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Manasseh and Ephraim are family; they have a common language and common culture, and they come from common stock. In every way that matters they are brothers, but they are at war with each other. And they don’t stop there. They turn against Judah, their southern relative. Amazingly, God has chosen them all to be His people, a nation of promise and destiny. How sad that it’s come to this! What is God to do with His children? God will not abandon them, yet neither will God put up with their destructive consumption, their greed and injustices. Indeed, their wrongdoing takes its own course of self-destruction, and God will not stop it. Sometimes God’s judgment consists of Him stepping back and leaving people to their devices—letting their will be done.

10 1-2 How awful it will be for those who mandate wickedness
    and legalize oppression, denying justice to the needy,
Taking away the rights of the poor among My people.
    Such leaders intend to make helpless widows and orphans their prey.
How will you opportunists handle the day of reckoning?
    What will you do when trouble comes from far away?
Will you run away from the disaster you caused?
    Who will help you? Where will you leave all your wealth?
You, too, must cower among the captives
    or fall among the dead.
Still, God’s anger smolders. His hand is raised; there’s more to come.
Hah! God has determined to let loose a punishing disaster like you’ve never seen.

Eternal One: How awful it will be for Assyria, the rod of My anger,
        as they come crashing in on you; the club they bear is My fury.
    I am sending Assyria against a nation that refuses to act rightly,
        delegating it to humble a people who have frustrated
        and infuriated Me by their blithe dismissal.
    Assyria will snatch their wealth, seize their treasures,
        and trample over them like mud in the streets.

But they will get cocky. Assyria has its own intentions for destruction,
    to move against other people and other places to cut them down.
8-9 The victories make them think they’re invincible:
    The king of Assyria says:
    “Aren’t all of my princes destined to be kings?
Calno fell just like Carchemish.
    I took Hamath as easily as Arpad. Samaria, too, fell like Damascus.
10 My powerful hand has reached out to subdue kingdom after kingdom
    whose idols were more famous and respected than those in Jerusalem and Samaria.
11 Now I will move in and take over Jerusalem and her idols
    as easily as I did in Samaria.”

The Assyrians imagine that it is by their initiative and power that they gain control of these great cities and their populations. They are mistaken.

12 God will punish Assyria and its king for their blasphemous rants and arrogant self-satisfaction once my Lord has finished using them to accomplish His purposes here on Zion and in Jerusalem.

13 Assyrian King: I am so smart, so strong, so knowledgeable.
        I am clearly superior to everyone else,
    Moving easily into other countries and using them to suit my needs,
        taking their treasures at will and humbling their citizens.
14     I just reach out and take the land and the riches I want—
        from all over the earth—as easily as one gathers eggs from a nest.
    They don’t flap their wings;
        they don’t make a sound, while they look on helplessly.

15 But wow, are they ever mistaken! Assyria seems to think it has used God.
    Can an ax take credit instead of the one who swings it?
Is a saw better than the one who uses it?
    Only if a club or rod can move on its own.
16 So the Lord, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
    will afflict Assyria’s brawny soldiers with disease,
And they will waste away to nothing.
    God will kindle a roaring fire beneath Assyria’s fleeting glory.
17-18 The light of God’s people will be like a fire that burns up
    the thorns and briars in a single day.
The Holy One will become a flame and make an end of all of Assyria’s schemes.
    God will consume the grandeur of his forest and fruitful fields;
He will consume both body and soul,
    as when the sick grow weak and waste away.
19 So few trees will remain of his glorious forest
    that a child could count them.

20 Then, the few that remain of Israel,
    that handful of Jacob’s people who escape,
Will finally quit depending on the power of others
    (others who abuse and take advantage of them)
And will instead lean on the Eternal One, the Holy One of Israel.
21 This remnant of Jacob’s people who endure and escape the great destruction
    will come back to the Mighty One, to the embrace of God.
22 But don’t doubt—though the number of the people of Israel
    are like the sand of the sea,
Only a remnant of them will be rescued and return to survive.
    For destruction is sure—the matter settled—God is absolutely right to do so.
23 For the Lord, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies,
    will carry out His destructive decree over the whole land.[a]

24 But as for the Holy City, Zion, the Lord, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has this to say:

Eternal One: Listen, My people living in Zion. Don’t be afraid of Assyria even though that great and terrible nation batters and wounds you, presses its weight and might against you as Egypt once did. 25 Don’t worry. It won’t be long until My anger against you will be over, and I’ll turn it instead in Assyria’s direction.

26 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will lash Assyria with His whip; and Assyria will feel the crushing power of God’s judgment just as the Midianites did at the rock of Oreb,[b] just as the Egyptians did when Moses raised his staff and drowned Pharaoh’s army in the sea.[c] 27 When that time comes, all the weight of Assyria will be lifted off of your shoulders; its yoke will be removed from your neck, and the burden of their assault and demands will evaporate, and you’ll be free.

Isaiah describes the southern march of the Assyrian army. Village after village falls until the enemy is so close the clamor of its forces shakes the streets of Jerusalem.

28 Oh, sure, first you’ll feel that terrible force coming on you from the north
    through Aiath and then Migron; at Michmash, they store their gear;
29 They take the mountain pass, and camp at Geba for the night;
    closer they come as Ramah trembles;
Saul’s town Gibeah flees before them.
30 Cry out, Gallim! Heed the warning, Laishah!
    Poor Anathoth!
31 Madmenah is on the run.
    So, too, are the citizens of Gebim.
32 But today, they will stop their march at Nob
    and shake their fists at beautiful Mount Zion, the mountain of Jerusalem.
33 But wait, look! The Lord, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will protect you;
    He will cut the arrogant and self-serving down to size.
With terrifying power He will prune Assyria’s branches,
    hack down the high and mighty, and humble all those who think they’re so great.
34 He will wield the ax and cut down the brushy undergrowth of the forest;
    even the cedars of Lebanon fall before the Mighty One’s blow.

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