Isaiah 10

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,
that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4

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A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2006 James Melough

10:1.  “Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; “


The Amplified Bible translates this, “Woe to those judges who issue unrighteous decrees, and to the magistrates who keep causing unjust and oppressive decisions to be recorded.”


We who have the privilege of living in America should never cease to thank God for the good laws which insure the liberties we enjoy.  This however, is not to say that there aren’t injustices, and that the law isn’t often manipulated in favor of those rich enough to hire the most skillful lawyers; but the fact remains that we enjoy enfranchisement that is the envy of millions.


The verse we are considering however, evokes the recollection of the most heinous travesty of justice the world has ever witnessed: the trial [sic], and conviction of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nor should we forget that that crime was perpetrated by those who claimed to be the religious leaders and teachers of the people.  And as it was with the Master so has it been also with His followers.  In those dark ages when Europe lay in thralldom to Papal Rome, true believers suffered unbelievable forms of torture, and died the cruelest deaths, at the instigation of that same Satanic Papal system which wields religious dominion over millions of deluded dupes today; the only thing restraining her murderous activity being the legal systems of the majority of civilized nations.


10:2.  “To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!”


To turn aside the needy from judgment was to deprive the poor of their just rights by manipulating the laws to deny them what rightly belonged to them, or by the same crooked means taking from them what little they already possessed.  Widows and orphans were the most vulnerable to the crooked schemes of the greedy and unscrupulous rich, and it was the hypocritical Jewish religious leaders who were guilty of these crimes.


10:3.  “And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?”


The unscrupulous moneygrubbers were being called upon to consider the fact that there would be a day of judgment when God would call them to account by bringing against them a powerful foe before whom they would be powerless.  In a broader context all men are warned that ultimately they will have to render an account of their lives to God, the eternal condemnation of unbelievers being that they refused to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, the degree of their torment in the lake of fire being proportionate to the extent of their sins.


Glory, as used here is also translated honor: plunder: wealth: treasure.


The eternal future of the born-again man is vastly different.  He will never be brought into judgment for his sins, all of them - past, present, and future, having been atoned for by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ; while all his good deeds will be recompensed with a proportionate eternal reward.  What folly it is for a man to barter away eternal treasure for a few worthless worldly baubles that will have to be left here on earth when his life ends, and his soul is transported to heaven or hell depending on whether he died as a believer, or as an unbeliever.


10:4.  “Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain.  For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”


Those of whom the prophet wrote, i.e., the unbelievers who heard his warning, but who refused to repent, would become prisoners of the enemy, or would die - their carcases being left to rot among the slain.  And terrible as all of this would be, it still would not turn away God’s anger: His hand would remain stretched out, not to bless, but to destroy the guilty rebels.


No sane person can read this, and believe the lie of those agents of Satan who try to persuade men that God is too loving to send anyone to hell.  Calvary is the proof that He will never make justice subservient to love.  All His attributes exist in equal measure.  When He pardons repentant sinners it is on the just basis of Christ’s vicarious death.


10:5.  “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.”


This verse is also rendered, “Ho Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, the staff in whose hand is mine indignation,” ASV; “The Assyrian! He is the rod that I wield in my anger, and the staff of my wrath is in his hand,” NEB; “Assyria is the whip of my anger; his military strength is my weapon,” TAYLOR.


This was God’s warning that Israel’s disobedience was about to be visited with judgment, and it serves to remind saint and sinner alike that sin brings chastisement, which is designed to restore the believer to an obedient walk; and the unbeliever, to seek refuge in Christ by trusting Him as Savior.


10:6.  “I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.”


Hypocrisy is abhorrent to God as is attested by the severity of this threatened judgment, and the Lord’s scathing denunciation of the hypocritical Jewish leaders in Matthew 11:21; 18:7; 23:13-16,23,25, and Luke 11:42-52.


10:7.  “Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.”


