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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 10:20-25

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Remnant of Israel

20 In that day the remnant of Israel,
the survivors of the house of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
who struck them down
but will truly rely on the LORD,
the Holy One of Israel.

“That day,” chapter 11 will tell us, is the time of the Messiah, the time of the New Testament until the Last Day. Spiritual refugees from Israel’s faith in the Savior will put their trust in the Lord. The nation of Israel had put their trust in Aram (Syria), their long-time enemy. But the Syrians turned on them just as the Assyrian threat came to a crisis. But the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, is faithful, “for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Not that it will be easy in these last days for believers. We rely on the Lord, and the Lord is faithful and watchful, but “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:13). That’s why we put our trust in God and no one else.

The title “Holy One of Israel” comes from Isaiah’s pen or mouth 27 of the 32 times it occurs in the Bible.1 Isaiah’s emphasis with this name is that God is separate, set aside for a special, holy purpose. This is the uncommon, out of the ordinary, unique God who has given Israel his message. He is not a mindless block like the false gods of Egypt (Jeremiah 44:8). There would come a time when refugees of Judah’s collapse would actually return to Egyptian idolatry, even offering prayers to the Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 44:17, 19). But no Queen of Heaven and no Egyptian deity could ever do what God did for us. In fact, they could never do anything at all. The false gods of the world can’t even tie their own sneakers, let alone untie the terrible knot of sin that binds the population of the earth. But Jesus did. He offered his own body and blood and he himself is the very balm of Gilead that healed the wounds of our sins (Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11).

21 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob
will return to the Mighty God.
22 Though your people, O Israel, be like the sand by the sea,
only a remnant will return.
Destruction has been decreed,
overwhelming and righteous.
23 The Lord, the LORD Almighty, will carry out
the destruction decreed upon the whole land.
24 Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says:
“O my people who live in Zion,
do not be afraid of the Assyrians,
who beat you with a rod
and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.
25 Very soon my anger against you will end
and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.” (NIV)

What the prophet is inspired to say is this: God’s people are about to suffer a great catastrophe. The enemy is at the gates, and the people who had been so very blessed by God (“like the sand of the sea,” which is what God had promised to Abraham, Genesis 22:17; cp. Isaiah 48:19) would be devastated.

And yet, after saying this, the Lord can say “Therefore…do not be afraid” (verse 24). How can God say that? The “therefore” here means “because of this.” The meaning is this: The Lord has decreed destruction, and so destruction will happen. But—and we can never forget this—the Lord has also promised relief. God’s people will be hurt by the world, but they will restored.

Luther points out that this is like something Job’s friend Zophar said: “You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by” (Job 11:16). And Job’s friends say other things like that. Bildad had also said, “Your beginnings (what Job lost) will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be” (Job 8:7). While we are always careful about using things spoken by Job’s friends to formulate doctrine, such things walk in line with God’s promises about what we will enjoy in heaven. And all this is only because of Jesus, our Savior who loved us and who gave himself for us.

1 “Holy One of Israel” occurs in these passages: 2 Kings 19:22 [Isaiah speaking]; Psalm 71:22; Psalm 78:41; Psalm 89:18; Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 5:9, 24; Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 12:6; Isaiah 17:7; Isaiah 29:19; Isaiah 30:11, 12, 15; Isaiah 31:1; Isaiah 37:23; Isaiah 41:14, 16, 20; Isaiah 43:3, 14; Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 47:4; Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 49:7 (2x); Isaiah 54:5; Isaiah 55:5; Isaiah 60:9, 14; Jeremiah 50:29, 51:5.


In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.