:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Isaiah Chapter 10:12-19

Isaiah Chapter 10:12-19
vs. 12
- “After the Lord has used the king of Assyria to accomplish His purposes on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, He will turn against the king of Assyria and punish Him—for He is proud and arrogant.”

- I thought a lot about this verse. In some ways it seems a little cold of God to use the king of Assyria for His own purposes and then turn around and destroy them for their actions...

- However... that wasn't really God's motive or intention.

- I found a commentary that I think made a good point.

- “In this verse we see -

(1) That God will accomplish all the purposes of which he designs to make wicked people the instruments. "Their" schemes shall be successful just so far as they may contribute to "his" plans, and no further.

(2) When that is done, they are completely in "his" power, and under his control. He can stay their goings when he pleases, and subdue them to his will.

(3) The fact that they have been made to further the plans of God, and to execute his designs, will not free them from deserved punishment. They meant not so; and they will be dealt with according to "their" intentions, and not according to God's design to overrule them. "Their" plans were wicked; and if God brings good out of them, it is contrary to "their" intention; and hence, they are not to be screened from punishment because he brings good out of their plans, contrary to their designs.

(4) Wicked people "are in fact" often thus punished. Nothing is more common on earth; and all the woes of hell will be an illustration of the principle. Out of all evil God shall educe good; and even from the punishment of the damned themselves, he will take occasion to illustrate his own perfections, and, in that display of his just character, promote the happiness of holy beings.” (from “Barnes Notes on the Bible”)

- Now, God may have used Assyria for the discipline of Israel, but it wasn't just because He had it out for Assyria.

- When we read the story of Jonah, we see Jonah being sent directly to the capital of Assyria. Precisely so the Word of God could be given to the people to bring about their repentance. And it did! And for about 40 years or so, the nation was a God-fearing nation. However, eventually... they followed the example of Israel and left God for idols and other things.

- God didn't stop there. Isaiah is not the only prophet to speak of Assyria. He's not the only one who prophesied that if they didn't turn their hearts back to God that they would be destroyed. To the contrary, for over a century prophets spoke of the destruction of Assyria. Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah all mention something about the fall of Assyria.

- Do you think word didn't travel? I mean some of these prophets were crazy! They did all kinds of things... you think word didn't get back to the Assyrians that the crazy prophets in Israel and Judah were prophesying their demise?

- How many times did God send somebody to them to plead for their repentance... that we DON'T know about? Jonah went. They repented. Apparently their hearts weren't too hard then. So what changed? What changed in their world to make them unresponsive to the call of God?

- Verse 12 here says that God is punishing the king of Assyria because of his pride and arrogance.

- Proverbs 16:18; 29:23
- Obadiah 1:2-16
- Psalm 10
- II Kings 19:20-34

vs. 13-14

- “He boasts, “By my own powerful arm I have done this. With my own shrewd wisdom I planned it. I have broken down the defenses of nations and carried off their treasures. I have knocked down their kinds like a bull. I have robbed their nests of riches and gathered up kingdoms as a farmer gathers eggs. No one can even flap a wing against me or utter a peep of protest.”

- The king of Assyria... and the people of Assyria, turned away from God. They decided they were better off on their own. They were stronger than God.

- In Jeremiah, God said this about the people of Judah, and I think it relates well. “Listen, you foolish and senseless people, with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. Have you no respect for me? Why don't you tremble in my presence? I, the Lord, define the ocean's sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The waves may toss and roar, but they can never pass the boundaries I set. But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, 'Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for He gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.' Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things.” (5:21-25)

- Psalm 14; 74

- The people were still living as if God didn't have any power in their lives. They were living as if THEY were the powerful ones. And to that... God said “Should I not punish them for this?... Should I not avenge myself against such a nation?” (Jeremiah 5:28)

- Assyria, HAD BEEN, a repentant nation... but now, God will judge them for their hardened hearts. He will use their evil hearts and their own ambition to fulfill His own plans for disciplining His people.