The ambiguity of this verse is removed by better translations, e.g., “But the king of Assyria will not know that it is I who sent him,” Taylor; “But this man’s purpose is lawless, lawless are the plans of his mind,” NEB.  The Assyrian king, bent only on conquest and plunder, would be oblivious of the fact that he himself was being made the instrument of Jehovah for the punishment of His rebellious people.


He is a wise man who seeks to know whether adversity is divine correction designed to secure greater obedience, so that He might pour out blessing.


10:8.  “For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?”


Two other translations clarify this verse.  ”For the Assyrian says, Are not my officers all of them either [subjugated] kings or their equal?” Amplified Bible; “He will declare that every one of his princes will soon be a king, ruling a conquered land,” Taylor.


History bears witness to the misery that has been the concomitant of similar ambition, Hitler being the conspicuous modern example.


God’s command is, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God,” Micah 6:8.


10:9.  “Is not Calno as Carchemish? Is not Hamath as Arpad? Is not Samaria as Damascus?”


Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “We will destroy Calno just as we did Carchemish,” he will say, “and Hamath will go down before us as Arpad did; and we will destroy Israel just as we did Damascus.” 


The Amplified Bible renders it, “Is not Calno of Babylonia conquered as is Carchemish on the Euphrates.  Is not Hamath in Upper Syria as Arpad, her neighbor? Is not Samaria in Israel as Damascus in Syria [Have any of these cities been able to resist Assyria? Not one.]”


This was the proud aggressor’s arrogant boast, but like many another, he was ignorant of the nature of Jehovah, and that the contest was between him, the puny created thing, and the almighty Creator!


10:10.  “As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;”


The enemy’s boasting continued with a recital of the nations he had conquered, and whose idols were more numerous and glorious than those in Jerusalem and Samaria. He obviously considered Jehovah, the God of the Israelites, to be just another of the imaginary deities represented by the idols of the nations.


10:11.  “Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?”


What the Assyrian had done to other nations he purposed doing also to Israel, but he knew not that he himself was but an instrument in Jehovah’s hand to accomplish His will in chastising His rebellious people Israel.


10:12.  “Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.”


The first half of this verse records the words of Isaiah, the second half, beginning with “I will ....” being his quotation of what the Lord Himself had declared relative to His punishment of Assyria.


“... the fruit of the stout heart, etc.,” refers to the proud thoughts, words and deeds of Sennacherib, the Assyrian king.  He, having been the instrument of God to punish Israel, would then himself be punished by God for the arrogant pride that had induced him to ignore God and imagine that the power had been all his own.


10:13.  “For he saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: and I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:”


His failure to recognize God as the Giver of all his victories had begotten such pride that he thought himself to be so wise and powerful as to be invincible.  He had changed the boundaries of conquered nations, plundered their treasures, and charged through them like a rampaging bull, leaving death and destruction in his wake.  Nor has he been alone in this.  He is, in fact, only one of many whose deeds blot the pages of history, and mark them as prototypes of the man of sin, the Beast who will ravage the whole earth in the Great Tribulation.


10:14.  “And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: as one gathereth eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.”


He likened himself to a man who had found an abandoned nest filled with eggs which he took for himself, the eggs representing the possessions of the plundered people, who are portrayed here as helpless birds unable even to flap a wing in self-defense, or utter one small peep of protest.  So will it be during the reign of the Beast.


10:15.  “Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.”


The Speaker here is God responding to Sennacherib’s arrogant boasting by reminding him that he, Sennacherib, was merely an instrument in the hand of Jehovah to chastise His disobedient people Israel.


10:16.  “Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness: and under his glory he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.”


Taylor has translated this, “Because of all your evil boasting, O King of Assyria, the Lord of Hosts will send a plague among your proud troops, and strike them down.”


10:17.  “And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day;”


10:18.  “And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth.”


The “light of Israel” is God Himself, the Holy One; the thorns and briers are the Assyrian soldiers, likened also to a forest and to a fruitful field; but God would destroy them with one stroke, this promise being carried out when in one night, as they lay sleeping, He slew 185,000 of them, see 37:36.  It is solemnly significant that they died “both soul and body,” i.e., they were unbelievers, so that their souls descended into hell to await the resurrection of death when they will be cast, body, soul, and spirit into the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.


