Pride has its fall – Wednesday, 15th Week in ordinary time – Isaiah 10:5-7,13-16
In Chapters 7-10:4, the Lord reveals how he would use the nation of Assyria as an instrument of judgment against Syria, Israel and Judah. The purpose of this judgment was primarily to bring the people to repentance (Isaiah 1:16-28). It was also intended to bring the northern kingdom of Israel (sometimes called Ephraim) to an end. The nation of Israel knew that God’s judgment was upon them when the Syrians and Philistines attacked them but they were indifferent. So arrogant were they that they boast how resilient they are. In Isaiah 9:10 onwards they say “The bricks are fallen down, (talking of their defeat) but we will build with dressed stones. The sycamores have been cut down but we will grow cedars in their place. Both their boasts speak of rising up stronger but in reality God will wipe them out.
To do this God will use the nation of Assyria (vs 5). They are to be the rod of God. The rod and the staff were sticks used by shepherds to guide and correct their sheep. Using this analogy, God is communicating his desire to use the nation of Assyria like a stick in His hand; a stick that will be used to correct Syria, Israel, and Judah. God would use an ungodly nation like Assyria against his people whose actions are as ungodly as Assyria. In this sense, Assyria was on a mission from God. They were doing God’s will. They were running His errands when they came against Syria, Israel, and Judah. God gave them permission (“I send him” verse 6) to seize the spoil, to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
Thus, the nation of Assyria is to be the intentional instrument of God’s judgment even though Assyria itself did not know that they were but an unintentional instrument. As the reading of today tells us, Assyria were unable to recognise themselves as instruments of God to carry out his judgment and began to think that they were an emerging super power. Assyria had such an inflated view of themselves that they regarded their princes to be on the level of the kings of other nations. Having conquered Israel, Assyria set its eyes upon Jerusalem. (10:9-10). In doing so Assyria went far beyond what the Lord had intended (Isaiah10:5-7) and was also punished by God.
The reading of today touches upon the arrogance of Assyria, this rising ‘superpower’. God had used this nation to punish his people Israel but Assyria now boasts that it will not only defeat Israel but also Judah and its capital Jerusalem. In their pride, the Assyrians thought the Lord GOD nothing more than one of the idols that they had conquered in Samaria or in many other cities. The Assyrians were in for a rude wake-up call. We know that this boast was punished by God. Verse 16 of today’s text tells us that the Sovereign, the LORD of hosts, sent sickness among Assyria’s powerful warriors. It was not the Assyrian who would finally punish the southern nation of Judah but the Babylonians who rise up between 605 and 686 B.C. to punish Judah (Habakkuk 1:6-11).
We must check ourselves. The posts and position we hold in this world are not earned by some merit of ours but given to us by God to be stewards and custodians. Pride has its fall. The Bible describes God’s opinion of the haughty. A haughty look, a proud heart, and the ploughing of the wicked are sin. (Proverbs 21:4) The one who has a haughty looks and a proud heart, him I will not endure (Psalm 101:5). For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks (Psalm 18:27).
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