Isaiah 10 - Outline of Isaiah (Book Notes menu page)
I.B.3. Boastful Samaria doomed to exile, 9:8 - 10:4
(v.1-4 conclude the section begun at Isa 9:8.)
1. Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees,
and that write grievousness [which] they have prescribed;
2 To turn aside the needy from judgment
{ie., justice},
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!
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
{ie., your wealth}?
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.
them that decree unrighteous decrees... - The picture is of injustice.
The powerful rulers and judges create unjust policies and enact oppressive laws, to advance their own interests and agendas, to the harm of the common people. eg., Isa 1:23; 29:21
What will ye do in the day of visitation...? 3:14,15; 5:7,8,11,18,20,21,22-23
When judgment falls upon you who judge unjustly, who will hear your appeal for help?
the desolation which shall come from afar - depicts the destructions wrought upon Israel
by distant nations, beginning with the Assyrians and continuing on through the Tribulation.
without Me they shall bow down... prisoners... slain.- cp. Lev 26:15-17,36-37
for all this...- Yet, despite His unrelenting chastening,
the unrepentant nation remains under the Lord's hand of judgment.

I.B.4. World empire crushed; Glorious empire to come, 10:5 - 12:6
a. God's instrument of judgment to be judged in turn, 10:5-34
5. O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger,
and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
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.
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.
8 For he saith, [Are] not my princes altogether kings?
9 [Is] not Calno as Carchemish? [is] not Hamath as Arpad?
[is] not Samaria as Damascus?
10 As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols,
and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
11 Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols,
so do to Jerusalem and her idols?
O Assyrian...-
Here, the Lord addresses the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, who would invade the land during the reign of king Hezekiah. Yet, this message, being part of a series of messages (7:1- 12:6) given during the reign of king Ahaz, was delivered more than 30 years prior to the rise of Assyrian power under Sennacherib.
the rod of mine anger... I will send him... I will give him a charge...-
The Lord was going to use Sennacherib and his ruthless army to exercise judgment upon Israel, which is identified here as...
an hypocritical {HB= chaneph, profane, defiled, godless} nation... the people of my wrath -
howbeit he meaneth not so... - Sennacherib would not recognize that the Lord was using him.
Rather, he would attribute his conquests to his strength of purpose and to his military prowess.
Is not Calno as Carchemish... Samaria as Damascus... (v.9)
ie., Is there any city able to defend itself against the military power of Assyria?
Beginning with Carchemish, in the northernmost reaches of Syria, the line of fallen cities is traced progressively southward. Why should Samaria or Jerusalem think they could escape?
the idols of... Jerusalem and Samaria -
Three different words are used in v.10,11 for 'idols' and graven 'images.'
     The first word for 'idol' in each verse (HB= 'eliyl) means 'worthless objects' or 'false gods.'
     The other words refer to images or statues made in their honor.
     The images worshipped by the named fallen cities were more elaborate and beautiful than those possessed by Jerusalem and Samaria. Yet, those idols had proved worthless against the power of Sennacherib. So, why should Israel think their empty gods would save them?
     This was not an empty charge, because Samaria had been given to idolatry ever since the establishment of the northern kingdom, and because, in Judah, king Ahaz had instituted idol worship which had largely displaced the worship of Jehovah. In demonstration that these false gods were worthless, Assyria would take Samaria (the northern kingdom) captive, and they would greatly distress Judah and Jerusalem (where, during king Hezekiah's reign, the exclusive worship of the LORD would be temporarily restored).
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.
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]:
14 And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people:
and 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.
when the Lord hath performed his whole work...-
The Lord's judgment of Jerusalem will eventually be completed but not by Assyria, since they would be turned back from conquest of the city (see Isaiah ch. 36-37). More than a hundred years later, Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians. Prior to that event, the LORD did use Babylon to punish Assyria for their conquest of Israel.
     However, the fall of Assyria to Babylon, which preceded the destructions of Jerusalem (in 586 BC and 70 AD) cannot satisfy this prophecy of judgment upon the Assyrian after the completion of the LORD's 'whole work' of judgment, upon mount Zion and Jerusalem (v.12). Actually, the troubles of Jerusalem continue in the present day, and will not be accomplished until the end of Jacob's Trouble, the Tribulation period. Therefore, the king of Assyria is also a type (picture) of the Antichrist who will come against Israel in the future Day of the LORD (see Isa 14:24-26).