10:19.  “And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.”


Those who would survive would be so few that even a little child could count them.  There can be little question that the foregoing is a symbolic preview of what will be in the Great Tribulation, when multitudes, not only of Jews, but of Gentiles also, will die, leaving only a very small remnant of both, all believers, to pass into the enjoyment of earthly blessing in the Millennium.


10:20.  “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.”


Since Israel speaks of that which is of the Spirit; and Jacob, of what pertains to the flesh, the use of both names confirms that the people described are converted Jews, not in heaven, but here on earth at the beginning of the Millennium.  Having learned by bitter experience the folly of having put their trust in the Beast, their confidence will henceforth be in Jehovah only.


He is a wise man who learns that lesson early in life, so that he can pass through this earthly scene in the enjoyment of his salvation, having the assurance that “All things work together for good to those who love God,” Romans 8:28.


10:21.  “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.”


The ultimate application is to the remnant that will have survived the judgments of the Great Tribulation, and that will pass into the enjoyment of millennial blessing.


The use of the name Jacob continues to emphasize that these are converted Jews returned or returning to Palestine after the Great Tribulation, their deliverance out of the hand of the Beast convincing them that Jehovah is the Almighty, the Omnipotent God, against Whom no foe can stand.  If that same knowledge gripped our hearts as it should, we would have no anxious care about anything.


10:22.  “For though thy people be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.”


Though Israel were as many as the sands of the sea-shore, the just judgment of God will decimate them, leaving only a small believing remnant to return to the land to inherit millennial blessing, the Tribulation judgments being the instrument that God, in the vindication of righteousness, will ultimately use to destroy the wicked prior to the inauguration of the millennial kingdom.


“the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness,” is

also rendered, “the destruction is decreed as overwhelming justice demands,” NAB; “destruction has been determined, to prove beyond doubt the righteous purpose of the Lord,” Phillips.


Statements like these refute the lies of those who teach that God is too loving to condemn anyone to eternal torment in the lake of fire.


10:23.  “For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.”


This is also rendered, “For a full end, and that determined will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, make in the midst of all the earth,” ASV; “For the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will complete the destruction he has determined, for all the world to see,” Phillips.


Israel has experienced many judgments in the course of her long and troubled history, but they will all pale into insignificance compared with those that will devastate her in the Great Tribulation, as recorded in Luke 21:20-28.


10:24.  “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of hosts, O my people that dwellest in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrian: he shall smite thee with a rod, and shall lift up his staff against thee, after the manner of Egypt.”


This was God’s warning to the people not to make an alliance with the Assyrians into whose hand He was going to deliver them for correction because of their disobedience, that chastisement being designed to turn them back to Him in repentance, so that He might bless them.  It was for the same cause, and for the same purpose that He had delivered their fathers into the hands of the Egyptians.


10:25.  “For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.”


Other renderings of this verse are, “... the indignation against thee shall be accomplished, and mine anger shall be directed to his destruction,” ASV; “... in a little while My anger against you will end, and then it will rise against them to destroy them,” Taylor.


God’s correction of His own is that of a Father, and is for their blessing; but for those who refuse to repent it is the fire of His wrath for their destruction, as it is written, “Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons .... Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yeildeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby,” Hebrews 12:6-11.


10:26.  “And the Lord of hosts shall stir up a scourge for him according to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb: and as his rod was upon the sea, so shall he lift it up after the manner of Egypt.”


Taylor’s translation of this verse reads, “The Lord of hosts will send His angel to slay them in a mighty slaughter like the time when Gideon triumphed over Midian at the rock of Oreb or the time God drowned the Egyptian armies in the sea.”


Relative to the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Oreb, see my comments on Judges chapter 7; and on Exodus chapter 14 relative to His drowning of the Egyptians at the Red or Reed Sea, both commentaries being posted on this web site.


