Who is the Assyrian - Part V
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

You will remember in our study of the book of Isaiah, we have been following the natural divisions of the book, which are indicated by what we have referred to as date lines in the book. At the present time we are in the section of the book which is called the Book of Immanuel . It is given that name because the word Immanuel or the translation of that word, “God with us,” is in practically every chapter in that book, which begins with chapter 7, and concludes with chapter 12.

You will remember also that the Book of Immanuel is composed of sermons and songs which were delivered during the reign of King Ahaz, each particular sermon related to a distinct and a definite subject.

As we come to the passage of Scripture which we wish to call to your attention in this lesson, we will be reading from chapter 10, verse 5, and carrying through to the end of the chapter. We have a special sermon which Isaiah delivered concerning the Assyrian. This is one of the most important sermons that Isaiah delivered, because it deals with a person who played a large part in the history of Israel in the day of which Isaiah wrote. Not only did this individual play a large part in the history of the nation of Israel in the day in which Isaiah wrote, but he became the symbol of an individual who has played a large part in the nation of Israel all down through the ages, and will consummate in an individual who will be the last great enemy of the nation of Israel itself.

I believe that all of these things will become clear to us as we look through this chapter, verse by verse. We are not going to read the chapter as we usually do, but we are going to read it as we go along and mention the things that the Holy Spirit will bring to our attention.

The Time of Isaiah's Prophecy

We might say, before we begin the reading of the chapter, that there is some question in the minds of individuals as to who the Assyrian actually was that Isaiah had in mind as far as the day in which he lived was concerned. You will find a number of authorities being sure that the Assyrian was Tiglath-pileser and you will find other authorities who are just as certain that it was Sennacherib, because both Tiglath-pileser, and Sennacherib were vital enemies of the nation of Israel at the particular time of which we are thinking.

I would like to suggest to you that it doesn't make a great deal of difference, because we are studying a portion of the Word of God which is prophecy, prophecy as far as Isaiah was concerned in his immediate lifetime, and prophecy as far as we are concerned even in this particular hour. As far as the life of Isaiah was concerned, you will recognize that Isaiah, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had to look down a span of something like thirty years to write what he wrote. The things which we are going to read in this chapter were written in the reign of King Ahaz, but they were not fulfilled until the reign of King Hezekiah. Keep in mind that Ahaz reigned sixteen years, and the thing that we are thinking about occurred in the fourteenth year of the reign of king Hezekiah. You can see that Isaiah, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had to glance down through the corridors of time thirty years distant and write something that occurred thirty years from the time that he actually put it on the plates.

That provides a problem for people who do not believe in the inspiration of the Word of God. They say that the book of Isaiah was written by many different people. They believe it was written by individuals who lived in the day that it occurred. Therefore, it could not be the inspired Word of God.

I trust that before we are through with our discussion we will be able to see that Isaiah, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, looked down through the corridors of time, not only for a period of thirty years, but for a period of many more years than that—something over 2700 years, and how much longer we know not yet, for we know not the exact time that the Assyrian of whom Isaiah writes in this chapter will actually make his appearance.

A Rod In God's Hand

This of course, is by way of introduction, and you have to accept it at its face value until you are able to see these things with me in the Word of God. Look with me now at Isaiah, chapter 10, the paragraph which begins with verse 5:

Isaiah 10

5O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation.
6I 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.
7Howbeit 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.
8For he saith, Are not my princes altogether kings?
9Is not Calno as Carchemish? is not Hamath as Arpad? is not Samaria as Damascus?
10As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria;
11Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?

We will stop reading right there because these verses of Scripture emphasize for us one central fact, and that is that the Assyrian was a rod in the hand of God to accomplish His purpose against the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel was due to suffer under the chastening hand of God, and God said, in verse 5: “Oh Assyrian, the rod of my anger. You are my indignation against the nation of Israel.”

He also points out in that verse that the Assyrian, who was the rod in the hand of God, was also the staff in the hand of Judah. You will remember earlier in the book of Isaiah we have learned how Ahaz stripped all of the gold off of the temple so that its doors had to be closed and took all of the gold out of the treasuries of the temple and sent it to Tiglath-pileser as a bounty to guarantee that the Assyrian would come to their defense whenever he was needed. So, in one sense of the word, he was a staff in the hand of the nation of Judah, and he was a rod in the hand of God as God was going to visit the nation of Israel with punishment.

