J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)
And now more particularly for the Assyrian.
The first general threat as judgment on Ahaz, Isaiah 7, is the Assyrian, verses 17 and 20. Immanuel is promised as the Hope of Israel, but the Assyrian is to come up - days, such as had never previously visited the people. In chapter 8 this is opened out. The Land is treated as Immanuel's, but, inasmuch as the people despise "the waters of Shiloah which go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son," the Assyrian reaches to the neck, and fills the breadth of Immanuel's land. And again the Remnant are called upon to trust in the Lord, who should be for a sanctuary, as for a stone of stumbling. Note also the way this identifies the Remnant, connected with Christ, and the whole history of the people of the Jews, and, with this, read Peter's first Epistle, chap. 2:8, and compare Isaiah 28, and again 1 Peter 3:14, 15. And clearly in the end of this prophecy, Isaiah 9:6, we have the Messiah, Christ, recognised by and in Israel on the throne of David, and the glory to come.
But these chapters are important as showing that the Assyrian is the grand enemy whom God has in view, as coming against Israel or Immanuel's land as such. There may be a confederacy with which His people are to have nothing to do, and a covenant with hell perhaps, but the Assyrian is the enemy and scourge, temporally, of the land and people. The rest who are not disciples, a believing Remnant, will be in the state of chapter 8:21. Further, it would seem clear that, though there has been a special accomplishment, as we have seen (but applied only to Jewish Christians, for the citations are Hebrews, and 1 Peter) yet that the Remnant are treated by Christ, according to the prophetic Spirit, which is the principle of His relationship with the Jews, until He be king (save that He is High Priest, hidden and unknown - like Moses on the mountain - now within the veil, while we know and are united to Him, the Church, the veil being rent, but upon their hearts). But the Remnant are treated, in that day, as His disciples, and the children, which God has given Him, for signs and wonders to both the houses of Israel. And while we have, as above, much higher privileges, and the Christian Jewish Remnant, also, still the passages could be applied to them, as being in a place which the latter-day Remnant will decidedly have also, in which God will view them also, though if losing life here by suffering, surely to be rewarded with it then.
65 But it is evident this prophecy takes in the whole, from the failure of the house of David in Ahaz, across Christianity owned as a Jewish Remnant, or a Jewish Remnant treated as Christ's disciples, on to the time when Christ is owned publicly by, and as born to, the Jewish nation. The law and the testimony is the rule, also remark, though amongst His disciples. Christ is the answer to the Assyrian. Chapter 6 to 9:7, is all in parenthesis, chapter 6 being the judgment on the people in connection with the Lord's glory morally, and chapters 7, 8, and part of 9, the circumstances connected with the Land - promises, the house of David, and its results. Note also chapter 8:9, supposes the assembling of all the peoples.
In general, the present judgment is at the end of chapter 5. They have despised the law and the testimony, the Lord has smitten them, but this would not do, and He has brought the nations upon them. In general, verse 30 presents the condition specially set out at the end in chapter 8:21, 22, etc. But it is resumed in detail in chapter 9:8, and the history of the stretched-out arm begun with the nations, who commenced their inroads, though the house of David was there, Syrians, Philistines, etc., and all this is pursued again to the Assyrian.
Chapter 10. Up to this His anger is not turned away. But now the Assyrian is "the rod of his anger" (umatteh-hu, and it is a staff), i.e., "the staff that is in their hand which is mine indignation," or "the staff is in their hand, mine indignation." The hu (it) is demonstrative, including the mat (staff) substantive. God sends him against an hypocritical nation, but he boasts himself against Him that hews therewith, and the Lord judges him. Israel leans no more upon him that smote him. The Remnant returns to God (again applied, in Romans, to the Remnant of Israel of that day because they took the character of Remnant then fully). The people that dwelt in Zion were "not to be afraid of the Assyrian," though he lifted up his rod after the manner of Egypt (to wit at the Red Sea, I apprehend) but the indignation ceases, and the Lord's anger in their destruction. God's rod shall be upon him, after the manner of Egypt, too.