God’s assurance to Judah was that as He had annihilated the Midianites and the Egyptians when they sought to destroy Israel, so would He also wipe out the Assyrians.  This is recorded for our encouragement: he who raises his hand against a believer automatically makes God his Adversary.


And as with many, if indeed not all of the deliverances enjoyed by God’s people, these two are but miniatures of those that will be given in the Great Tribulation, and at the final great battle of Armageddon.


10:27.  “And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.”


God’s encouragement continued with the assurance that Assyria’s dominion would be broken “because of the anointing.”  On the night of the Passover the Israelites had been commanded by God to apply the blood of the Passover lamb to the doors of their houses, His assurance being, “... when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt, Exodus 12:13.”  The anointing blood on the doors of their houses guaranteed the safety of the Israelites that night, making them God’s “anointed” people, the type being fulfilled when a sinner trusts in Christ as his Savior, thus making himself one of God’s anointed ones.  This is the “anointing” referred to here: it is that of the Holy Spirit Who indwells all believers, thus marking them as God’s children.


It is to be noted that the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is a phenomenon not known until the day of Pentecost.  In the OT age He came upon men, but He did not permanently indwell them, as He now does believers during this present age of grace.


10:28.  “He is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages:”


Aiath (or Ai) means a heap; Migron, hurling down; Michmash poverty was felt.  The camping of the Assyrians at Michmash may be a symbolic picture of Calvary where Satan, whom the Assyrian typifies, appeared to have accomplished his greatest victory, Christ seeming to have been hurled down, and left a defeated foe.


10:29.  “They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.”


The enemy appeared to be invincible, and so must it have seemed also that day at Calvary, which drew to a close with the Lord Jesus Christ hanging dead on the cross, and His followers fled.


Geba means elevation; Ramah, the height: Gibeah a hill; all these places continuing to speak of Calvary, and confirming that the scene before us is a foreshadowing of the seeming victory of Satan, and defeat of Christ.


10:30.  “Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim; cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth.”


Gallim means billows: heaps of waters; Laish, a lion; and Anathoth, affliction: answers.  The typological picture continues to be of Calvary where billows of Divine wrath engulfed the Lord while He expiated our sin, see e.g., Psalm 69:1-2,14,15 “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.  I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me ... Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.  Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.”  See also Psalm 88:6-7,16-18.


The meaning of Laish a lion, scarcely needs comment: it speaks of Satan, of whom we are warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” 1 Peter 5:8.


Anathoth meaning afflictions: answers, teaches the lesson that rebellion against God brings afflictions; but it teaches also that His answer to repentant confession of sin is to pardon, heal, and bless.


10:31.  “Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.”


Madmenah, meaning dung-hill: garment of simulation, in the present context speaks of what is filthy and deceitful, and few spiritual minds will have difficulty seeing in it an OT foreshadowing of the evil city which lords it over Christendom today, simulated righteousness being the garment hiding from the eyes of the untaught the veritable spiritual dung-hill cloaked by outward ritualistic religious piety.


Gebim means ditches: beams: locusts, and since ditches and locusts have an evil connotation, it seems that in the present context beams are also to be regarded as evil, so that the symbolic picture appears to be of the destruction of apostate Christendom at the hand of the Beast in the coming Great Tribulation.


10:32.  “As yet shall he remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.”


Nob means fruit: empty: and possibly also his prophecy, meanings which convey no readily discernible spiritual message.


10:33.  “Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, shall lop the bough with terror: and the high ones of stature shall be hewn down, and the haughty shall be humbled.”


This is also rendered, “... the Lord of Hosts cleaves the trees with a flash of lightning, the tallest are hewn down, the lofty laid low,” NEB; “... the Lord of the armies of heaven is chopping down the mighty tree! He is destroying all of that vast army, great and small alike,” Taylor


10:34.  “And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.”


This is just another way of saying that God was about to destroy the Assyrians, their destruction being an OT preview of His destruction of the Beast and his armies in the coming Great Tribulation.

[Isaiah 11]

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