The Boasting of the Assyrian

You have probably noticed, if you were paying close attention while we read these verses of Scripture that even though God said that he was a rod in His hand, according to verse 6, and He said that He would send him against the nation of Israel to take the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread down the nation like the mire of the street, the Assyrian himself had no idea that any such thing as that was occurring, for we read in verse 7:

Isaiah 10

7Howbeit 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 Assyrian, you see, in his own mind said, “I am going out on a conquering mission, and I'm going to conquer all the nations that are around here. I am going to do this, because I have in my mind to do it.”

In verses 8 and 9, he describes the nations around the nation of Israel, which he had conquered without a bit of trouble. It would be of no value to take our time to try to identify these nations. You can do that by placing them on the maps in the back of your Bibles, and it might be an interesting thing for you to do. He conquered one after another of them, and he had the heathen idea that the reason that he was able to conquer them was that their idols, their gods, were not as strong as the gods of the Assyrians, so he said, “Jerusalem will be no problem. Have I not conquered Samaria, and does not Jerusalem have the same idol [that was what he considered God to be] as Samaria? If I can conquer Samaria, then I can conquer Judah, and there will be no problem at all.”

Promised Punishment From God

However, the Assyrian was in for a big surprise, because God said, “This nation which I have used as a rod in my hand, I am going to lay down someday. When the time of punishment is over, I am going to lay the rod aside, and then I am going to punish this evil nation, which I have used as a rod, for its own sin.” That becomes evident in the next paragraph. If you will glance at verse 12, where we read:

Isaiah 10

12Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, [this is God speaking] I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.

“When I am through using him as a rod, then I will punish him, because of his glory and because of his proud look, because he dared to put Me on the same level as these idol gods, and because he left Me out of his thinking and thought that everything he did, he did by his own strength.”

Then God quotes some of the things that the Assyrian had said and some of the things that the Assyrian had thought. Look at verse 13, where the Assyrian said:

Isaiah 10

13For 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, [that is, I have changed the boundaries of nations] and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man:

You will notice the word man is in italics. That means that it is not in the original text, and the word that is translated valiant should be translated “strong bull.” What he is saying in this verse is, “I have put down the inhabitants of the land as a strong bull. I have done all this.”

Then he changes the figure of speech in verse 14, and he said:

Isaiah 10

14And 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.

God's Opinion of the Assyrian

He pictures himself as going through the whole world like a gigantic net, gathering eggs, and the farmer doesn't object, and the fowls do not object. He does exactly as he pleases, and nobody can withstand him. He is full of himself, but in verse 15, God gives you His opinion of the matter. He says, “How ridiculous can you get when you are little mortal man who stands in the face of God and boasts and brags about what you have done?” God says to him, and He says to all of us who are filled with pride:

Isaiah 10

15Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?…

Get the picture. Here is an ax. It might be two-bladed. It might be sharp, but it is pretty foolish for that ax to go around saying, “I cut down a tree,” isn't it? If there hadn't been a man on the other end of the ax, the tree wouldn't have been cut down. He said:

Isaiah 10

15…shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?…

Here is a saw. It cuts a piece of timber. That saw would be pretty foolish to go around bragging about cutting up a piece of wood. It couldn't have done it. We are speaking about an ordinary saw. If there hadn't been a man on the end of the saw to push it back and forth, it could not have done it.

Then, you will notice, He said: “Why, you Assyrian, in your boasting and your bragging, it is as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up. It is as if the rod would turn against the man that holds the rod, and begin to beat the man over the head. It is as if the staff should lift itself up, as if it were not wood.” In other words, it is as though the staff would say to the man who leans upon it, “I'm going to lean on you a lot. I have held you up, now you are going to hold me up.”

Ridiculous! Certainly it is ridiculous! In God's sight, it is just as ridiculous for a nation or for an individual to say that they have done what they have done in their own strength. When the nation of Assyria conquered one nation after another and completely laid waste the nation of Israel and was boasting and bragging about what she had done, God said, “You're silly. You couldn't have done it if I hadn't permitted you to do it.”