We have here, certainly, the last days, see verses 20, 21. At the same time an inroad of the Assyrian, of which God's people, which dwells in Zion is not to be afraid, and which is terminated by a judgment on the Assyrian, in which the indignation is closed, for he had been the instrument of it. He uses His rod and His staff. In chapter 14, the Lord will yet "have mercy on Jacob." Jacob will have rest, triumph over Babylon, and her king fallen and destroyed. And the Lord will break the Assyrian in His land and on His mountains, that is the purpose purposed on all nations. Compare with this, Nahum 1:11, 14, specially for the identification, verse 13, and note the final character of this judgment, verses 12, 14 and 9, and also 5, 6, 7 and 8. We see how great and general the day is, though the Assyrian be finally the actor in it.
66 In general, it is the inroad threatened of God, but associated with or preceded by the nations coming up. But at the time that God shows Himself in favour of His people, though he reached even to the neck, it was the character of the Assyrian's inroad, historically, and typically, for in the threats we have read, it is identified with the final deliverance and the ending of the indignation. In Micah, we have a positive application of this to the Lord Jesus. In chapter 5:4, 5, etc., after speaking of Babylon first, as in Isaiah 14, and spoken of the many nations who are now gathered against Zion, but whom the Lord gathers together as sheaves to the threshing-floor, the Assyrian is singled out, and put in relief; and, showing what had happened to Christ, and how they had been given up in consequence, so that we can have no doubt of its going beyond an historical statement as to Hezekiah. He is the Peace, when the Assyrian comes into the land; and study verse 4. Further the land of the Assyrian is itself attacked and wasted by the leaders of Israel.
We have then to consider Isaiah 28 and following chapters, which open much of the details of this subject. First, in chapter 28, we have Ephraim overflown, but "scornful men" dwelling at Jerusalem, who have "a covenant with death and hell." But they would be trodden down by "the scourge." It is perfectly clear this is not Hezekiah, for the circumstances are the contrary. Chapter 29, God "encamps against Ariel." There are mounts and forts (which Sennacherib was not allowed to make; see Isaiah 37:33) but the multitude of the strangers would be as small dust and chaff, and, of the nations that distress Ariel, as a "dream of a night vision." God visits from Heaven.
The same general truth is in Micah, only there Zion arises and threshes. Yet, at this time, there is entire incapacity to know the mind of the Lord, or to understand the revelation He had given. Therefore He confounds the wise, and delivers Himself. Here, therefore, we have again the multitude of nations come up against Zion. The sure foundation having been laid there, and he that believeth not making haste, and complete and final deliverance would then be afforded. Jacob would no more wax thin.
67 Hitherto we have only had the multitude of nations, and the condition of Israel - Ephraim overwhelmed - Jerusalem in the hands of scornful men - and the scourge passes through - none that understands, save the Remnant always who believe in the Stone laid in Zion, quod nota.
In chapter 30, they go down for help into Egypt, and after the promise of all deliverance from the Lord, at the close of the most dismal circumstances and rebellion. It is "the Name of the Lord coming from far," to sift the nations, etc. And the Lord's glorious voice shall be heard, and the Assyrian is beaten down who smote with a rod, for the Lord's rod is upon him, as in chapter 10:24-26. In chapter 31 they go down to Egypt - in chapter 30 it was rather their state of mind, and the counsel they took - here, the act. But all this shall fail - helpers and holpen - and the Lord shall be like a lion surrounded by shepherds. And then shall the Assyrian fall, the Lord's fire being in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem purifying the people, but consuming the enemies. Hereupon, in chapter 33, which seems to speak, but not definitely, of the same enemy (the nations are there) we have Zion delivered, and in chapter 39 the nations summoned, and a sacrifice offered in Idumaea, and all the chiefs brought down; compare chapter 63. It is not said that the Assyrian is there, but though he falls, he is said to flee from before Zion. If it be the Northern army, of Joel, he is driven eastward. All nations there, also, are gathered in connection with the Northern army. The same general truth of all nations is found in Zechariah and Zephaniah.
