Deliverance from Assyria--Part 2
Nov 27, 2009
There is no doubt that God always takes the credit for bringing Israel and Judah into captivity on account of their sins. In Isaiah 10:11 tells the prophet,
"Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?"
Each capital city represents the whole nation's religious system. Samaria was Israel's capital city, and God brought that nation into captivity to Assyria because of "her idols." Idols, of course, do not have to be physical graven images. Ezekiel 14 also speaks of "the idols of their heart." Ezekiel's term for "idols" is the Hebrew word gillul, "a log." It was a Hebrew euphemism for DUNG. (See my book, The Laws of Wormwood and Dung.)
Samaria was openly idolatrous, ever since Jeroboam set up the golden calves in Bethel and Dan. Jerusalem was hypocritically idolatrous, because while they often banned graven images, they were guilty of heart idolatry. So the penalty was the same. God would do to Jerusalem what He did with Samaria.
Samaria was destroyed by Assyria; Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon, which had been a province of Assyria. But the judgment was also upon their idols and images. It is easy to destroy graven images; it is not so easy to destroy the idols of one's heart.
In looking to the New Testament, we find that "Jerusalem" means more than just the city. There is an Old Jerusalem and a New Jerusalem, which allegorically represent the two covenants. That is because the name "Jerusalem" is plural in Hebrew (Ierushalayim). The Old Jerusalem, say the prophets, is slated for destruction. Paul says it is Hagar, the bondwoman who must be "cast out" with her son, that is, with the entire Old Covenant system of worship (Gal. 4:30).
There are conflicting prophecies of "Jerusalem," some good, some bad. As a general rule of thumb, when you see a prophecy of blessing upon Jerusalem (Is. 62;7), it refers to the New Jerusalem. When you see prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem, it refers to the Old Jerusalem (Jer. 19:10, 11).
That is why the book of Revelation can speak of the New Jerusalem while quoting the Old Testament prophets who wrote of "Jerusalem." The Old Testament never distinguishes between the two Jerusalems. One must go to the New Testament to see the difference and to resolve this age-old question about why "Jerusalem" was always written in the plural.
And so, these two sets of prophecies are being fulfilled simultaneously, even today. God is now setting up the Old Jerusalem for destruction, along with its system of temple worship (i.e., animal sacrifices, Levitical priests, etc.), even as Jewish leaders are preparing to establish their Old Covenant system in the near future. They do not realize that their entire religious system is one of "bondage," and because its mother is "Hagar," it can never produce an "Isaac" to inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul tells us this in Galatians 4.
Only the New Jerusalem is "Sarah" and can bring forth the promises of God.
But since the Old Jerusalem with its heart idolatry is NOT YET DESTROYED, God still has a purpose for "Assyria." Assyria in prophecy is more than just the original empire that took the Israelites captive. The old Assyria is not the new Assyria, any more than the old Jerusalem is the New Jerusalem. Neither is old Babylon the Mystery Babylon of Revelation.
Because old Jerusalem is still competing with the New Jerusalem to inherit the promises, God still has a commission for Assyria to accomplish. Assyria is "the rod of My anger" (Isaiah 10:5), called to bring judgment upon Jerusalem. Assyria is especially necessary in view of the fact that large portions of the Church are in support of the Old Jerusalem and have interpreted prophecy in a way that makes Hagar "chosen" to bring forth Isaac.
When Assyria's commission is completed, then God will turn His attention upon Assyria, as Isaiah 10:12 tells us,
"So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, 'I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness'."
One might ask how God could judge Assyria for simply fulfilling its divine commission. Isaiah gives the answer: pride.
(15) Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? That would be like a club wielding those who lift it, or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.
In other words, Assyria took the credit for its conquests, instead of acknowledging that their success was due to God's commission and the fact that they were acting under divine authority.
Until the old Jerusalem is destroyed, "Assyria" has not completed its task, for Isaiah 10:23 says,
"For a complete destruction, one that is decreed, the Lord God of hosts will execute in the midst of the whole land."
We are admonished not to be afraid of this destruction, because it will not destroy the earth, and God has promised to protect "the remnant."
(24) Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts, "O My people who dwell in Zion [the throne of David, speaking of the Davidic company], do not fear the Assyria who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. (25) For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent, and My anger will be directed to their destruction."
Verse 21 says "a remnant will return." This is a reference first to Isaiah's son Shear-jashub in Isaiah 7:3, whose name means "a remnant will return." His son was named to prophesy the return of "the remnant." This is not a "remnant" of Jews, but a remnant of Jacob-Israel. Secondly, the term "remnant" itself is the biblical equivalent to the Overcomers. Paul applies it specifically to the 7,000 in Elijah's day who had not bowed their knee to Baal (Rom. 11:5-7). Paul makes it clear that these are Christians of the New Jerusalem, not Jews of the Old Jerusalem.
All of this is more fully treated in my book, Who is an Israelite? When Paul spoke of "the remnant," he said, "remnant of grace." This indicated a people who had been given grace through the blood of Jesus Christ. Those of the old Jerusalem still to this day attempt to satisfy the demands of the law by their own works, not realizing the impossibility of their task. Justification can only come by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
So the final destruction of Jerusalem will likely be the point where Assyria's commission ends. Jerusalem has been destroyed many times, but always rebuilt and always its people slide into heart idolatry. Hence, Assyria is still needed even today to finish the work. I believe that Assyria's work will conclude when the final, permanent destruction of Jerusalem takes place. According to Jer. 19:10, 11,
(10) Then you [Jeremiah] are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you (11) and say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Just so shall I break THIS PEOPLE and THIS CITY, even as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial.
That prophecy has yet to take place, simply because each destruction of Jerusalem has been followed by the REPAIR of the city. The final destruction will be permanent. Then God will overthrow prophetic "Assyria."
This is the second part of a series titled "Deliverance from Assyria." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones