The Assyrian Concern

“Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger! And My fury is the staff in their hand. I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath. I will command him to plunder, and to strip off spoil, and to trample them like the mud of the streets. Yet he does not purpose this, nor does his heart think so. For it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off not a few nations. For he says, Are not my commanders all like kings? Is not Calno like Carchemish? Is Hamath not like Arpad? Is Samaria not like Damascus? As my hand has found the kingdoms of the idols (for their carved images excelled Jerusalem’s and Samaria’s); shall I not do to Jerusalem and her idols as I have done to Samaria and her idols?” (Isaiah 10:5-11).

Tolerant Calvinist: Take it easy there, Isaiah. You need to be cautious lest you imply that God approves of Assyria’s sin. You don’t want to say that Assyria is a rod of anger that God actually controls and actively swings do you? Wisdom and tact resort to the incoherent doctrine many Calvinists call, “compatibilism.” This way God may be said to be “in control” without actually controlling anything. Or even said to kind of “cause” something in a passive sort of way. See that?

“And it will be, when the Lord has broken off all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will visit on the fruit of the proud heart of the king of Assyria, and on the glory of his lofty eyes. For he says, I have worked by the strength of my hand and by my wisdom; for I am wise. And I take away the borders of peoples, and have robbed their treasures. And like a mighty one, I put down ones living in it. And my hand has found the riches of the people. Like a nest, I also have gathered all the earth, as forsaken eggs are gathered. And there was not one moving a wing, or opening a mouth, or one chirping. Shall the axe glorify itself over him chopping with it? Or shall the saw magnify itself over him moving it? As if a rod could wave those who lift it. As if a staff could raise what is not wood!” (Isaiah 10:12-15).

Tolerant Calvinist: Don’t you think that’s just a bit over the top? The “fruit of the proud heart”? The “glory of his lofty eyes”? The “saw magnify[ing] itself over him moving it?”? Really, Isaiah? You need to work on balance and maturity, Isaiah. Assyria’s denial that God actively and totally controls their sinful actions does NOT stem from pride. Rather, pious Assyria and their humble king are simply concerned to protect God’s holiness, honor, and glory.

“So the Lord, Jehovah of Hosts shall send leanness among his fat ones. And under His glory will kindle a burning like the burning of fire. And the Light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; and it shall burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day. And He shall consume the glory of his forest and his fruitful field, even from soul to flesh; and it shall be as a sick man melts away. And the rest of the trees of the forest shall be few, so that a boy might write them” (Isaiah 10:16-19).