Destruction of Judah is coming because the people continued to rebel against God and would not repent. God is going to address the arrogance of Assyria who is just the instrument in the hand of God to punish the disobedient people. God is using Assyria to punish His people but that does not mean the Assyrian Government does not bear the brunt of Gods wrath because they are still responsible for their own actions. God is sovereign and He knows the desires of every person and because He knows their hearts He knows what they are going to do and so He uses it for His purposes.
Rod can mean one who holds power like a King (Amos 1:5, 8) a tool used for discipline (Proverbs 13:24) an instrument for punishment (Job 9:34) or the miraculous power of God (Exodus 4:2-4; 7:9-20; 17:9) In this passage of scripture the word ‘rod” is used to mean punishment.
Isaiah 10:5-6 Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! 6 Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
1) The Rod of Discipline against the Disobedient
The Rod of my Anger: Rod in this context is the rod of discipline from a teacher (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 26:3)
Many people deny punishment from the hand of God because He uses natural means to accomplish His will. God was using the Assyrian military to discipline His people who would not turn back to Him even after God warned them many times to turn back to Him. The Assyrians were a rod in the hand of God to discipline His children to get them to turn from their wicked ways and back into seeking God. God will use nations and even Satan to accomplish His purposes that go beyond our understanding. Martin Luther coined the phrase “God’s Devil” because even Satan is a tool in the hand of God even though Satan will be punished for all eternity for the evil he does.
Job 1:9-12 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Isaiah’s main point was that what we are walking through has passed through the Sovereign God who loves and cares for us. This is a very difficult concept to grasp because we have been taught that God does things to only bless us and anything bad is not of God but God uses things in our lives for purposes that go beyond our understanding. Isaiah 55:9 says that Gods thoughts and ways are higher than we can understand so we must remember that what does not make sense to us is understandable to God.
We are not given the reason why at the end of the book of Job why God allowed all the pain and suffering to take place but we must trust God through the pain that He is going to work things out for the good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose.
This verse does not say that all things are good but God is using all things for THE GOOD and even for our good. The problem is we have a different definition of good than God. Trusting God in the midst of pain or when life does not make sense is not easy but we can trust Him because there is nothing out of His control and there is nothing He is not allowing to happen that will ultimately be for the good.
Isaiah is letting the people know that the military attack from Assyria is from God and the people could be encouraged because God was in control of how much they would do but Isaiah also wanted them to realize the need to realize the reason for the pain was because of their disobedience.
Against the godless nation I send him
The word “godless “means to turn away from; or to pervert and pollute and the people turned away from God and they perverted and polluted His ways. They were twisting scripture to fit their lifestyle instead of matching their lifestyle to obey God’s word. Isaiah is clear that God is sending the army because they are no longer seeking God but only their own selfish desires. The Assyrian army is where Judah placed their hope and trust and now the Assyrian army is going to turn on them and destroy them. The Assyrian army will come and take what they want and treat the people no better than mud on the road. God is allowing Judah to be punished because they looked to the ways of the world instead of looking to Him.
When it comes to suffering there are several reasons that we suffer. Sometimes we suffer because of our own sins, sometimes we suffer because of the sins of others and sometimes we suffer for purposes we will not understand this side of Heaven. Isaiah was letting the people know that they were suffering because of their sins and lack of repentance. The old notion that you only suffer because of sin in your life is not true. Jobs friends’ accused him of having sin in his life and that was the reason for all he was going through and God would rebuke them for saying that about Job.
God will discipline His children but He does so out of love as a father who loves his son.
Hebrews 12:7-11 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Is God disciplining you? If so you can know that it is because He loves you. If you are walking through something because of the sins of others you can rest assured that God is using it for something good even if you never understand this side of heaven.
Isaiah 10:7-12 But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; 8 for he says: “Are not my commanders all kings? 9 Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad? Is not Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, whose carved images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her images?”12 When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he[a] will punish the speech[b] of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes.
2) The Rod of Accountability
When God is done, he will punish the King of Assyria
This is the other side of the coin for God because on one side He uses people to discipline and even punish others but then He also holds them accountable for their own individual actions. Although Assyria is being used by God they will still be held accountable for their evil ways. God’s sovereignty and Mans responsibility are throughout the Bible and although it does not make sense to us we cannot play God and try and figure everything out. Just like Jesus being crucified on the cross was prophesied about and God knew exactly how it would happen but the people that went through with it are still responsible for their actions. God knew every motive and every action that would take place before it ever happened. God is never shocked by the behavior of evil people; in fact He uses it to accomplish His will.
The King of Assyria thought his conquest was because of his strong military but the reality is God was punishing His people for disobeying Him and not listening to His warnings. The King of Assyria got caught up in the destruction and enjoyed destroying the nations and making a name for himself. He took no pity on anyone and became arrogant. The King of Assyria thought that God was just like all the other gods he was able to overcome but He would soon find out that there was a true God who would hold him accountable.
Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Even though God will use other people in your life to grow you and turn you back to Him they will still be held accountable for how they treated you but you will be held accountable how you handle being wronged as well. We do not understand the full purposes of God when things are happening but knowing that God sees and hold others accountable helps us realize no one is getting away with anything.
Isaiah 10:13 -14 For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. 14 My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.”
3) The Rod of Punishment
By the strength of my own hand I have done it.
Punishment means divine judgment. The King of Assyria is bragging about his accomplishments and he even compares them to getting eggs when no mother bird is in sight which means “easy Pickens”. The King of Assyria use of the word “I” which shows that he thinks he is the mighty one or even a god. He sees himself as a self-made man and unstoppable. Jesus tells us not to live a life where we get the credit but a life where God does.
John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.
Notice the King of Assyria wants the credit and Jesus tells us He will do things where God gets the credit.
So the question is, “Who is getting the credit in your life”? If it is not God then you may want to repent from your arrogance and the thought that you can be god of your life. We live in a culture where it is about my will and my way and “pulling yourself up by your own boot straps” that we have left God out of what we are doing. The boasting that takes place even among Christian leaders is amazing. No church or ministry has grown because of a certain individual or a certain program but only because God is doing something in the midst of the people. (1 Corinthians 3:6)
Isaiah 10:15 Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
Should the axe or saw boast?
The reality is that these things are just instruments (tools) in ones hands with no right to brag. They are lifeless objects that cannot move on their own or do anything of their own free will. God is the one who holds the power and that is where we need to place our trust. The Assyrians were being used for a purpose but it was their arrogance and treatment of people that God would eventually judge them for.
None of us are anything without God and to think that we are something is the height of pride.
Isaiah 10:16-19 Therefore the Lord God of hosts will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors,
and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire. 17 The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. 18 The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the Lord will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away. 19 The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.
God will send sickness
Sickness and disease is one of those things that can take all of our pride away. Everything the King of Assyria takes pride in will be wiped out because God will take him away. This is why we do not need to fret when we think that people are getting away with things when they commit evil. God sees and God will judge them no matter how powerful they think they are they will all give an account to God.
There will be so few left after God is done with the Assyrians that a child could count them. The enemies that think they are a big deal are like wood for a fire to God that is quickly burned up. Fire is always about God’s divine wrath against sin.
The Lord will destroy both body and soul
Jesus gave us this warning as well when dealing with people on earth.
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[a]
The rod of punishment is coming upon those who continue to deny the work of Jesus Christ and God will pay back those who have done evil. Until that time we have to trust Him as we walk through the difficult times that He is using these things in our lives for good that goes beyond our comprehension.