We have yet Psalm 83, where we find Edom and others - Assur joined to cut off Israel from being a nation. In Zephaniah, of which there may have been a partial fulfilment in the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar, we find Assur destroyed, and Nineveh wasted, but this is in that land.
It remains to be enquired if the king of the North, of Daniel 11, be the Assyrian. He will plant his tabernacle, after conquering Egypt, in Jerusalem, on tidings from east and north, and come to his end, none helping.
68 "Tophet is ordained of old." Speaking of the Assyrian, and the king also, they seemed, in general, to be judged together, i.e., nearly at the same time, and in the great uproar of nations, which the Lord quells. Compare, also Isaiah 21 and 22, where, after the taking of Babylon by Elam and Media, the daughter of His people also is spoiled, Elam bearing the quiver and Kir uncovering the shield, when the key of the house of David is laid on Hilkiah's shoulder, to be a glorious throne to His Father's house.
Isaiah 7, 8 and 9:1-7 require a little more attention. We have the king of Assyria whom the Lord brings up; next, the family of David is despised, and the Lord makes Assyria flow over to the neck, filling the land. There is a general association of the peoples, who will be broken in pieces, but the Spirit of Christ warns His people against a confederacy. They are to sanctify the Lord Himself. He shall be a Sanctuary, but for a Stone of stumbling. The disciples are separated, and the Spirit of Christ in the Remnant waits on the Lord. He, and the children the Lord has given Him, are for a sign. There is darkness and trouble, but then great light, for a Son is born to them; compare Revelation 12. Here the subject is still the Assyrian, and the Son born. There are confederacies in Israel when the peoples come up. Hence, though Antichrist be not excluded from the troubles, the peoples, in general, and the Assyrian, are directly spoken of. We have perfectly the same elements, as elsewhere, as to this prophecy.
Note, also, it is the king of Assyria who takes prisoners the Egyptians and Ethiopians.
Note, further, as to the connection between Isaiah 5 and 10:8, though Israel and Judah be distinguished, "all Israel" is the subject of the prophecy. In chapters 7, 8, on to 11:7, we have the house of David parenthetically, in order to introduce the history of Christ, from the infidelity of Ahaz up, going through His rejection and the Remnant to His manifestation in glory, as the Son born to the people in chapter 9:7 Chapter 6 is the special blinding of the people, in view of the glory of the Lord. Chapter 5:30 connects, or resumes, with particular details based on the history of Ahaz in chapter 9:8, going on to the end of chapter 12. The Assyrian and the confederacy of nations is judged, in view of the Son of David - Immanuel; and the Remnant in Judah in chapter 8, in view of the people, and the public results of the manifestation of the Lord, in chapter 10.
69 I return to my earliest, though imperfect, thoughts as to the Assyrian first taking the city, and then, after Christ's coming in, being destroyed on the mountains of Israel. There may be difference of association involved in these two cases. Thus, in Psalm 83, we have Assur joining with Edom, Moab, etc. - the nations surrounding Palestine. This is in the Book which speaks of the general lot of Israel. In Micah, Christ is the Peace when He comes into the Land. In general, the taking of Jerusalem is spoken of in connection with the assembly of the nations, as in Zechariah. The wish, in Psalm 83, will be accomplished, but the manner of it must be sought elsewhere. The judgment of Assur, and the judgment of Edom, are both connected with the judgment of the nations or peoples with Edom, it is clear, see Isaiah 63 and 34, and for the Assyrian, chapter 14. They are connected in a general way in chapter 30:28, 31.
I conclude that Ezekiel 38, 39, and Isaiah 14:25 are the same. Both involve the judgment of all the nations. Probably also Isaiah 10:24 refers to the same period. I suppose, also, chapter 30:28, 31. If we turn to Joel, we find the Northern army judged, and all nations too.
The question remains, who takes Jerusalem? This is connected also with the assembling of all nations; see Zechariah 14:2 and 12:3. It is not the inroad of Gog, as such, for he falls on the open field. Yet the Assyrian is the "rod of God's anger" (and see chapter 31:8), "and their staff his indignation." We may easily understand that the part of Assyria in this matter is kept out of sight, on account of the early historical application of it to Sennacherib.
