What does Isaiah 10:20 mean?
ESV: In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
NIV: In that day the remnant of Israel, the survivors of Jacob, will no longer rely on him who struck them down but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.
NASB: Now on that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will no longer rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
CSB: On that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no longer depend on the one who struck them, but they will faithfully depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
NLT: In that day the remnant left in Israel, the survivors in the house of Jacob, will no longer depend on allies who seek to destroy them. But they will faithfully trust the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
KJV: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
The chapter continues to move between descriptions of God's judgment on His people Israel and His mercy. On the one hand, the Lord will soon make use of the Assyrians to bring terrible judgment upon Israel and Judah. On the other hand, the Lord will not wipe His people out. He will preserve a remnant. And those left will finally trust in Him to take care of them.
There are two events, then in the future when Isaiah wrote, to which he may be referring. In 701 BC, the Assyrians will have Jerusalem in a siege. Things will look hopeless for the survivors of the Lord's people locked inside the gates of the City of David. The Lord will save them. by sending the angel of the Lord to strike 185,000 Assyrians dead in one night (2 Kings 19:35). Much later, a remnant of God's people will return to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon.
Isaiah writes that the house of Jacob will no longer rely on the one who "struck them." He may be referring to the fact that King Ahaz attempted to make an alliance with Assyria to find safety from his other enemies (2 Kings 16:7–10). Hosea describes Ephraim's foolishness in trying to rely on foreign nations, like Egypt and Assyria, to protect Israel instead of the Lord (Hosea 7:11).
The other possible event in mind may be the return of Israel from exile, as described in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. A further event, future to both Isaiah and ourselves, is when the remnant of Israel will once again lean on the Holy One of Israel. This is a reference to the end times. Though few will remain in this time, God's people will once more trust Him and Him alone. Isaiah adds the words "in truth" to show that this trust in the Lord will not be meaningless ritual, but true faith.
Isaiah 10:20–34 describes the remnant that will be saved in Israel and who will reestablish trust in the Lord. Only these few will be saved, and the Lord's destruction will come. The Lord, though, urges His people not to fear the Assyrians. His anger will soon turn from Israel to Assyria's direction. He will use His supernatural power to end Assyria's oppression over Israel. Even if a great Assyrian army marches all the way to the edge of Jerusalem, the Lord will cut them down as a forest.
Isaiah declares woe on those in Israel and Judah who use the law to take advantage of the poor. These people will not escape the Lord's judgment. He next describes the Assyrians as the Lord's staff of judgment against the godless nation that is His people. When He is done punishing His people, the Lord will turn His anger on the Assyrians, nearly destroying them. Eventually, a remnant of Israelites will return to faith in the Lord. Destruction will come, but it will not consume everything. The Lord will triumph over Assyria.
Isaiah 10 follows prophecies about God's judgment on Israel for the nation's sins. It begins pronouncing sorrow for those who oppress the poor and needy. He also declares woe on the Assyrians, whom the Lord is using to judge His people Israel. Soon, the Lord will direct His anger against the Assyrians for the arrogance of their king. He will burn them down as a forest. A remnant of Israel will survive the Assyrian judgment and trust the Lord again. His anger will turn from Israel to Assyria. The Assyrian oppression of Israel will be ended.
Isaiah is among the most important prophetic books in the entire Bible. The first segment details God's impending judgment against ancient peoples for sin and idolatry (Isaiah 1—35). The second part of Isaiah briefly explains a failed assault on Jerusalem during the rule of Hezekiah (Isaiah 36—39). The final chapters predict Israel's rescue from Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 40—48), the promised Messiah (Isaiah 49—57), and the final glory of Jerusalem and God's people (Isaiah 58—66).
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