Isaiah: Prince of Prophets—"The Sovereignty of God Over the Nations"

Notes & Transcripts

This passage of Scripture present Yahweh as the transcendent God who controls the destiny of all nations—not merely Israel. He creates history just as He created the cosmos. The victory of the Assyrians over the Hebrew tribes did not prove the superiority of her god’s over Yahweh. Nor did Judah’s defeat mean that Yahweh was inferior. The whole passage contrasts sovereignties: Assyria’s and Yahweh’s

Guess who’s going to win.


    • "I send him against a godless nation, I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. But this is not what he intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations. ‘Are not my commanders all kings?’ he says. ‘Has not Calno fared like Carchemish? Is not Hamath like Arpad, and Samaria like Damascus? As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols, kingdoms whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria— shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images as I dealt with Samaria and her idols?’ ” (Isaiah 10:6-11, NIV)


            1. Israel’s judgement is God’s doing
                1. “I send” “I dispatch”
                    1. Assyria was going to be like a rod in God’s hand: He controlled her actions
                    2. He would send her to discipline godless Judah against whom God’s fury burned
                    3. at God’s discretion, Assyria would seize loot and snatch plunder
                    4. Assyria will trample down Judah like mud in the streets
            2. however, Assyria was in for woe herself
                1. Assyria does not acknowledge that she also is under the sovereign authority of God
                2. Assyria, in her pride, makes assumptions she should not
                    1. she boasts of the authority of her princes
                    2. she assumes that Judah is a nation like any other nation
                    3. she assumes that Yahweh is as impotent as the gods of the other nations she has conquered and subdued
                      • ILLUS. In 2 Kings 18 we have the account of King Sennacherib of Assyria coming up against ‘all the fortified cities of Judah’. Starting in the north, he seized city after city. He delivers an ultimatum to King Hezekiah. Hezekiah tries to placate Sennacherib by stripping all of the gold and silver from both his palace and the Temple and giving to him as a tribute. It doesn’t work and Sennacherib sends his army to surround Jerusalem. The generals of the Assyrian army stand before the walls of Jerusalem and shout out: Who do you think you are? Do you really think you can withstand our siege? Do you think that Egypt will come to your rescue? That ain’t gonna happen. You say that you’re just going to trust in your God? That won’t do you any good either! (2 Kings 18).
                3. then the generals address the soldiers and citizens of Judah lining Jerusalem’s walls
                  • "This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ ... Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” (2 Kings 18:29-30; 33-35, NIV)
                    1. the generals of Assyria assume that Israel’s God was as impotent as the gods of the other nations they had destroyed
            3. pride will be Assyria’s downfall


            1. when God finished using Assyria as His rod to punish Judah, He would punish Assyria for her arrogance and haughtiness
              • "When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes." (Isaiah 10:12, NIV)
                1. God has work to do in the lives of the citizens of Judah
                2. they have been a rebellious, faithless people and God is going to discipline them that they might return to Him
            2. when God is done with them, He will turn His attention toward Assyria
                1. in this verse we discover one of the great doctrinal truths of the Bible: God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are always in perfect balance in the Word of God
                    1. we may not always be able to reconcile the paradox of the two, but we can believe in both because the Bible teaches both
                    2. God is sovereign in His universe; and at the same time man is fully accountable to God for all his acts
            3. Assyria continues to boast that all her victories and accomplishment are the result of her own strength and intelligence
              • "For he says: “ ‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of 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 men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.’ ” (Isaiah 10:13-14, NIV)
                1. the Lord has granted Assyria’s rise to power
                    1. He permitted Assyria to enrich herself as he sent her on his holy mission to reduce those nations which had provoked his wrath
                    2. Assyria’s lust for power, however, is unbridled
                    3. Assyria is a tyrant and boasts of her victories over cities and nations
                    4. the boast displays an attitude of autonomy and evidences no fear of God
                      • ILLUS. Assyria’s attitude is like that of Little Jack Horner who sat in a corner, put his thumb in the pie, pulled out a plum, and said, “What a smart boy am I.”

C. GOD: THE OBJECT OF GLORY (vv. 10:15-19)

            1. by besieging Jerusalem, Assyria will be jumping from the frying pan into the fire
              • "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 man wastes away." (Isaiah 10:17-18, NIV)
            2. God is going to destroy the Assyrians as a fire destroys a forest
                1. in 701 B.C. the Assyrians besieged Jerusalem and God slew 185,000 of them in one night
                  • "Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there." (Isaiah 37:36-37, NIV)
                2. the destruction of the Assyrian army will be so complete that, according to v. 19 a child will be able to count the number that is left


            1. men and nations and governments are the tools of Providence
                1. he Assyrians are called the rod of God’s anger
                  • ILLUS. Imagine an axe out in the woods. You are walking through the woods and hear something patting itself on the back and saying, “Look at this big tree I cut down.” You walk over to the axe and find nothing but the axe. You say to the axe, “What do you mean, you cut down the tree?” The axe replies, “The tree is down, and I did it.” You say that is silly. Somebody had to be using the axe, and that is exactly how it was with Assyria and other nations of the world.
                2. God uses nations
                    1. that is the reason it is so important today for men in our nation to recognize God, men who look to God for leading and guidance
            2. men and nations and governments are to submit to God’s authority
              • ILLUS. God rules in the affairs of men. Napoleon, at the height of his career, is reported to have given this cynical answer to someone who asked if God was on the side of France: “God is on the side that has the heaviest artillery.” Then came the Battle of Waterloo, where Napoleon lost both the battle and his empire. Years later, in exile on the island of St. Helena, chastened and humbled, Napoleon is reported to have quoted the words of Thomas à Kempis: “Man proposes; God disposes.”
                1. this is the lesson with which history confronts us all
                2. God is able to work his sovereign will—despite man
            3. the wicked are quick to take credit for their successes—the righteous correctly give praise to God for their accomplishments
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