And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. — Isaiah 10:20
When I was a young person, I had absolutely no interest in religion or anything spiritual. For a while, I thought I was in control of my life. Gradually, however, things started to deteriorate. Still, I refused to consider God or look to Him for help. Finally, when circumstances in my life were so bad that I didn’t think they could get worse, I turned to God. I was saved, and found the love God had for me so amazing that it was beyond description.
The contrast, once I began relying on the Lord, was incredible. Even though my circumstances before I was saved were miserable, they were beneficial to me because the Lord used them to help me come to know and trust in Him. Without the difficulties I experienced, it is possible that I might not have found the best thing in life — a relationship with God.
Isaiah prophesied that Israel would have a similar experience, only in a much greater sense. By the sovereign will of God, the Assyrians were to serve as His “rod . . . of anger” — His means of retribution upon disobedient Israel. The remnant who escaped the Assyrians would begin to rely (“stay,” in the focus verse) on God. Undoubtedly, their miserable circumstances while under Assyrian domination would prompt this change of heart. Isaiah said they would be imprisoned, enslaved, plundered, and trampled like dirt beneath the enemy’s feet. As dreadful as it was, to a significant degree, this terrible oppression would be responsible for their returning to God. Once they enjoyed the comfort, peace, and joy of being right with Him, perhaps they would look back to the Assyrian oppression with a different perspective. Those hard times would have helped motivate them to rely on God.
This perspective can be applied to our own lives. Unfavorable circumstances can cause us to grow spiritually. When life is not going right or easy, maybe we are a little more likely to move nearer to God and to rely on Him for help and guidance. Let us consider the potential good that could come from the difficulties that we face. No doubt, when we get to Heaven, we will look back at every adverse circumstance that helped us rely on God, and thank Him for it.
At the time this chapter was written, the people of Judah were far from God. The Assyrians were their enemies, and a force to be reckoned with because God was going to use them as His disciplinary tool. Assyria was a mountainous region lying to the north of Babylonia, and extending along the Tigris River to the high mountain range of Armenia. The Assyrians were originally Semites, (descendants of Shem), but in process of time non-Semite tribes mingled with the inhabitants. They were a military people, referred to as the “Romans of the East.”
Verse 9 lists cities that the Assyrians conquered. Those noted here were in a direct line from Assyria’s capital (Nineveh) to Judah’s capital (Jerusalem). Verses 28-32 list the smaller cities that the Assyrians would take. Soon, after a siege of three years, the Assyrians would capture Samaria and annihilate the kingdom of Israel. They would also overrun the land of Judah and surround the city of Jerusalem.
The Assyrians were proud of their conquests and boasted of their strength. However, Isaiah prophesied that God would punish them once He was done using them to discipline Israel. No tool can accomplish a task without a person using it, and every nation has power to accomplish only what God allows. This prophecy was fulfilled. In Hezekiah’s time (701 B.C.) the angel of the Lord slew 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, (Isaiah 37:36-37). Then in 609 B.C., Babylon overcame Assyria, and that country never became a world power again.
A few Israelites, a remnant, would be left when Assyria was destroyed, and these people would place their trust in God. Isaiah’s older son was named Shear-jashub, which means “a remnant shall return.”
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
B. Prophecies related to Israel
2. The destruction of Assyria (10:5-34)
a. The use of Assyria (10:5-11)
b. The arrogance of Assyria (10:12-15)
c. The demise of Assyria (10:16-19)
d. The promise to the remnant (10:20-23)
e. The repetition of Assyria’s demise and the remnant’s return (10:24-34)
We want even uncomfortable circumstances to help us rely upon the Lord. He needs to be the focus of our trust.