Last time, we looked at the first four verses of Isaiah 10. They fall in the context of Isaiah 10:1-19 which focus mainly on God’s dealings with Assyria as He uses them to discipline and punish, His chosen people. God eventually called Assyria to account for their own behavior including going farther in punishing Israel than they should have. God is sovereign over every nation. The Jews were His chosen people not because they were special or that He loved them more than other people. Rather, they were chosen in the sense that they were His chosen instruments to broadcast His grace and mercy to the whole world.
In the current passage of Isaiah 10:15-19 God asks some pointed questions of His instrument at the time, the Assyrians. Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it,
Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood. 16 Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts, will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors; And under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame. 17 And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame,
And it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day. 18 And He will destroy the glory of his forest and of his fruitful garden, both soul and body, And it will be as when a sick man wastes away. 19 And the rest of the trees of his forest will be so small in number
That a child could write them down. (NASU) No doubt, you noticed that God did not wait for an answer from the Assyrians. He basically answered the question Himself through a simile and by declaring His sovereign inescapable response.
The Jews were God’s instrument to bless the whole world. Because of their failure, God used the Assyrians to chastise the Jews. As most humans do, the Assyrians’ pride led them down a dangerous path. First, God pointed out the folly of axe promoting itself over the one using the axe. He also used a similar example of a club or staff thinking it more important than him who brandished it. God continued the simile, by pointing out the impossibility of the wooden rod lifting the human who carried it. If these comparisons seem far-fetched or ridiculous, please note that they are nowhere near as incredible as any nation, including Assyria, or Israel, or the USA attempting to elevate itself over the Sovereign God of the Universe. If you think He is going to allow that, you had best think again. He will not.
Our text concludes with the solemn warning for the Assyrians and all who disregard the Lord. Their punishment will be severe. (By the way, history and the Bible record that God kept His promise and the Assyrians met a crushing defeat.) Furthermore, in verse 17, God makes clear that He will dramatically manifest Himself. Familiar and frequent descriptors (light of Israel and his Holy One) are used to identify Him and His glory. The majesty and power of God will absolutely destroy the instrument that tried to steal some of His glory (See Isaiah 42:8, 48:11, etc.). The destruction of the one who opposes God in such a way will be absolute. We should listen and heed the warning given to the Assyrians. We should consider the consequences to the Assyrians for failing to heed the warning.