It would seem that Jerusalem will be taken by the Northern army. Thus much at least - the king of the North, who overflows and passes over, sets the tabernacle of his palaces in the glorious, holy mountain. Perhaps he had already made his inroad there; Daniel 11:40, etc. In Joel 2 and 3, they "run to and fro in the city." The Northern army is afterwards removed (chap. 2:20), when they cry to God. I doubt that Jerusalem is taken after this. Then in Isaiah 28 (and hence to the end of chapter 35, is most important to read on this subject - it is just the detail which is given of this part of Israel's history) Ephraim is overflown. The covenant of the scornful men at Jerusalem, who rule there, do not fear, because their covenant is "with death and hell." Yet the scourge does reach to them, and they are trodden down by it. With this, the Foundation Stone in Zion is revealed, and "he that believeth shall not make haste." This is the Lord rising up to do His strange work; compare Zechariah 14, where the city is taken. The scene then is general. After this, the Lord brings all nations against Jerusalem, Isaiah 29, but to disperse and destroy them. The Lord will defend Jerusalem, Zechariah 12; Isaiah 31:4, 5; see also Micah 4:11, 12, and compare verse 12 with Isaiah 30:28.
70 In chapter 28 we have judgment by the storm not escaped - the tried Foundation laid for the Remnant, but the storm reaching the proud rulers in Jerusalem. In chapter 29 Ariel is brought down, but the multitude of nations is swept away. In chapter 30 the nations are sifted with a sieve of vanity, and the Assyrian is beaten down which smote with a rod. In chapter 31 the Assyrian falls when the Lord defends Jerusalem; so, Zechariah 12, of the nations, but Jerusalem had first been taken. In Psalm 83 we find Assur confederate with all the surrounding nations. Edom helps (Obadiah 11, 12) when foreigners enter into the gates of Jacob, and cast lots on Jerusalem. The king of the North places the tabernacle of his palaces in the glorious, holy mountain between the seas. In Obadiah, the day of the Lord is near on all the heathen, when Edom has so acted at the capture of Jerusalem. Jehovah's feet standing on the Mount of Olives is of the highest interest here, in connection with what has been said as to the closing of the government of the nations when Israel was given up, and the grand system of the image (then instrument of judgment) took its place.
Then the glory of the Lord went there, and the vision disappears. Now the Lord resumes this government, only we find Him there as Man, because the glory has taken the form of Christ. It exists in His Person. This is distinct from the judgment of the beast and false prophet, for which He comes from heaven. Here, He returns into connection with the earth and Israel in judgment. It may be immediately after, but it is distinct. It is not yet "sitting between the Cherubim," nor yet "coming from heaven." This last is the introductory part, as it would seem from Psalm 50, for I apprehend, verses 3, and 5 are the progress towards verse 2. The nations, in general, known before the captivity, will besiege and take Jerusalem - the Assyrian being confederate, and the chief power - Gog, I suppose, behind. The Lord Jesus will then confound them, and destroy them utterly. Gog (who has Assur's land) will then perish on the mountains of Israel. A great slaughter of the confederate nations will take place in Idumaea. The Assyrian and confederates, I suppose, are as a mere screen to Gog, as instruments of whose ambition, also, they act. The king of the North overflows the countries in general, only Edom and Moab escape him, unless we return to the application of this to the wilful king. I suppose the Assyrian will have been for some time "the rod of judgment" on the nation (and be amongst the nations who take the city, if not in person, confederately) but at last, when he comes up, he falls by the judgment of God, and the Jews, being given power, smite the nations, and the destruction takes place also in Idumaea.
71 But it seems to me that the taking of Jerusalem, and the destruction which takes place there, is rather before the confederacy of Assyria and Edom, etc. Whatever may have been the instruments, Psalm 74 speaks largely of what is done there; so Psalm 79. It is in Psalm 83 that we get the confederacy which would cut them off from being a nation. The Assyrian, we have seen, will fall when the Lord appears in favour of Jerusalem. There may be a question raised if Psalm 74 is an enemy from without - of Psalm 79 there can be no doubt. In Isaiah 33 we have the case of an unprovoked attack, or of the Assyrian under His influence, and then, consequently on this, the slaughter of Idumaea, and of other people there, I suppose. The question naturally rises, when does Gog come up? When is this peaceable state of Israel in the Land? First, it is before the final display of the Lord's glory, so as to make the heathen know that He is the Lord, the Holy One, in Israel. Only they are brought out of the nations, and dwelling peaceably, but it is God's land, and God's people, Isaiah 38:14, 16.