Since in the studies in the book of Isaiah we are making applications to current truths, may our own hearts be humbled as a nation today, when we remember that what we are God has permitted us to be. In a moment, in less time than it would take me to tell it, God could turn on us in punishment, just as certainly as He did the Assyrians.

Punishment Visited On the Assyrian

The punishment which He visited upon the Assyrian is found in the next few verses. If you will glance there at verse 16, and read:

Isaiah 10

16Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; [that is, among the fat ones in Assyria] and under his glory [the glory of the Assyrian] he shall kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.
17And 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;

God, who is a consuming fire, shall light a fire beneath the Assyrians that will consume them in one day. If you are thinking about the fulfillment of this in the days of Isaiah, I would suggest that you read this story as it is recorded in II Kings, and see how in one night, God destroyed the army of Sennacherib, this mighty Assyrian who boasted about all he could do.

In verse 18, God said:

Isaiah 10

18And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth.

That is a significant phrase. It doesn't mean very much to us, but in the day in which Isaiah was writing, they chose the strongest, most stalwart man they had to be the flag-bearer, and he was always at a vantage point where everybody in the army could see him, and he would stand when all others failed. When the standard-bearer fainted, hope was gone. God uses that figure of speech here, and says, “When I am through with the Assyrians, it shall be as when the standard-bearer fainteth.”

Then He continues in verse 19, by saying:

Isaiah 10

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

Of course, He is using trees here as a figure of speech—trees to represent people. Here again is another local custom that we may not understand without a word of explanation. Following every army in that day was a census taker. He wrote down the number of men who were killed in the battle, and he wrote down the number of those who were left. Sometimes it mounted into the thousands, and hundreds of thousands, but God said, “There will be so few left that a little child who can't count very high will be able to keep the records.” This is the way that God visits judgment upon the rod that at one time He used in His own hand.

God's Encouragement to the Remnant

If you will look at the paragraph that begins with verse 20, you will notice a word of encouragement to the believing remnant from the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is as a whole a hypocritical nation, just as America as a whole is a hypocritical nation. But in Israel there was a remnant, a small group who were willing to believe God, a small group who were willing to remain true to Him, and He had a word of encouragement for them. It begins in verse 20, where He said:

Isaiah 10

20And 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 [they will not put their trust in the Assyrian any more] ; but shall stay [that is, they shall trust] upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

Isn't it sad that we have to pay such a huge price before we learn whom to trust? I can't help but wonder as we make comparisons, nation for nation, how much greater price are we going to have to pay before we learn in whom to put our trust. Look at verse 21:

Isaiah 10

21The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
22For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption [full end] decreed shall overflow with righteousness [the idea is that the full end of the nation, with only a small remnant left, shall be made according to the righteousness of God] .
23For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make consumption [full end] , even determined, in the midst of all the land.

These were words of encouragement offered to the nation of Israel, that she might not give up hope in the midst of her troubles. Look at verse 24:

Isaiah 10

24Therefore 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.
25For yet a very little while, and the indignation shall cease, and mine anger in their destruction.
26And 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.
27And 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.

What is God saying in this paragraph? “Don't be afraid of the Assyrian. His persecution is not going to last forever. The time of indignation will be over by and by, and as God delivered you out of Egypt, as He defeated your enemies at the rock of Oreb, so will God defeat the Assyrian in your behalf. He will be destroyed, because of the anointing—because of the eternal plan, and purpose of God. But before the deliverance must come the judgment.”

Intervention By God

In the paragraph beginning with verse 28, continuing through verse 32, there is a vivid description of the advance of the Assyrian army to the city of Jerusalem. If we had a map we would notice that it is an advance from the northeast to the southeast to the city of Jerusalem, and we would notice that it is an advance that finds absolutely no hindrance until it stands outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem, and then and only then is there intervention. Look at verse 28:

Isaiah 10

28He [the Assyrian] is come to Aiath, he is passed to Migron; at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages [tools of war that can not be carried] :
29They are gone over the passage: they have taken up their lodging at Geba; [as the approaching armies become increasingly evident, notice the reaction of the people] Ramah is afraid; Gibeah of Saul is fled [where Saul made his headquarters has taken up flight and run away] .
30Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim: cause it to be heard unto Laish, O poor Anathoth [one nation after another cries out in fear as the Assyrian makes his approach] .
31Madmenah is removed; the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.
32As yet shall he [the Assyrian] remain at Nob that day: he shall shake his hand against the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.

