Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Boasting Axe

Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! (Isaiah 10:15)

The word pictures in the words of the Lord here are utterly ridiculous! Obviously a tool can't claim that it's doing the work, rather than the labourer who is using the tool. Yet this was exactly what was happening in the case of the Assyrian king.

You see, Assyria was one of the world superpowers of its day. It was the USA of the ancient world. Like the height of the British Empire, Assyria had conquered nations around it. And now, Assyria had Jerusalem in its sights. Because of its success, it was boastful and proud:

'By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.' (10:13-14)

For the troubled people of Jersualem, Isaiah's words provide hope, looking beyond the visible to see the invisible realm of God's power. Assyria may seem all-powerful, but God is the power behind the throne. God controls even the hostile powers, to further his purposes.

Assyria is 'the rod of my anger' and it carries out God's righteous judgement against the nations, and even against God's people. Yet Assyria itself will be judged, as God promises his people:

'O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike you with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction.' (10:24-25)

God is king over all nations. Not the axe, but the one who wields the axe.

No comments:

Post a Comment