We must consider, I think, the attack of Gog as consequent upon the peace given to Israel in general, after their establishment by divine favour. This proves that God is amongst them. His being so has never hindered the folly of the nations. Then, Israel's sin, often allowed success - now, they will learn what His presence in Israel is.
72 But there is another point. This concerns Israel and the Land, but there are attacks of the Assyrian which concern Zion; thus chapter 10:24. So that there are the people relieved, and till this attack of the Assyrian, the indignation had not ceased, the Lord's hand was stretched out against them; so see verse 12. So in chapter 31 it is Jerusalem. Zechariah also speaks of Jerusalem, chapters 12, 14 and 9, only there he uses Ephraim also against Greece. It seems evident, from chapters 14 and 12, that the nations come up twice against Jerusalem. They take it the first time, which occasions the Lord's judgments, for His eye is ever there. The second time, He defends its inhabitants, and gives them power. Then it is the Assyrian falls, as also in Isaiah 10:24. Still he had been, up to that, God's rod of indignation against them.
In Isaiah 28, though passing through Ephraim (so that that is settled by Israel) Jerusalem is trodden down by the scourge, its rulers being scorners. In chapter 29 Jerusalem is besieged and brought low, but the multitude of nations is suddenly destroyed. But the people had no sense of divine things - they were hypocrites. But a very little while, and all is changed, and the terrible one is brought low, and the scorner consumed. This is judgment within also. In chapter 30, both the Assyrian and the king are destroyed - the Jews sought help in Egypt in vain. The Lord, for His Name's sake, now destroys the Assyrian who smote with a rod. In chapter 31, the Lord defends Jerusalem from his attack; note chapter 30:20. Christ is, after this, set up, chapter 32. It would certainly appear, after this deliverance of Jerusalem, that the general deliverance remains yet to be accomplished. The thought of Idumaea, at the close, will be to take possession of the two countries; Ezekiel 35. We have seen them (Psalm 83) associated with Assur. From Obadiah, it appears that Edom (by whomsoever the taking of Jerusalem may have been accomplished - perhaps Persia and Media, Isaiah 22) was one of the company. After this, the Assyrian is destroyed, and Jerusalem rescued. This confederacy of Edom turns against them; Obadiah 7.
If we suppose that Gog's destruction is not an instantaneous act on his coming up, the arrangement of facts would be easy Israel will certainly be subjected to the oppression of the Gentiles, after their return and apparent prosperity; Isaiah 18 and Psalm 107. When in this state, Russia in possession of Assyria, and so called in the former ante-captivity prophets, comes up to conquer the Land. Meanwhile wickedness prevails at Jerusalem, but there is a testimony. It is the time of the power of the West also. (At this period, save the Remnant, they are trodden down of the heathen. The body accepts, I suppose, Antichrist as a friend.) Jerusalem is taken, and Edom thinks to possess the Land. The scourge treads down at Jerusalem, in spite of the pride of the scornful men who dwell there, who have made lies their refuge. They are still the people of God's wrath, and the Assyrian is the rod of His indignation, and, iniquity being at the full, they are given up. At length the Lord interferes, and destroys, from heaven, the wickedness that rises up against that, and the scorners are consumed. Then, the Assyrian having seemingly all at his disposal, the Lord interferes as King in Zion, and defends it, and destroys the Assyrian, so that there is no more yoke.
73 Daniel 8 would present a difficulty. There, the Assyrian would seem to be a power of a somewhat different character. Query, if he be not the second beast in the Land. It is possible that he may be a power put forward by Gog in the ancient Assyria (see verse 24), who shall do all this, though Gog may come up too. The difficulty is in Ezekiel 38:17. Where is he spoken of? Compare Psalms 44, 46, 47 and 48, for the deliverance of Zion, and the consequences. The state of the city is in the Psalms which follow from Psalm 51. In Psalm 60 we see their position among the nations, and the lot of the neighbouring countries; see then Psalm 74 (another Book). They do not abandon Zion, though it be desolate. See Psalms 75 and 76, for the judgment, the covenant and Messiah - Psalm 79, Jerusalem taken. Psalms 80, 81, 82 and 83 all refer to this; compare Psalm 85.
On re-reading this, there is no proof that the Assyrian takes the city - it is taken by the nations.
Another important point to remember is, that the dealing with Israel, as to sin, to bring them in heart back in connection with Christ, is different from their deliverance by power. We have seen that in the history of David. He delivers and sets up the ark in Zion - afterwards the altar in grace on Mount Moriah. The order of this, we must examine. The distinction is clear; so Psalm 130 comes in. His feet standing on Mount Olivet is in the connection, I judge, i.e., in power taking Jehovah - judgment, not to bring them to repentance by showing Himself to them. Zechariah 10 closes the public, royal deliverance (as Christ rode in, and was rejected, and then a deeper scene came in) and then, chapters 11 and 12, we have the moral rejection and repentance. It is to be doubted whether the repentance, i.e., on seeing, is not all after the deliverance by power. In Psalms 93-100 we have only deliverance by power. In Isaiah 50-53 we have the voice of God's servant listened to, righteousness sought after. The Lord, indignant, rescuing and setting up Zion, and making His people know His name - His arm made bare, and all the ends of the earth seeing the salvation of Israel's God. But Israel's humiliation before the Cross is subsequent; so, see Psalms 20, 21 and 22 - judgment in 20 and 21, expiation afterwards.
74 In Isaiah 59 we have the confession and state of things which brings in the intervention of the Lord; see also Deuteronomy 32. This would put the destruction in Bozrah before that, seeing which produces the repentance, or, at any rate, before the reflective repentance of Isaiah 53, which knows not deliverance, but forgiveness. On the latter, full blessing comes, as it seems, but the deliverance shuts out the unclean enemies; Isaiah 35:4, 9. It is with this coming and deliverance, answering to the cry of the ruin of the house, that Isaiah closes. But the cry there is not as to Him they have pierced, but on promises, and as being His people, acknowledging rebellion; see chapters 63 and 64. The answer is the distinction of the Remnant, and appearing in glory for judgment. This distinction, and the notice as to standing on the Mount of Olives, are the data acquired here. The details are noticed for enquiry.
In respect of Zechariah 9, it may be noticed that it has been already remarked that the Lord, in riding into Jerusalem, takes distinctly the Jehovah place, "The Lord hath need of him," and enters, and looks around. So that the deliverance would be by Him as Jehovah, yet as King and Son of Man. And such is the deliverance of Zechariah 9, as see verse 14. Only, of course, "Son of Man" is not seen here, because that goes much farther (see the extent of character taken in chapter 12:1).
NOTE. - it seems that be-in . . . l signifies "between," and, in English, this makes a most material difference in Daniel 11:45, for, in this case, the person in question does not enter Jerusalem, but remains without - an element of the utmost consequence for determining who it is. But note it is yam-mim (seas) not yom (sea); in any case, l' is not properly "in."
75 Note. We may say Abraham was a son of God, i.e., he will have this title in the world to come, from Luke 20, where the Lord declares that in the resurrection they are children of God, being children of the resurrection, and, I suppose, this would apply to the Old Testament saints.
Though what is called "The eternal Sonship" be a vital truth, or we lose the Father sending the Son, and the Son creating, and we have no Father if we have no Son, so that it lies at the basis of all truth, yet in the historical presentation of Christianity the Son is always presented as down here in servant and manhood estate, as all through John, though in heaven and One with the Father. "This" - this Person - "is my beloved Son" - He who was as Man there, yet there. In Matthew 3 the whole Trinity is revealed, and we may say for the first time fully. Wonderful grace it is! Hence "No! not the Son," has no difficulty.