The Assyrian

The Assyrian: The Rod of God's Anger – The Staff of God's Indignation – The Arrogant One

"Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger and the staff in whose hand is my indignation" (Isaiah 10:5).

This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. At the time the prophecy was given Hezekiah was king of Judah, the southern kingdom, and Isaiah was a prophet. The northern kingdom had by this stage gone into captivity. The king of Assyria, Sennacherib, was exerting his influence and increasing his control in the region as cities collapsed under his might and strength. Jerusalem lay before him; this was just another city to add to his many victories. He was unstoppable, or so he thought.

"Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands in any way able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed that could deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of my hand?" (2 Chronicles 32:13,14)

Sennacherib was a powerful leader; his successes, though, filled his heart with his own importance, so much so that his boasting placed him in direct confrontation with God, the Almighty – the God of Israel.

Hezekiah correctly assessed the situation and addressed his people: "'Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.' And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah" (2 Chronicles 32:7,8).

Sennacherib continued threatening and tormenting. He even equated the God of Israel with the gods of other nations – the work of men's hands that have mouths but cannot speak, ears that do not hear, and eyes that do not see. But Hezekiah led the people of God as a man appointed by God.

"King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valour, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there" (2 Chronicles 32:20,21).

Since Sennacherib failed to conquer Jerusalem and was sent scampering home shamefaced, he was not the King of Assyria prophesied about and recorded in the tenth chapter of the book of Isaiah. "Woe to Assyria, the rod of my anger and the staff in whose hand is my indignation" (Isaiah 10:5).

The context of chapter ten helps clarify the time as that period when the Lord will bring a conclusion to Jerusalem's transgression and wandering far from Him. " . . . when the LORD has performed all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem . . . "

Like Sennacherib before him, the future King of Assyria will be the Lord's timely instrument of chastisement – a rod and a staff. But unlike Sennacherib the future king of Assyria will succeed in causing much suffering in Israel. "I will send him against an ungodly nation and agsinst the people of my wrath I will give him charge, to seize the spoil, to take prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets" (Isiah 10:6).

The extent of the Assyrian's control over the Jewish people is emphasized in the promise of relief and hope for those who have been able to escape his clutches. " . . . the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them . . . " (Isaiah 10:20).

And the extent of his destructiveness is depicted by the prophecy: "For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them will return; the destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness" (Isaiah 10:22).

Though the Messiah of Israel will usher in His kingdom of righteousness by crushing the Assyrian, yet it will not be before the Assyrian causes much suffering and anguish.

Jeremiah also confirms the destrctive powers of the Assyrian, and his control over the Jewish people, as well as their timely deliverance. "'Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'that I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them'" (Jeremiah 30:7-9).

Daniel, of the tribe of Judah, saw the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and the beginning of this current period of Gentile control and domiation. He longed for his people and the holy city Jerusalem to be restored. The Lord revealed several prophecies to Daniel which gave further understanding to this Assyrian, and to the time when Israel and Jerusalem would be restored.

Daniel confirms Isaiah's prophecy, which tells us that, like his predecessor Sennacherib, the Assyrian will boast against the God of Israel: "He shall speak pompous words against the Most High . . . " (7:25).

Both Daniel and Jeremiah agree with Isaiah in warning that the Jewish people will suffer because of the Assyrian. " . . . (he) shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time" (Daniel 7:25).

Daniel also describes how the Assyrian will rise to power and prominence. "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a king shall arise having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty and also the holy people." He is undoubtedly a powerful figure in diplomacy, and a clever politician and ambassador.

"Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his hand and he shall magnify himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity. He shall even rise against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without human hand" (Daniel 8:23-25). The Messiah returning in power and glory will crush the Assyrian.

Notably in another significant prophecy Daniel reveals that the Assyrian will confirm an agreement already previously made with Israel for seven years, but after three and a half years he will break the agreement by doing something that will offend the Jewish people.

"He shall confirm a covenant with many for one seven; but in the middle of the seven he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations he shall be the one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolator" (Daniel 9:27).

The significance of this prophecy is highlighted by the fact that Israel today is already in the process of negotiating peace and security, and particularly making agreements with powerful and persuasive world leaders.

Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah confirm that the Assyrian, whilst appearing to succeed in the controlling and governing Israel, will be overwhelmed and be destroyed by the coming of the Lord.

"Therefore thus says the LORD GOD of hosts: 'O my people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. He shall strike you with a rod and lift up his staff against you, in the manner of Egypt. For yet a very little while and the indignation will cease, as will my anger in their destruction'" (Isaiah 10:24,25).

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria during the days of King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, was in some respects a forerunner to the future Assyrian leader. There are two significant differences however.

Where Sennacherib failed to capture Jerusalem and take a spoil, the future Assyrian will succeed. He will constrict Israel, as did Pharaoh when they were in Egypt, which also resulted in much suffering for the Jewish people. The other significant difference is that the transgression and iniquity of Jerusalem will cease, and this will culminate in the deliverance of the Jewish people and their redemption. True and lasting peace and security will be ushered in as the King Messiah establishes His Kingdom.

"And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend on him who defeated them, but will depend on the LORd, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God" (Isaiah 10:20,21).

Meanwhile, today is the day of salvation for all who believe in Yeshua (Jesus), the Hope of Israel, whom God has raised out of the grave to be Prince and Saviour.

"Then Yeshua (Jesus) spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life'" (Yochanan(John) 8:12).