I {the Lord} will punish... {his} stout heart... his high looks.-
The Lord will punish the proud king, who is the enemy of God's people.
The self-exalting king will be brought down, even though he considers himself invincible.
cp. Isa 37:23-29 (re: Sennacherib); and Dan 11:36-45 (re: the Antichrist)
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.
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.
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;
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.
19 And the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few, that a child may write them.
shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?-
Sennacherib was but a tool in the Lord's hands.
A tool can be set aside, and even destroyed in the fire.
The same can be said of the Antichrist.
Who is the One who used this tool?
  • the Lord, the Lord of hosts...- There is but One Ruler over all. Psa 75:6,7; Dan 4:17
  • the light of Israel... - ie., Israel's Messiah (Isa 9:1,2; Mat 4:12-16)
  • his {Israel's} Holy One... - ie., the LORD, Jehovah (Isa 1:4).
    (All of these names apply to the same Person.)
    All, who exalt themselves against Him, will come to nothing before Him.
What will He do with this self-exalting 'tool' (the Syrian)?
  • fire... flame... devour thorns... briers... forest...-
    The Lord, who is a consuming fire, will destroy the Assyrian. The flame of judgment will begin burning within the evil ruler's being ('under his glory'), and spread rapidly to his associates. They will be consumed quickly, like dry weeds in a wildfire.
  • in one day...- cp. Isa 37:36,37 (re: Sennacherib); Rev 19:19-21 (re: the Antichrist)
  • consume the glory of his forest... -
    The 'forest' refers to the proud ruler's military troops, which will be destroyed.
    The 'glory' or strength of his army will be decimated.
  • both soul and body...-
    The death to be inflicted is deeper than physical death.
    This speaks of the second death, which no earthly victor can inflict. Mat 10:28; Rev 20:5,6,12-15
as when a standard bearer fainteth {lit., dissolves, melts, wastes away} -
Several translations render the word for 'a standard bearer' {HB=nasas, waning} as 'a sick person.' This pictures the end of life for the Syrian and his forces. cp. Isa 37:36 (in Hezekiah's day); Zech 14:12 (in the Day of the LORD).
the rest of the trees... shall be few...-
The number of survivors will be so small, in that day, that a young child would have no difficulty recording the figure.
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.
21 The remnant shall return,
[even] the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
22 For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea,
[yet] a remnant of them shall return:
the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness.
23 For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption,
even determined, in the midst of all the land.
the remnant of Israel...-
  • will be small - Like the 'remnant' of the gentiles (v.19, where 'the rest' is the same word),
    few Israelites will survive the calamities of the Tribulation period (eg., Zech 13:8,9).
  • will be believing -
    The remnant that survives is the believing remnant of Israel. v.21; Rom 9:27,28; 11:5.
    (Likewise, the gentile remnant "will worship the King, LORD of hosts." Zech 14:16)
...shall no more stay upon {ie., lean upon, trust in} him that smote them.-
In that day, Israel will lean upon their Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, whereas previously they had placed their confidence in political and military allies, who turned against them (eg., Sennacherib and the Antichrist).
...shall return... unto the Mighty God...- who will defeat Israel's enemies.
  • As the Holy One, He indicted Israel's sin. Isa 1:4
  • As the Mighty One, He brought judgment upon them. Isa 1:24-26
  • As the Mighty God, He rids Israel of their sin, and rests them from their enemies. cp. Isa 9:5-7
a consumption decreed... in the midst of all the land {HB= 'erets}. (v.22,23)
The fires of judgment would consume the unprofitable branches of the LORD's vine (Israel), along with those who sought to destroy the vine (eg., the Antichrist), according to the Lord's decisive word. Isa 5:5,6; 27:11,12; 28:22; cp. Joh 15:6
     The "land" where this consumption will occur is the land of Israel. The 'destruction decreed, will overflow with righteousness,' in fulfillment of the LORD's purpose to purge unrighteousness from the land, in which the righteous remnant will dwell (Zech 13:8,9).
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.
25 For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease,
and mine anger in their destruction.
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.
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.
the Assyrian... shall smite thee...- ie., the Antichrist, will oppress Israel.
...after the manner of Egypt. - as Egypt oppressed Israel in the time of Moses.
the indignation shall cease, and mine anger...- God's indignation and anger against Israel (v.5,6)
will be completed with the destruction of Israel's sin and unbelief (the 'consumption decreed' v.20-23,25). At the same time, He will destroy Israel's enemy.
