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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Friday, July 17, 2009
When Assyria was God's Rod...
In Isaiah 10 our Lord spoke about the coming judgment of Israel through the prophet. He explained in vivid imagery that nothing remained for those who stood condemned, but the coming condemnation. In this case, God was going to rouse Assyria against Israel (Judah). To frame this judgment, the Lord says through Isaiah, that Assyria doesn't intend to be God's rod of correction; that they are merely another wicked nation and that this plundering of Israel is merely an expression of their own corruption. Once God has used the Assyrians to judge Israel, He will then judge Assyria.

Consider the walled corridor that connects a holding pen for cattle to a killing floor beyond. Once an animal begins to walk in that corridor the narrow walls keep it from turning around. It goes to the killing floor on its own initiative. The Assyrians were acting in accord with their corruption - God wasn't imposing some new corruption upon them in order to force them to come to Israel - rather God was directing their path towards Israel so that their corruption was spent serving God's purpose. It isn't that God was forcing them to be wicked, it is that God was directing their wickedness at Israel in order to judge Israel. In His mercy, He chose to prune Israel by the hand of the Assyrians, rather than wipe her out altogether.

How did Paul say it? All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Calamity, however, isn't always judgment. Job was the most righteous man on the earth (in his day) according to the Holy Spirit, and yet calamity befell him - not as an act of judgment or chastisement, rather as an appointed calamity through which God's sovereignty and man's depravity were put on display resulting in the glorification of God, and the rewarding of a humble servant who remained faithful throughout the trials that befell him.

Providentially, our Lord is working all things together for good for us - even if he does so by means that shake our understanding. Sometimes our pace slackens for so long, that unless the Lord prunes us, we would stop altogether. He doesn't have to bring a wicked nation against us, it could come through sickness or financial upheaval - but even if He does, we can rest knowing that whatever the Lord allows to happen in our lives, He does do so out of loving concern and not out of wrath or malice. The Lord chastens those whom He loves. I would hazard this guess, that He never "over" chastens. When He allowed Assyria to come down on Israel, I think it was because anything less would have meant losing Israel altogether. Just as we sometimes have to amputate limbs to save the body - so too chastisement, which is always intended to "save the body" (as it were) can be quite severe - but as I suggest, never more severe than is required.

My point in the post today however is that the Assyrians didn't have a clue they were acting in accord with God's will. They were simply acting according to their nature. Not that God desired them to be wicked - that is, it wasn't God's desire that they be corrupt and rebellious, but rather even though God allowed them to continue in a rebellion that was never His desire, yet this same rebellion could not hinder God's plan, and taking their rebellion and corruption, God used it to bring about good - that is God used it to chastise the nation of Israel in order to bring Israel again to a place of genuine repentance. In this we see the complexity and majesty of the divine will.

The Lord wasn't controlling the Assyrians like robots, but allowing their sin and corruption to be the means of bringing Israel out of rebellion and idolatry and into repentance. Not mind control - but simply a demonstration that: no matter what individuals or nations do (according to their own will) God can and does use them in spite of their personal rebellion, to bring about His will.

One might argue that because scripture says that God desires that all men everywhere repent - that there is some contradiction here. If God desires all men everywhere to repent, that includes the Assyrians. So how can God desire for the Assyrians to repent on the one hand, and use their impenitence on the other, to bring about His will? Wouldn't that require God to desire both repentance and impenitence from the same people?

The answer lies in understanding the difference between what God prefers, and what God allows. God really would prefer it if everyone repented, but God has chosen to allow sin in the world. Sin by definition is disobedience and rebellion. God has chosen to allow disobedience and rebellion. The point is, even after allowing disobedience and rebellion - God's plans cannot be thwarted,

I love that the Assyrians were clueless in that even though God was wielding them like a weapon against Israel, they thought they were just going around and plundering and pillaging. They would have denied that God was involved in their activities, they even denied that the notion that the God of Israel was the one and only God, and yet...


posted by Daniel @ 6:15 AM  
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