Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will send a plague among Assyria’s proud troops, and a flaming fire will consume its glory. The Lord, the Light of Israel, will be a fire; the Holy One will be a flame. He will devour the thorns and briers with fire, burning up the enemy in a single night.
The Lord will consume Assyria’s glory like a fire consumes a forest in a fruitful land; it will waste away like sick people in a plague. Of all that glorious forest, only a few trees will survive—so few that a child could count them!
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. A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. (Isaiah 10:16-21)
The Assyrians were haughty. They thought they had accomplished everything in their own power. Assyria had been God’s instrument of judgment against Israel, but it too would be judged for its wickedness. The predicted punishment of the Assyrians began to take place in 701 b.c., when 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain by the angel of the Lord (Isaiah 37:36-37). Assyria’s downfall came in 612 b.c. when Nineveh, the capital city, was destroyed.
Once Assyria’s army was destroyed, a small group of God’s people would stop relying on Assyria and start trusting God. Those who remained faithful to God despite the horrors of the invasion were called the remnant. This remnant would be but a fraction of Israel’s former population: See Ezra 2:64-65 for the small number who returned to Judah (see also Isaiah 11:10-16). The key to being a part of the remnant was faith. Being a descendant of Abraham, living in the Promised Land, having trusted God at one time—none of these were good enough.
Our perspective can become distorted by our accomplishments if we fail to recognize God working his purposes through us. When we think we are strong enough for anything, we are bound to fail because pride has blinded us to the reality that God is ultimately in control. He wants us to be confident about his abilities rather than our own. Where does your confidence lie?