...a scourge for him, according to the slaughter of Midian... rock of Oreb... -
As Gideon was a scourge {a punishing whip} against the forces of Midian, so the Messiah will be a scourge against the Antichrist (Judg 7:25). The enemy fell before Gideon with the sound of the trumpet and the release of light from broken earthen vessels (Judg 7:19-21). That victory foreshadowed Christ's destruction of His enemies, with His spoken word, when He returns to earth in glory. 2The 2:8
as His rod was upon the sea... after the manner of Egypt -
ie., As the Lord delivered Israel by His might in the time of Moses (miraculously opening a way through the sea, in which the enemy forces drowned), so, He will deliver Israel from...
his burden... his yoke... - the oppression of the Antichrist will be removed and destroyed.
...because {HB=paniym, in the presence, in the face} of the anointing {HB= shemen, oil, fat, fatness}.-
This phrase can be understood in two ways (both are valid):
  1. Israel's oppression will have been displaced, in the presence of prosperity.
    The word for oil {HB= shemen} often has this connotation. In some passages, it is applied to the prosperity of Israel, in the Messianic Kingdom. eg., Isa 25:6 ('fat things'); 61:3 ('oil')
    [Many Bible translations favor this sense: "...because of prosperity" (YLT and NASB).]
  2. Israel's peace will prevail, in the presence of the Holy Spirit's anointing.
    The word for 'anointing' {in v.27, HB= shemen} refers to the 'oil' or 'ointment' which was used to 'anoint' {HB= mashach} kings and priests (eg., Psa 89:20). Oil is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
    • When the believing remnant returns to "the LORD, the Holy One of Israel... the Mighty God" (v.20,21), they will recognize Him as their Messiah, the true Anointed One.
      (Re: the Messiah's anointing, see Isa 11:2; 42:1; Luk 4:18; Joh 3:34)
    • At that time, the believing remnant of Israel will be anointed with the Holy Spirit.
      By Himself, the Anointed One accomplished everything necessary to provide for their anointing with 'the oil of gladness.' See Isa 61:1-3 (where "anointed" is HB= mashach; and "oil" is HB= shemen)
         This spiritual anointing enables believers to receive and understand God's Truth. eg., Zech 12:10; Joh 7:38,39; 1Cor 2:12; 1Joh 2:20,27
    • At that time, the Most Holy Place will be anointed (Dan 9:24),
      signifying the completion of God's prophetic purposes, which include the purging of sin and the Presence of the Holy One.
      The Kingdom of the Messiah will be free of all enemies. Isa 11:9
But until that Day, the enemy continually threatens to destroy God's people.
28 He is come to Aiah, he is passed to Migron;
at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages
{ie., equipment, baggage}:
29 They are gone over the passage:
{a mountain pass near Michmash, 1Sam 13:23; 14:4,5}
they have taken up their lodging at Geba;
Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled.
30 Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim:
cause it to be heard unto Laish
{the old name for the city of Dan, 100 miles north},
O poor Anathoth.
31 Madmenah is removed;
the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
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.
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.
34 And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron,
and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.
he is come to Aiath... -
The approach of the enemy from the north (whether Sennacherib, or the Antichrist) is traced, as he progresses southward toward Jerusalem. Aiath (Ai) is about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. With the mention of each town, the enemy troops rapidly march toward their prey. At Nob, they pause briefly, about a mile from Jerusalem.
   [Compare the similar progressions in v.9 and Hos 5:8 (describing the advance of the Assyrians upon the northern kingdom) and in Jer 6:1 (of the advance of Babylon upon Jerusalem).]
he shall shake his hand against... Jerusalem.- in anger and arrogance, cp. v.15; Isa 36:13-15
he LORD of hosts shall lop the bough... the forest...- in fulfillment of vs.17-19
Sennacherib used these figures of speech blasphemously, but the Lord turned them back upon him. 2Kin 19:22,23
Lebanon (famous for its forests, a symbol of strength) shall fall by a {lit., the} Mighty One.-
Though strong and numerous as the trees of Lebanon's incomparable forests, the enemy's formidable army will fall before the Mighty One. The enemy's "bough" will be "cut down" (10:33,34) by the Mighty One who arises as the "Branch," in Isa 11:1-5.

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