycamore-fig trees that had been cut down and destroyed... were going
to be replaced with cedar trees.
- I was reading through some
on this verse. Basically, it was talking about the history of the
bricks and trees.
- The bricks were made of clay and
straw, and eventually, being exposed to constant sun, they would just
crumble and deteriorate. So the buildings had to be frequently fixed
- Finished stone on the other hand
would last longer. And would probably look nicer...
- The sycamore-fig trees were
incredibly intriguing to me. They are a short tree that sounds like
it's a little bushy. The wood is a kind of spongy. The Egyptians used
the wood for the mummy coffins because of it's antiseptic properties.
The fruit (get this... :) grows in bunches like grapes straight off
of the TRUNK. Not the branches... the TRUNK.
- These trees were not looked upon as
valuable, but they were very useful. David appointed a special person
over the head of all the care of the sycamore-fig trees just as he
did over the olive trees.
- Sycamore trees also have HUGE root
systems. It sends out roots in every direction and DEEP. When Jesus
in Luke 17:6 that if you had faith you could tell the mulberry or
sycamore (depending on your translation) to be uprooted and moved to
the sea... it was not an easy feat.
- These trees were planted along side
of the roads. Their leaves were huge and offered great places for
shade and rest.
- The cedar trees on the other hand, were
nice smelling, strong, and a wood that was straight. No knots in it.
It was a wood that was held to be very precious. They were used in
the building of the temple. In I Kings 10:27 it says that Solomon
made the cedar trees to be as numerous as the Sycamore-fig trees. So
apparently it was a sign of wealth or prestige of some sort. (The
cedar is often used to portray Christianity in that it is strong and
durable etc. However, unless it's being used to explain the second
covenant... I don't think that's what it was in this particular
passage. Here I think it is simply being looked upon as being a
valuable wood.) (http://topicalbible.org/c/cedar.htm)
- okay now... what has this got to do
with anything else?
- We talk about Christ being the
cornerstone of our faith. The building that was built on Christ,
wasn't good enough for the people of Israel. This could also be
related back to the two covenants. The first covenant was made to
lead to the next one. It was built to give the outline so that when
Christ came to fulfill the covenant and put into action the second
one... it would be time to replace the bricks so to speak. However,
Israel wasn't waiting for that. They weren't satisfied with waiting
on the promise. They wanted their better house NOW.
- Now, the sycamore tree really got me
going... If we look at the fruit as Christ, then things get REALLY
- This was a tree that was used and
useful... but not looked at as anything valuable necessarily.
- Isaiah 53 says this “My servant
grew up in the Lord's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root
in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His
appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. He was despised and
rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned
our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did
not care. Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows
that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment
from God, a punishment for His own sins. But He was pierced for our
rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have
strayed away. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the
Lord laid on Him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated
harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the
slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not
open His mouth....” (vs. 2-7)
- Jesus as the Sycamore tree...
unloved. Used, abused, but not counted as valuable.
- Now, I said we were going to look at
Jesus as the fruit... Before the Sycamore fruit could be picked, it
had to be pierced with a sharp object or fingernail 3 or 4 days
before picking. Otherwise, it wouldn't be edible.
- Now, also looking at the roots of the
tree... deep strong roots, and the fact that the fruit grew directly
from the trunk of this tree...
- God is our foundation. His roots run
deep. He is our shelter.
- Christ is God's Son. He grew directly
out from the trunk of the tree. He was a direct descendant. There was
no branch in between them.
- In order for Christ's sacrifice to be
finalized so that it would be for the good of all men, he had to die.
He was pierced in the side and laid in a tomb... for 3 DAYS. Without
His death and resurrection, we would have no hope. The fruit of all
His labors would have been in vain without His death.
- Israel was tossing aside this tree of
provision... their protection... for one that looked nicer and was
held in higher esteem.
- Do we do the same thing? Do we toss
God aside for something better looking? Something more valuable? All
these things are temporary! And yet... we still find ourselves
looking at those temporary things and thinking of them more highly
than the things of God...
- How many times do we get caught up in
our search or desire for something more? Like... money, or power, or
love, or well... anything? Maybe we want a better house, or a better
car. Maybe we simply just want something we can't have. Or don't have
the resources to have right now.
- Are we throwing away our place of
refuge (eternal) in order to gain more material (temporary) things?
- Proverbs 16:18
- I Samuel 2:3; 15:22-23
- “But the Lord will bring Rezin's
enemies against Israel and stir up all their foes. The Syrians from
the east and the Philistines from the west will bare their fangs and
- In chapter 7 we first heard about
King Rezin of Syria. Not much was said. Rezin joined forces with
Israel to go up against Judah and failed. They laid siege to the
city, but couldn't defeat King Ahaz of Judah.
