Isaiah 10: 1-14
The inclusion of this passage in a section headed ‘There is room for people experiencing poverty’ seems, to me at least, to miss its main points! It opens with an indictment of the unjust behaviour of Judah’s rulers, which does include their exploitation of the poor and vulnerable, and it ends with a condemnation of the hubris of the king of Assyria, quoting his boastful words in verses 8-11 and 13-14. (It has been noted that these claims of great achievements are reminiscent of ancient Assyrian inscriptions in which the king sets out his great deeds, real or exaggerated.) The set passage stops short of the picturesque description of the comeuppance which will be the result (but please do read verses 15-16!)
In the middle of the passage there is an insight remarkable for its time, crystallised in the phrase ‘Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger’. At a time when most would have believed that each nation had its own god, and that the gods of mighty nations were stronger than those of subject peoples, Isaiah is claiming that Judah’s God was powerful enough to use the Assyrians to bring about divine justice. This was no defeat for God, but a sign of God’s power.
Earthly rulers should not play God but obey God. At the heart of their rule should be zeal for true justice, and concern and care for the poor and vulnerable – attitudes which should be mirrored by all God’s people.
Powerful God – forgive us for being over-proud of our own achievements.
Righteous God – give us a vision of true justice.
Caring God – inspire us to welcome the poor and vulnerable.
Gracious God – help us to honour you not just with our words but our lives. Amen