God’s Word for You
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, December 12, 2007
15 Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it,
or the saw boast against him who uses it?
As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up,
or a club brandish him who is not wood!
16 Therefore, the Lord, the LORD Almighty,
will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors;
under his pomp a fire will be kindled
like a blazing flame.
17 The Light of Israel will become a fire,
their Holy One a flame;
in a single day it will burn and consume
his thorns and his briers.
18 The splendor of his forests and fertile fields
it will completely destroy,
as when a sick man wastes away.
19 And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few
that a child could write them down. (NIV)
Earlier, the Lord had said, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath!” (Isaiah 10:5). Now the Lord condemns the Assyrians for misusing the rod and the club, by letting the weapons get out of control so that the weapons were in charge and not the ones swinging them.
The Assyrians may have thought that the sight of their many warriors struck terror into the hearts of their enemies because so many standing spears looked so much like the thickest forest. But, the Lord says, I will burn the forest down and leave so few standing that a small child can count them and write them down (my little son Eric can only count to five, and he usually misses three and four—that doesn’t leave very many Assyrian “trees”).
In verse 16, the Lord talks about a “wasting disease.” When King Sennacherib attacked Judah and laid siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC, the Lord struck down the Assyrian army overnight. By dawn, 85,000 men in the Assyrian camp were dead (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36; see also 2 Chronicles 32:20-21). Trying to make sense of the deadly miracle, the Greek historian Herodotus attributed the sudden death to the bubonic plague. The Lord of course is capable of anything—and everything. But perhaps here the Lord did use some kind of rapidly spreading disease, since Isaiah again says “as when a sick man wastes away” (Isaiah 10:18).
It is even more of a miracle that our Lord Jesus “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). It miraculous not only because God would do it, but because it has nothing at all to do with anything inside of us—of me. Paul told Timothy that God saved us “not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).
His miracle grace covers over the wasting disease of our sins—he is our Light, the Light of Israel, both here on earth (“a lamp to my feet and a light for my path,” Psalm 119:105) and in heaven (“the Lamb is its lamp,” Revelation 21:23). Lord Jesus, shine on us and be our cure.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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