God may have been angry with Israel, and He may have wanted them to learn a lesson, but they were still His children and God wouldn’t allow anyone to destroy them. So God set His wrath toward Assyria and sent a judgment of wasting sickness down to them.
God uses all kinds of people. He uses the ones who follow Him faithfully. He uses people who curse His name. He uses agnostics, atheists and Satanists. He is God. He can use whomever He chooses and He does. He used Assyria even though their sins were greater than the sins of Israel. (Verses 10-11).
Just because He uses a person doesn’t mean He will not require them to pay for their sins, and it doesn’t mean they will escape punishment. The Father doesn’t like it when you mess with His children. He will punish the people who try to destroy us. (2 Thessalonians 1:6).
It is wonderful to be used by God, but be careful and remember who the Creator is, remember where the power comes from, remember who God is and who the vessel is. Arrogance and pride are dangerous. They will take your eyes off Jesus and put them onto yourself and you won’t even be aware of it. Pride makes it highly unlikely that you would submit to your Lord. Arrogance makes it practically impossible to realize your sin and repent.
Verse 15 reads,
“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!”
When God uses you, it is really exciting and wonderful. But you have to remember it is God, not you. With God all things are possible, without Him what is the point? When you pray with a person and God speaks into their life, it is God not you. God spoke the truth and He used your mouth, hands, and faith. When you pray with a person to be healed, it is The Holy Spirit, God our Healer who does the healing, you only spoke, and you only exercised your faith. That faith is faith that He gave you. You could do none of it without Him. It is an amazing privilege to serve God. It is freeing, and wonderful, and powerful. It is all due to Jesus’ Blood, The Father’s Love, and The Spirit’s Power. You submitted, you gave permission. That’s all.
So God struck down arrogant Assyria with a wasting sickness that would not only destroy them but shame them as it did. The enemy of God’s people is His enemy. (Exodus 23:22). You do not want to be an enemy of God. One way to make yourself His enemy is to take credit for His work, like Assyria did.
But God didn’t forsake Israel. Israel is His chosen people. He made a promise to her saying, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” (Leviticus 26:12). He promised you as well, Believer. He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b). And so He would leave a remnant of Israel and they will have learned who God is.
Verses 20-23 read,
“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.21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.”
What that says is this; Out of what was once a vast nation a few ragtag survivors will return finally ready to stop depending on Assyria and once again lean on their Lord, the Holy One of Israel. They will do it sincerely. The destruction was one that brought about righteousness and goodness. It wasn’t the beating of an abusive dad to a child. It was the discipline of a loving Father for His child to bring about good character. One day, God will do the same all over the world. One day His discipline will be complete and the righteous will be complete in Him.
The chapter finishes with God encouraging the remnant who take seriously His authority and strive for obedience that Assyria will be punished and their suffering will soon end. You too can take that encouragement to heart. You have the hope of eternity. One day soon, God will bring His judgment down on everyone. Each and every person will have to face Him and payment will be made. If you are a Believer, then Jesus already made propitiation for your sin. You will have your yoke lifted and your suffering will be over.