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In the face of human pride and arrogance, Christian leaders accurately reflect God’s truth about pride. They say:
— C. S. Lewis – “Pride is the sin that made the devil the devil.”
— William Law – “Pride must die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”
— Andrew Murray – “As much as you have of pride within you, so you have a fallen angel alive in you. As much as you have of true humility, so you have the Lamb of God within you.”
In Isaiah’s day, both God’s people and their enemies were proud and arrogant people, who preferred their thinking to trust in God.
Proud People Humbled
When we turn from God and rely on someone or something else, they may turn on us and bring destruction.
Carl Menninger, the famous psychiatrist from Kansas, said the addict is like someone whose coat is on fire. They jump into 100-feet of water to put out the fire but don’t know how to swim.
The same story could be told of the person who trusts their bank account for security, or desires praise from people for genuine self-worth. They are bound to fail us.
No matter what happens in our lives, God is Supreme and he is the One to be trusted. If we ignore him, it is to our peril.
The verses below are addressed to God’s people. They turned away from God and placed their trust in foreign countries that were no help at all.
In a shocking statement, God described the enemy of Israel as his “tool” of discipline.
Also, he calls his people “a godless nation,” because they behaved as if there were no God.
Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger—
the club in their hands is my fury!
Against a godless nation I send him,
and against the people of my wrath I command him,
to take spoil and seize plunder,
and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. (Isaiah 10.5-6)
If your reading diet consists of positive sayings from the Bible in devotional literature, these words may sound very harsh.
In today’s YouTube video that Rudy Ross and I produce, he states his belief that God’s judgment in the Old Testament era was his way of providing “guard rails” for civilization.
If the pride, arrogance, and oppression of the 700s B.C. had continued unchecked, there may be no civilization at all today.
God’s judgment may be his last resort to bring people back to living according to his principles.
God called Assyria to be his “tool” of discipline. However, the nation had no desire to serve. Instead, they wanted to crush and rule.
The following is Isaiah’s insight into the motives of the Assyrian nation.
But this is not what he intends,
nor does he have this in mind;
but it is in his heart to destroy,
and to cut off nations not a few. (Isaiah 10.7)
Assyria conquered one small kingdom after another. They attributed their success to their military might and to the gods they served.
The strange names in the next verses are small kingdoms that were conquered. In the final verses, they compare Jerusalem and the True and Living God with all of the other nations.
For he says:
“Are not my commanders all kings?
Is not Calno like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad?
Is not Samaria like Damascus?
As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols
whose images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria,
Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols
what I have done to Samaria and her images?” (Isaiah 10.8-11)
There is a tremendous danger in the attitude and behavior of the Assyrians. They were God’s instrument for his purposes. However, they became extremely proud of their accomplishments.
Anyone who believes that what God has given them is a product of their abilities is walking in dangerous territory. The next message to the king of Assyria could also be true of that kind of person.
Assyria took the abilities that God grants to all humanity and used them to cruelly oppress nations. Few countries were as cruel and brutal as Assyria.
Isaiah declared God’s plan for proud Assyria: “When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride” (Isaiah 10.12).
Pride separates us from God and exalts our ability. Pride allows us to see other people as “less than” us and gives us a license to oppress them.
God knows better. His word is:
Shall the ax vaunt itself over the one who wields it,
or the saw magnify itself against the one who handles it?
As if a rod should raise the one who lifts it up,
or as if a staff should lift the one who is not wood! (Isaiah 10.15)
Charles Spurgeon was one of the greatest preachers of all time. He once said, “An arrow needs to be straight and have good feathers. However, when the arrow hits the target, we don’t praise the arrow, but the archer.”
The story of Israel and Assyria should drive home two significant points to us.
(1) There is no higher level of pride than to know God’s direction and choose to not follow it. When we do that, we tell God himself that we know better than he does.
(2) Another expression of pride is to take God’s gifts and act as if they are our abilities. Everything we have is a gift from God both to us and to those whom God desires to bless through us.
If we yield all that God has given to us to his purposes, both we and the world around us will be better off.
If we trust God to chart the direction of our lives, we will certainly reach the best life possible.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.