What does Isaiah chapter 10 mean?Isaiah chapter 10 continues to progress through more prophecies regarding God's coming destruction of both Judah and Assyria.
First, the prophet declares woe on those in Judah and Israel who use the local laws to taking advantage of the poor and needy. Their intent is so deliberate that they write oppression into the civic code. This eliminates any possibility of justice for the poor, widows, and orphans. Instead of caring for them, these wealthy oppressors manipulate the law to take what little the poor have for themselves (Isaiah 10:1–2).
Isaiah asks how their wealth will help them when the Lord's judgment comes. These rich oppressors will find themselves either dead or crouching along with everyone else among those taken captive. In the end, their wealth will be worthless to save them from the Lord's coming wrath (Isaiah 10:3–4).
Next, he describes the Assyrian Empire and their war machine as the rod of the Lord's anger. The Lord is sending them against a godless nation. He is referring to His own people in Israel and Judah. God commands Assyria to attack and plunder His people. They are to pummel the people into the ground (Isaiah 10:5–6).
The Assyrian kings do not believe they are being used by the God of Israel. They believe they are self-directed and powerful enough to conquer one nation after another. After all, they have defeated the gods of all the nations in their path. This conquering path includes the northern ten tribes of Israel. The Assyrians see no difference in the God of Jerusalem. This will soon change (Isaiah 10:7–11).
What the Assyrians don't yet know, is that when the Lord is through using them as His own tool to judge His people, He will turn His punishment on them. The words of their arrogant king and the boastful attitude will not go unpunished. The Assyrian king proudly believes he has conquered all by the strength of his own hand. He thinks no one has even resisted him because of his own might (Isaiah 10:12–14).
Isaiah scoffs at the idea that Assyria's power is of its own doing. He compares them to an axe that brags over the one who uses it. Or a saw that believes it deserves the credit over the one wielding it. These tools are just tools. They do not have power over the one who operates them. To prove His point, the Lord will send a wasting disease into the armies of the Assyrians. He will be the flame that destroys their might, leaving only a tiny remnant standing (Isaiah 10:15–19).
When the day comes, a remnant will remain among the Israelites, as well. That remnant will no longer look for help from invading nations. They will lean on God for help. This remnant will be saved, but only this fraction of the people. The Lord will bring all the destruction He has warned about, and that judgment will be righteous (Isaiah 10:20–23).
However, the Lord urges His people not to fear the Assyrians. His anger will soon turn from Israel to the Assyrians. He will use His supernatural power to break the invaders oppression over Israel. Just as He has done for His people in times past (Isaiah 10:24–27).
The prophet Isaiah pictures a fast-moving invading army, likely of Assyrians, as they march from the north toward Jerusalem. They finally arrive outside of the city and shake their fists at the city of Jerusalem. Isaiah then pictures the Lord suddenly cutting down the tallest and most powerful trees, clearing the forest even of the cedars of Lebanon. Showing the people that there is no army too great or too powerful that the Lord cannot cut down (Isaiah 10:28–34).