That wicked nation, of course, was Judah, which we saw in the previous article had come under: I. The Threatened Great Judgment of God (v. 17). Now we come to: II. The Instrument of This Judgment (18-20). “And it shall be in that day Jehovah will whistle for the fly which (is) in the extremity of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee which (is) in the land of Assyria” (v. 18). Evil times are destined to come on evil men. “Yet He . . . will bring evil . . . against the house of the evildoers” (Isa. 31:2). In Isaiah’s day, the evil that God brought on Judah came by means of Egypt and Assyria who were rival powers which kicked Israel about as their football, so disrupting the peace of Western Asia. The Lord has only to whistle or hiss for the enemy and they will come. So Israel was pestered and festered with the fly of Egypt and stung by the bee of Assyria. “Egypt,” said E. J. Young, “is a land filled with flies.” Notice that: “Egypt is.” For up to this very day, Egypt remains a fly-infested country. In a striking way this was recently brought to our attention by the news media. The Egyptians were, last December, preparing insecticide vapor machines with massive fog-spray apparatus. These would be utilized just prior to the visit of Israeli Prime’ Minister Menachem (the name means, Heb.,Comforter) Begin, so that not one fly would touch his bald head. In Isaiah’s day the Egyptian enemy was thought of as multitudinous as swarms of flies.
The Lord arouses enemy nations as easily as a bee-keeper can call swarming bees. This is a fact and principle validly deduced from God’s providence as revealed in Scripture. A sharp whistle and mighty Egypt and Assyria obey His will. There is no power but of God. No nation can come against another unless the Lord so ordain and direct. Then they become the instrument of His hand which no one can escape or elude.
“And they shall come, and shall rest, all of them, in the brooks (valleys) of desolation, and in the clefts of the rocks, and in all the thorn thickets, and in all the (bushes: KJV) pastures” (v. 19, Heb.). They shall come, not by chance, but as directed by the control of God. Wicked men may rage, but their torrent of anger, so Scripture teaches in II Samuel 16:10 and Proverbs 21:1, is ordered and disposed of by God. Rabble-rousers, rioters, and revolutionists do as they please, throwing everything into disorder. Yet all their violent actions, according to Acts 4:27-28, are under God’s control, and come to pass as He foreordained. In our day, murdering terrorists kidnap whole trainloads or airplanes full of people whom they hold for ransom in the millions of dollars. Mad bombers terrorize our cities with simultaneous explosions in different parts of the same metropolitan area. In fact, these things are getting to be so common that we almost expect them as part of a “normal” day. The world has never more appeared to be in a hopeless state of utter confusion. Yet although these mad dogs foam out their vicious hate and vile rage to their own destruction and the ruin of civilization as we knew it but a few years ago, the Lord snaps on their obstinate necks an invisible leash by which He determines the limits they shall go (Dan. 6:22, 24). This truth the great Reformers always emphasized. All the wicked, indeed, “all creatures are so in His hand; that without His will they cannot so much as move” (Heidelberg Catechism, A. 28). No more can the ax or saw boast of chopping or sawing against the hand that wields these tools (Isa. 10:15). The devil himself, and all his minions, are at His beck and behest, doing nothing that is not according to the counsel of His will. (See Job 1:12; Job 2:6; Matt. 8:31; Eph. 1:11). The Lord will yet, and is already beginning to, stir up the heathen Gog and Magog nations against the nations of Christendom, that is, the nations purporting to be Christian. We see this today in the African nations pressuring Rhodesia and South Africa. HerePsalm 46:6 and Psalm 47:8 apply. The hand of God is the prime mover in the affairs of men and in the conflicts of nations. (See Lam 3:37f). The Lord stirs up the spirit of the heathen nations and their rulers to chastise His people (II Chron. 21:16, I Chron. 5:26). God moves man’s heart as He will. He stirs up an adversary against a man (I Kings 11:14, 23). When there is no adversary, it is His doing (I Kings 5:4). God directs the perverse actions of Men by His secret providence, and His sovereign power holds sway over the motions and fomentings of men’s hearts (Psalm 65:7; Prov. 16:1).