- So now, apparently, Rezin's enemies,
the Syrians and the Philistines were going to attack his new allies,
Israel. (and I know Rezin was supposed to be the king of Syria and
then it says his enemies were the Syrians... I'm not sure why.
Sometimes it says that Rezin was king of Aram... so I don't know if
there were two factions of Syria at this point, or what the deal
was... sorry if that's confusing.)
- So now, because Israel made a pact
with Rezin, now they were going to be in the hot seat so to speak.
They had joined forces to make themselves stronger... and in the
process... they made some enemies...
- “But even then the Lord's anger
will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike. For after
all this punishment, the people will still not repent. They will not
seek the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Therefore, in a single day the Lord
will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and
the lowly reed. The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying
prophets are the tail.”
- Even though the enemy nations were
getting ready to attack... and would indeed attack... it wasn't
enough. God wanted them removed from the land. He wanted them gone.
They were polluting the land with their idol worship and their sins.
- Ezekiel 5:5-6:14
- “For the leaders of the people have
misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction. That is
why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy
even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites,
and they all speak foolishness. But even then the Lord's anger will
not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.”
- Because these people were all evil...
God would punish them all. Even the widows and orphans were
hypocrites. So even though their status in life normally would have
caused their to be pity felt on their behalf... now, because they are
all lying hypocrites, God will strike. His anger WILL be satisfied.
- Psalm 94
- Ezekiel 22:23-31
- “This wickedness is like a brush
fire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests
ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke. The land will be
blackened by the fury of the Lord of Heaven's Armies.”
- The wickedness had spread so far and
so vast that the only way to get rid of it was to also send judgment
far and vast.
- Widespread wickedness calls for
- Now, this place would blaze, not with
the fire of wickedness, but with the purging fire of judgment and
God's holy wrath.
- Proverbs 12:1-3
- Romans 1:18-2:16
- “The land will be blackened by the
fury of the Lord of Heaven's Armies. The people will be fuel for the
fire, and no one will spare even his own brother. They will attack
their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will
devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the
end they will even eat their own children.”
- Hosea 10:13-15
- Jeremiah 4; 5; 6
- When Israel and Judah fell... both
times, both separately, they fell after a very long siege. 2 or 3
years apiece. I can imagine how high tensions ran at those times.
Even before that... When God is absent... morals are absent. When
morals are absent... there is no reason to want to do the right
thing. Therefore, if you see something you want, take it. If you see
something that makes you angry, act the way you feel... There's no
guidelines if God is not present in a life. That life can choose to
do whatever they want... and without God guiding their hearts...
there's no reason to do good.
- Can you imagine the chaos? I can.
Because it would be the way it is today. Random robberies over petty
things. Murders over little meaningless arguments. Selfish acts built
on selfish feelings and extreme emotions.
- Even to take things from your
children or yourself... Some translations read that they would eat
their own children, some read that they would eat their own arm. The
idea is that they are willing to devour anything in their path if
they think it will profit themselves. Even their own body.
- How about drugs? Alcohol abuse? The
damage that is done to your own body just for a few moments of
pleasure? A few moments that make you forget about life? Or a way to
rebel against what others tell you is bad? That's a sin against your
own body. It's a destroying of yourself... for what? *sigh* Not much
- (Also... perhaps because of the
siege, quite literally people could have eaten their children...
there are some references to such things... although I'm not sure if
the time line lines up. There's references to women eating their
children in a time of great drought. So I may be getting them a
little confused and muddled together, but the Lamentations verse
below also talks about women eating their children during a siege.)
- Lamentations 4
- One of the commentaries I was reading
on these verses made the comment that “sin carries this (God's
wrath) within itself as its own self-punishment.”
- “Manasseh will feed on Ephraim,
Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even
then the Lord's anger will not be satisfied. His first is still
poised to strike.”
- Manasseh and Ephraim were the sons of
Joseph... two tribes from one... As close as brothers. The brother
tribes would fight against and devour each other... only joining
together for one common enemy... another brother...
- And even still... God's hand will
still be poised to strike.
- As I sit and write this... my heart
is heavy. Right now, someone very near and dear to me is throwing
their life away... *sigh* Our prayer has become that God would do
whatever it takes to bring her back.
- The harsh truth of her situation, and
the situation with Israel and Judah... is that God WILL do whatever
it takes to bring His people back into holy communion with Him. And
if that means showing a little tough love... then that's what He'll
do. Sometimes love... is shown simply through discipline.
- The judgment that came upon Judah and
Israel came because God had tried everything else to win their
hearts... and nothing worked. So the last available option... was
punishment. And hopefully through their punishment and discipline for
their sin... the people will again turn to the God who gave His all