Isaiah 14:24-32 (NKJV)
The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand:
That I will break the Assyrian in My land, And on My mountains tread him underfoot. Then his yoke shall be removed from them, And his burden removed from their shoulders.
This is the purpose that is purposed against the whole earth, And this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.
For the Lord of hosts has purposed, And who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, And who will turn it back?”
This is the burden which came in the year that King Ahaz died.
“Do not rejoice, all you of Philistia, Because the rod that struck you is broken; For out of the serpent’s roots will come forth a viper, And its offspring will be a fiery flying serpent.
The firstborn of the poor will feed, And the needy will lie down in safety; I will kill your roots with famine, And it will slay your remnant.
Wail, O gate! Cry, O city! All you of Philistia are dissolved; For smoke will come from the north, And no one will be alone in his appointed times.”
What will they answer the messengers of the nation? That the Lord has founded Zion, And the poor of His people shall take refuge in it.
Today we talk about the beginnings of destruction prophecies for nations other than Babylon.
Now that the prophecies to Babylon have finished, we get into the prophecies for other nations. Assyria and Philistia were both superpowers of the time. Less powerful than Babylon perhaps, but still quite on par.
Isaiah here predicts a violent fate for the Assyrians. Assyria was a nation famous for their cruelty and tyranny. Not only did they kill the soldiers in war (which was normal), they also slaughtered all the peoples who weren't involved, such as women and children. Their despotic ways of doing things earned them terror and ire amongst the rest of the nations who could do nothing in the face of their destructive force. The Israelites, desperate to get out of the situation with the Philistines, had relied on Assyria as an ally only to be taken over later on as a form of punishment in relying on an evil nation more than their own God.
Assyria had the penchant of insulting the gods of the nations they took over as well. Isaiah here talks about God’s purpose that cannot be annulled nor can it be turned back. It is a measure of power that the Assyrians had thought they could handle but really could not, harkening to the destruction of 185,000 Assyrians in the battle of 2 Kings 19:35 without any intervention from the Israelites themselves. In addition, this would free those who had been held captive from the burden of the Assyrians.
Next came the Philistines. The prophecy comes when King Ahaz dies, which situates this very much in the past. After all, the plague that destroyed the Assyrians came only later during Hezekiah's rule. It is a nod to the fact that these are oracles towards the future, not simply recounts of events past in a form that seemed like future sight.
The Philistines were a people that constantly warred against the Israelites. The “rod that struck” the Philistines might have alluded to the idea of the Israelites. With Israel and Judah humbled, the Philistines might have seen an opportunity to rejoice at the suffering. But God doesn't let Philistia off the hook. What would come out of the brokenness of their enemy would only be a worse thing to deal with. Those who were less fortunate would be safe, but the rest would be slaughtered by famine. Philistia would exist no more in its current state.
Philistia was basically wiped off the map of existence. The modern nation of Palestine is the Latin word for Philistia, indicating that Greece and Rome had taken over those lands as well and destroyed what was left. It is an important lesson in not taking joy in the downfall of others, because perhaps worse fates await still.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections. Daniel is in the Young Professionals ministry of the Central Christian Church.