That is as far as he is going to get, because in verse 33, the Lord is going to intervene according to promise, and so we read:

Isaiah 10

33Behold, 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.
34And he shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fall by a mighty one.

God intervenes and He compares the armies of the Assyrian to a mighty forest, and He lops off the boughs of the topmost tree. He cuts down the mighty cedars of Lebanon until all is flat before him.

Prophecy Yet to Be Fulfilled

This is what we have read, and if you are familiar with Hebrew history, you know that much of this was never fulfilled. You will know, for example, that this advance from the northeast to the southeast that we have just been reading about was not made by Sennacherib. It was not made by Tiglath-pileser. It was not made by any known Assyrian who advanced against the nation of Israel, and we have a problem, for we find something in the Word of God that couldn't be true, because it's never happened. I say we have a problem. We don't if we believe in the inspiration of the Word of God. If we are willing to follow what I suggested, we must keep in mind when we study the book of Isaiah—namely, the law of double reference—we have no problem, for we realize that the Assyrian that Isaiah was talking about, who was alive in the days of Ahaz and Hezekiah, was but a symbol of a greater enemy of Israel who will make his appearance at the end of the age, and from whom God in His mercy and grace will deliver His chosen people. This Assyrian is called by something like sixty different names in the Bible. The more familiar ones are: The Beast, Wicked One, the Antichrist, and the Assyrian.

You may say, “The law of double reference? How do you know that Isaiah had in mind by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, something that went beyond his day?” Let me point out some phrases to you in this chapter, scattered throughout the entire paragraph that will help you to notice it with me. Glance at verse 12 once again:

Isaiah 10

12Wherefore 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.

God is not through with the nation of Israel yet. She is still suffering under the hand of God, and the Bible teaches that when He has gathered together the nation of Israel back in the land of Palestine, as they have begun to gather at the present moment, they will enter a period of time known in the Bible as the Tribulation . When they enter into that period of time, they will suffer as the nation has never suffered in all its history. When God has performed His whole work upon them, iniquity will be purged and the nation will never again look to anyone but God. As the Bible said, “All of Israel shall be saved.”

Look at verse 13:

Isaiah 10

13For he [the Assyrian] saith, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent: [notice now] and I have removed the boundaries of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man [strong bull] :
14And my hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathereth eggs that are left, [notice] have I gathered all the earth…

Do you remember reading in verses 7-9 that the Assyrian who lived in Isaiah's day had about six nations he planned to conquer and that was all? But the Assyrian who is the final object of the prophetic Word was not going to be content with conquering six nations. He was going to move the boundaries of the nations of the earth until the whole earth was under his control.

The Appearance of the Antichrist

Those of you who are familiar with the prophetic Word know that when the Antichrist makes his appearance and he is in full-fledged power, there will not be the Big Five and the Big Four. There will not be the Iron Curtain and the Bamboo Curtain. There will be the Big Ten. This earth of ours will be divided into ten divisions, and those ten divisions will give all of their power to the Antichrist, and he will rule the whole earth, so that boundaries will mean absolutely nothing. It won't be a matter of nationality any more; it will be a matter of universality. You will not be proud that you are an American in that day. You will be proud that you are an earthling. Boundaries will be dispelled, and national interests will be gone.

As we endeavor to make another application of truth, may I remind you that that is the reason I fear any suggestion by any individual or any group that we should surrender any of our national interests to any world force, whether it be the United Nations or something else. I believe that what you are seeing in the history of the world today is the preparation of the minds of men to surrender all of their interests to the Assyrian when he makes his final, complete appearance.

Notice verse 20:

Isaiah 10

20And 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.