As flies contaminate everything they touch, and the sting of bees can poison and kill, so wicked men of the world consume and corrupt everything. They corrupt and ruin with their fly-blown, maggoty greed. They crush and destroy with their rage and bloodlust. They become God’s wrecking crew to topple tottering, tainted regimes. Whether lions (II Kings 17:25) or bees (Josh. 24:12), it makes no difference to Him, the Lord has an armory (Jer. 50:25) of instruments to do His will. Then hordes of adversaries “shall come, and rest, all of them, in the desolate valleys,” made so by war and rapine. They will be everywhere, in the clefts of the rocks, in all thickets and fields. There will be no place clear of them, no escape, no place to hide. So it will be for mere Christendom and its embrace of nations. Then the liberal politicians of the nations will cease their hypocritical attack on the so called “apartheid” policy. For when the swarming gaggles of Gog and Magog goyim surge into and overthrow these nations, then will be that which shall be worse than iron furnace Egyptian bondage.
“In that day, Adonai will shave with the hired razor by the regions beyond the River (Euphrates), by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet, and also the beard it shall take off” (v. 20). Then the nations which have apostatized from Christianity, like a “collaborator” in World War II, shall be insulted, disgraced, and shamed by being shaved and shorn, as a razor might shave off every hair of the body. Here the shaving is done by a hired razor, the king of Assyria. Ahaz had hired this foreign razor to shave off Syria and Israel. He had hired this “razor” by profaning and robbing God’s temple in order to come up with the price of hire. He hired a Murder, Incorporated out of the treasury of God’s Church. But God would use that same razor to scrape down Judah, denuding it of its population and wealth. This is the Lord’s doing. Assyria is a razor in God’s hand, a battle-ax with which He destroyed kingdoms. (See Jer. 51:20). So God still has his end-time battle-ax, the final Antichrist, with whom He will deceive and destroy the end-time nations.
III. The Consequences of This Judgment (21-25). “And it shall be in that day (that) a man shall preserve alive (rescue) a heifer cow and two sheep. And it shall be (that from) the abundance of the making of milk, he shall eat curds; for curds and honey (no longer Canaan’s corn and wine) shall everyone eat that is left in the midst of the land” (w. 21-22). The depopulated people will not be farmers, but shepherds, there being not enough of a population to till the land. Because the land for the greater extent lies uncultivated, its main produce, milk and honey, will be plentiful because of the so decimated population. After the taking of the people away into captivity, there are but few cattle left, but what they produce is abundance compared to the few people left behind in the land to consume it. There are no farmers and no government, also no employment, other than herding a few cattle per individual. These cattle provide no meat for the people, only milk products. The Lord controls the economy of the nations of the world (Rev. 6:6). Surplusses and shortages are the work of His providences. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
“And it shall be in that day (that) every place where there shall be a thousand (wild) vine(s) at a thousand (in) silver, it shall become the thorn and become the thistle. Archers shall go there with the arrows and with the bow. For all the land shall become thorn and thistle. And (on) all the mountains which shall be raked with the rake, thou shalt not come there (for) fear of thorns and thistles; and it shall be for the sending forth of oxen and for a treading down (place) of sheep” (w. 23-25). Vineyards, an indicator of economy, will not have much value, in fact, will have no existence. They will be choked out by thorns and thistles, making a former agricultural area a place where now men will be afraid to go since it has become a place for wolves, bears, boars, panthers, snakes, and robber bands. (The KJV is incorrect here.) There only brave men will seldom go, mainly to. hunt, and where, consequently, they must protect themselves in those dangerous solitudes. For food, beyond the meager milk products, they must hunt, and to hunt they must be armed. The land has become a Big Thicket Wilderness. Tillage has fallen into neglect.
Even the mountainsides, cultivated with rake and hoe, because the plow is impractical there, shall be desolated with thorns and thistles, to become fit only for range land and trampling spots for cattle. The covenant kingdom falls into ruin under the curse. Now no part of the country is safe. What Ahaz had so confidently expected in anticipated help and deliverance from Assyria is totally disappointed and turned to destruction and resultant wretchedness. Where the wicked look for preservation, destruction shall leap out on them and overcome them. Judah is taught to learn a very painfully expensive lesson that there was and is no help but from God.