- You know that scripture that says that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)

- All things or everything... means the bad things too. One of the commentaries on verse 12 said that “God designs to correct His people for their hypocrisy, and bring them nearer to Him.” (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary)

- God was doing this for the ultimate good of His people. Without the punishment, they would continue to grow farther and farther from Him.

- So God used an evil thing... Assyria's ambition and pride... to punish His people for their disobedience, in order to bring them closer to Him.

- Proverbs 8:13
- Leviticus 26:14-46

vs. 15-19

- “But can the ax boast greater power than the person who uses it? Is the saw greater than the person who saws? Can a rod strike unless a hand moves it? Can a wooden cane walk by itself?”

- What is the creation without the Creator? We were created for a purpose... and we, the created... are not greater than the Creator who commands us.

- In Job, chapters 38-41, God challenges Job by listing out all the things that He has done in creation or in nature... and basically says “Who are you compared to me?”

- Now, the great thing about this... is that we, through Christ, have access to God's power. That's not to say that we control God... but we have His power moving in and through us at all times if we have faith in Christ.

- But Assyria was looking to their own power. They were boasting of the little power they had in comparison to God's... and feeling pretty good about it!

- “Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven's Armies, will send a plague among Assyria's proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory. The Lord, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night. The Lord will consume Assyria's glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague. Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—so few that a child could count them!”

- And why is He doing all this? Because they were prideful and boasting in their own power and significance.

- Who are we compared to God? We have no right to boast in our own achievements and accomplishments. For all we have comes from Him. Even Assyria, living as evilly as they were... their power was given to them from God.

- I want to add here the story of Nebuchadnezzar. In Daniel 3, we see the three Hebrews thrown into the furnace. When they walk out unscathed, the king makes this exclamation. “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue His servants who trusted in Him. They defied the king's command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!”

- He promoted the three to higher positions. He then sent out a message to “the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world.” Doesn't say just his country, or nation. But rather, the WORLD. This experience with God made an impact in this man's heart.

- The message said this: “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. How great are His signs, how powerful His wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations.”

- Here is this pagan king... worshiping the One True God... as the God that He is.

- But in the verses following, we see a dream. Daniel gives the interpretation of the dream to the king. And it's not pretty... but at the end, Daniel pleads with the king to please stop sinning and do what is right. Because otherwise, his reign of prosperity is over.

- God was warning the king... and asking for a heart change. He had been impacted by what he had seen and experienced... but he hadn't done anything with it other than look it. He hadn't allowed it to change him.

- The king however... did not do as he was warned.

- A year later (yep, God gave him a WHOLE year to turn from his sin.) He was walking along his roof, looking over his city. And he got prideful. “Look at this great city of Babylon! By my own mighty power I have built this beautiful city as my royal residence to display my majestic splendor.”

- And while he was still speaking... God spoke. He removed Nebuchadnezzar from the throne. He basically lost his mind and went to live in the fields with the cows. Eating grass and living like an animal.

- For seven years, he lived insane and outside of society. After the time had passed, God brought his mind back to him. And the first thing he did? He praised and worshiped God. “His rule is everlasting, and His kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He does as He pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop Him or say to Him, 'What do You mean by doing these things?'”

- And he ended his section by saying this: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All His acts are just and true, and He is able to humble the proud.”

- After all that, here stands the king in humility, worshiping God because ALL His acts are just and true... even making the KING live in the wild as an animal for 7 years... Even that... was a just act. Why? Because this was the way that God chose to bring the king to his knees. His pride was in the way. He couldn't get over himself. He had no room for God in his life. So God humbled him, so that God could have relationship with the man. So that his life would be more full than he could have ever imagined. Even being king of a massive nation...

- In repentance... came restoration.
- God simply wants honor where honor is due. When we step up and take His place on the throne... it doesn't sit so well with Him. We, the unworthy, are taking the place of the More Than Worthy... and claiming to be better fit for it than Himself!

- Psalm 73
- Jeremiah 13:15-27
- Mark 7:14-23

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