God’s Judgment of Unrepentant Israel a Lesson for Judah
The fourth stanza (see Isa. 9:8–10:4) is addressed to the people of Judah (10:1-4). In spite of the chastisement of Israel, Judah continued on its sinful course. In spite of the judgment of God on the Northern Kingdom, Judah did not turn away from injustice, oppression, and exploitation of the poor. As a result, Judah would feel God’s stern judgment at the hands of the Assyrians.
After Judgment Through Assyria, a Remnant to Be Restored
How did Isaiah picture the role of Assyria in God’s plan?
These verses contain an oracle against Assyria. Isaiah pictured Assyria in a two-fold light.
First, Isaiah pictured Assyria as a pawn in God’s hand, a mere instrument of His purpose. Assyria is pictured as being God’s “rod” and “staff” (compare to Psalm 23:4), instruments of discipline and correction. God sent Assyria to punish “a godless [alienated from God] nation” (10:6), that is, Judah. Notice the reference to the name of Isaiah’s son in verse 6.
Second, Isaiah pictured Assyria as a proud nation which did not see itself as an instrument of God’s judgment (10:7-11). Just as God punished the godless nation of Judah, so would He punish the arrogant nation of Assyria (10:12).
The arrogant attitude of Assyria is described in graphic terms in verses 13 and 14. Assyria boasted of plundering nations as easily and effortlessly as one might plunder eggs from an abandoned nest. Isaiah described such boasting as being as foolish as a tool boasting that it controlled its user (10:15).
The judgment that awaited Assyria (10:16-19) would be ignited by “the light of Israel” (10:17) or God Himself. The surviving Assyrian remnant would be so small that a child would be able to count them.
Who would survive the judgment of the Lord?
Isaiah declared that a remnant would survive the judgment of the Lord (10:21-22). Isaiah looked to a day when the surviving remnant would trust in the Lord rather than in foolish alliances (10:20). Recall that the name of Isaiah’s first son meant “a remnant shall return” (7:3).
Isaiah 10:24-27 assure Judah that they will survive the Assyrian threat. God would deal as decisively with the Assyrians as He did with the Midianites (see Judges 6-8). This hope was realized when “the angel of the Lord went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians” (see 2 Kings 19:35 and 2 Chronicles 32:21) and they withdrew from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 10:28-34 restates the threat of Assyria to Jerusalem. These verses describe the swift movement of the Assyrian army en route to Jerusalem’s doorstep (10:28-32) and the intervention of God on behalf of Jerusalem (10:33-34). While Assyria would be used by God to discipline His people, He would not permit them to do anything outside the scope of His purposes.