8-2 Assyria And
Arabs on the bandwagon
Not just the Syrians
were involved in these raids. Speaking of this time, Is. 9:12
speaks of the Syrians and Philistines as being the mouth of a huge beast,
closing around Israel: " The Syrians before, and the Philistines
behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth."
This image of an Arab beast devouring Israel is repeated in Joel 1:6 concerning
the later Assyrian invader, showing how the period of invasions by Israel's
smaller Arab neighbours is a prelude to the final invasion by Assyria/Babylon.
These larger powers are symbolized by the lion (Jer. 50:17), as were the
Philistines in the typology of Jud. 14:5,6, cp. Jud. 15:14 (" Vineyards"
= Israel, the young lion roaring and shouting = the Philistines).
More detail concerning
these Syrian raids which heralded the major Assyrian invasion is found
in Is. 7:3-8, which we will now analyse. Remember that these
raids typify the period of prolonged (3.5 years?) Arab downtreading of
Israel which must occur before the final invasion.
" Syria is confederate
with Ephraim" may suggest that the Arab invaders associate themselves
in some way with the spiritually weak among Israel (those who have accepted
Islam?) in order to terrorize the rest of Israel.
Isaiah the prophet then
appears, inspiring the faithful in Judah to trust God. This
would continue the theme traced previously, notably in Judges, of a prophet
appearing when Israel is fearful (Is. 7:2), and under Arab attack.
We have suggested that this typifies the work of the Elijah ministry.
He encourages them: " Fear not, neither be fainthearted"
(Is. 7:4), recalling the inspired encouragement to Israel at the time
of Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:15). Whilst the Jehoshaphat context
typifies the final invasion rather than the period of preliminary raids
which Is. 7 refers to, it seems largely true that those preliminary raids
have a number of similarities with the final invasion. Thus Is. 7:4 speaks
of " the fierce anger of Rezin" and the Syrians, echoing the
rage and fury of Sennacherib and the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:27,28).
This great Arab fury is hard to understand if they are only motivated
by a desire for material betterment at Israel's expense. It would therefore
seem due to some form of massive religious excitation." The two tails
of these smoking firebrands" (Is. 7:4) recalls Samson's use of this
method to destroy the Philistines' corn (Jud. 15:4), perhaps hinting that
the Syrian raids aimed to destroy Israel's agriculture - something which
seems likely from the typology of the Judges account of Israel's previous
" Let us go up
against Judah" (Is. 7:6) sounds like Gog deciding, " I will
go up to the land" (Eze. 38:11). Note that Rezin is twice
called " the head" (Heb. 'rosh') of Syria and Damascus (Is.
7:8) - cp. the 'rosh' of Eze. 38:2. This all indicates that
Rezin is being framed in the record as a mini king of Assyria, seeing
that Eze. 38 is clearly based upon the Assyrian invasion:-
38 / Gog
8:9,21; the Assyrian “strong one” of Is. 28:2 is the ‘Gog’ figure
It is noteworthy that
the rebuke of Sennacherib's Assyrian invasion is celebrated in language
which alludes to that used about the destruction of Gog and Pharaoh (e.g.
Ps.76:6=Ex.15:1; Ez.39:20), suggesting that the final invasions of Israel
will summarize those of all her old enemies. And God's final deliverance
of her will have been typified by scores of like interventions in time
past. Note too the King of Babylon is described as taking counsel and
conceiving a purpose (Jer. 49:30)- the very language of Ez. 38:10 about
Gog conceiving an evil thought. Gog simply has to be read as a latter
day Assyrian / Babylonian. The Assyrian is to be “broken in pieces” (Is.
30:31 RV), just as the whole image of Daniel 2 is to be. That image symbolizes
a latter day confederacy of nations under the leadership of Babylon /
Assyria, which will dominate the land / earth of Israel in the last days.
Rezin's invasions were
a result of 'taking evil counsel against' Israel (Is. 7:5), just as Assyria
and her Arab supporters were to do: " They have taken crafty
counsel against thy people" (Ps. 83:3). Rezin's plan
was to " set a king in the midst of (Judah), even the son of Tabeal"
(Is. 7:6), meaning 'pleasing to God'. This supports the suggestion
that the " fierce anger" of the invaders, both then and in the
future, will be fuelled by quasi-religious reasoning - in this case 'You
Jews are so displeasing to God, we're going to put a truly God-pleasing
Muslim ruler in the holy city of Jerusalem.' The double emphasis
on " Damascus" as being the nerve centre of Rezin's operations
(Is. 7:8), may also be significant in that this very city is now a centre
for Arab terrorism against Israel.