Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 28

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 28

We've been studying the judgment that will come upon Assyria for her treatment of the Hebrews and for the pride in the king's heart. His boasting in himself reminds me of a few years back when a comedienne went onstage to receive an award and said something like this, "Why are people getting up here and thanking Jesus for their awards? Jesus had nothing to do with it. I did all the work for this." Then she added an ugly expletive to the name of Jesus and concluded her speech. Jesus loves her and I pray she comes to know Him as the best friend anybody could ever have, but my point in telling this story is that none of us has done anything on our own. If God hadn't given us strength, we wouldn't have woken up this morning. He protected us through the night and kept our souls in this world. He gives us the ability to go about our daily lives, to take care of our homes and families, to work, to pursue hobbies. If not for the protective hand of God, none of us could take the next breath, much less accomplish anything else. The Lord is the One who deserves all the honor and thanks for everything we have because we have it only by His grace and mercy.

Assyria's king believes he has achieved mighty things through his own strength. He doesn't understand that his success on the battlefield is only because God has allowed it to chastise His wayward people. The king is nothing but an instrument in the hand of God, yet he boasts against the Lord. "For he says: 'By the strength of my hand have I done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of the nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings. As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as people gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.'" (Isaiah 10:13-14) In reading this passage we can't help putting emphasis on the word "I" because that's probably how the king said it, "I am brilliant, I am strong, I have conquered nations and taken their kings captive to serve me. It was as easy as taking candy from a baby."

But the great I Am has this to say about the king's pride, "Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up, or a club brandish the one who is not wood!" (Isaiah 10:15) God is saying, "King of Assyria, you could do nothing without Me. You've conquered kingdoms simply because you are the ax in My hand. You are merely an instrument of discipline that I will wield for a little while. You are powerless without Me."

Because the king will not humble himself and acknowledge the sovereignty of God, his day of downfall is coming. Then we will see who has the last word. "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." (Isaiah 10:16) This is fulfilled when King Sennacherib of Assyria sends a blasphemous and insulting letter to King Hezekiah about his intentions to come and overthrow Jerusalem. "That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp." (2 Kings 19:35a)

God is going to humble the king and the nation who will not humble themselves before Him. "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. The splendor of his forests and fertile fields it will completely destroy, as when a sick person wastes away. And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few that a child could write them down." (Isaiah 10:17-19) A strong nation by the name of Babylon will arise and lay waste to Assyria's capitol, to all the fine government buildings, to the palace and the mansions of the officials, to the pagan temples, to the world's first known library at Nineveh and all the cultural centers of their society. Babylon will burn through the land like a wildfire, consuming everything in its path. Where then is the power of Assyria's king, the one who boasted no king and no god could stand in his way? The new ax in the Lord's hand will be King Nebuchadnezzar and he will chop down Assyria as a man chops down a tree.

I confess to all of you and to the Lord that I've been prideful. There are days when I've taken the wrong type of enjoyment in my abilities and accomplishments as if I had anything to do with them. At times I've delighted in them as if they weren't achieved solely through the power of the Lord. I've thought more of myself than I should instead of seeing myself as the broken beggar I truly am, not realizing all my righteous acts "are like filthy rags". (Isaiah 64:6) Even at our best, we humans are nothing to brag about. If we boast in anything, it should be as the Apostle Paul boasted, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Galatians 6:14) Amen, Lord! We have nothing without You! You formed us out of the dust with Your own hands and apart from You we can do nothing. May our boast be only in the cross of Christ, in His awesome work of redemption, in the glorious liberty we have in Him. He alone is worthy of honor and praise. We bless the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor and glory and power forever. Amen.

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