Notice the phrase, “in that day.” Do you remember when we were studying the second chapter, we learned that the phrase, “in that day,” was a prophetic phrase which refers to the period of time that is coming at the end of this age? It has not occurred yet, but will be known as the Tribulation , the Day of Jacob's Trouble , the Great Day of God , the Day of the Wrath of God the Almighty . This indicates that the Assyrian in this paragraph is referring not to the Assyrian of Isaiah's day, but the Assyrian of yet another day.

God's Deliverance of Israel

If you are familiar with the book of Romans, you will remember that the Apostle Paul quoted what is found in the paragraph that begins with verse 20 and concludes with verse 22 and made it a reference to the day when the nation of Israel as a nation will turn to God and acknowledge their sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. Someone says, “Wait a minute. Surely you are not bigoted enough to think that the Jews crucified Christ.” In view of the recent pronouncements of the ecumenical movements of this land, yes. I haven't changed. I haven't changed because the Bible hasn't changed. I'm not anti-semitic. I am Bible-believing, and the Bible lays the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ at the door of the Jewish nation, and it will lie there until the nation acknowledges their sin before God. When they do, God will provide their deliverance from the hand of the Assyrian about whom we have been thinking today.

Look at verse 23:

Isaiah 10

23For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption [full end] , even determined, in the midst of all the land.

That phrase should be translated, “in the midst of all the earth.” It is a reference to the land of Palestine, which is the very navel of the earth—the very middle of the earth. It is where the last great battle this world will see will be fought. That is the reason the focus of the world is shifting to the Middle East. Time is running out, and God is setting the stage, and it won't be long until other places in the world which have been the source of irritation will cease to be the source of irritation and the Middle East will be the place where you will need to focus your eyes and plan your protection, because it will be in the middle of the earth that the Assyrian will take his stand before God.

Look at verse 25:

Isaiah 10

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

Look at the word indignation . It is a word that is used consistently in this manner throughout the Word of God to describe that period of time that is going to come upon the earth about which we have already thought—the Tribulation, the time of Jacob's trouble, the time when the Assyrian will make his appearance and make a full end of all things.

What's going to happen? I believe that in the last paragraph of chapter 10, you have described for you the march of the Antichrist, as he gathers all the armies of the world against the city of Jerusalem at the end of this age. He comes from the north to the south toward the city, and one city after another trembles as the tramping feet of the armies march onward. He stops at Oreb outside the city of Jerusalem ready to make his last attack upon the city.

What happens? Thank God for our hope. The heavens will open, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself shall return from Heaven with another army riding upon white horses and will completely annihilate the armies of the Antichrist and will cast the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the lake of fire. He will cleanse the earth and a reign of righteousness will begin.

If you think that I am overdrawing the picture, I would like for you to be with us in our next lesson, because chapter 11 describes the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth. It describes the kingdom of righteousness that our Lord someday will establish.

The Assyrian existed in Isaiah's day, and Isaiah made a prophecy about him that was fulfilled some thirty years after he made it. The Assyrian was not only in the mind of Isaiah related to his own day; by the inspiration of the Spirit of God, he was speaking of one who was yet to make his appearance. Time does not matter with God. If God could inspire a man to speak of something that was going to happen thirty years in the future, He could inspire a man to speak of something that was going to happen 2700 years or more in the future, because when Isaiah made this prophecy it was 700 years before Christ, and it won't be long until it will be 2000 years since the year of our Lord. Twenty-seven hundred years is no different than thirty years. If God made a prophecy that could be fulfilled in thirty years, He can make a prophecy that will be fulfilled in 3000 years.

Conclusion

I speak to you with confidence. This person of whom I speak is going to make his appearance, and the stage is being set for him, and the only deliverance is in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ. Have you placed your faith and trust in Him? Is He the One upon whom you are leaning? Is He the One in whom you are trusting?

I would remind you that if you have placed your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, God in His mercy and grace has promised to take you out of this world before the Assyrian gets full control. But, if you haven't placed your faith and trust in Him, you will be left here to endure whatever He has in store for you. It couldn't be pleasant.

I suggest to you that you examine your relationship to Jesus Christ. If you have never placed your faith and your trust in Him, place your faith and your trust in Him now.


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