You may have noticed Wittenberg Door Campus Ministry’s fourfold emphasis - history, integrity, truth, Scripture. Sparking meaningful discussion of the Scripture, the Old and New Testament, is heart and center of what we do. If indeed the Bible is God’s Word and directs us to Jesus, God the Son, we need to take its message very seriously. Every Tuesday my intention is to post some notes drawn from a commentary on some part of the Old Testament. In Isaiah chapter 10 Luther observes two very important themes. One is that the trouble coming upon Israel is not destruction. God always leaves a remnant. He is the redeeming God. The other theme is the cause of troubles. These always come when humans depend on their own wisdom and resources to get their own way. Let’s see how Isaiah and Martin Luther track these ideas.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 10” pp. 107-116.
In commenting on the opening of Isaiah 10, Luther observes that God’s judgment falls on Israel and will fall on his own society due to a stubborn refusal to reform (LW 16, 107). The multiplication of laws intended to gather power to a few people leads to evil. In the end, alliances will collapse and money will run out (Is. 10:3-4).
The punishment of Israel has been given into the hands of the Assyrians, who, in vv. 6 and following, act as God’s messengers. Luther considers this as chastisement, since it will not lead to complete destruction (LW 16, 108). In verse seven the comfort of God can be seen. The Assyrian king will not consume Judah. “We must not look at how many things the ungodly boast of,but what their boasting accomplishes” (LW 16, 108). The power of God cannot be overcome by any nation. After God’s work of chastisement is done (v. 12), He will rescue His people (LW 16, 109). God’s wisdom is shown as he arranges peoples according to His desire. Verse 15 points out that the kings of this world act as instruments of God’s will, tools rather than truly independent sovereigns (LW 16, 110). The king of Assyria, like all other kings, will pass away (LW 16, 111).
In verse 20, Luther points out that God makes promises of great comfort. “He says, the people will not only be set free from the enemies, but they will also be reformed” (LW 16, 111). Having been chastised, the people who formerly sought security in human alliances will turn to God. This remnant (v. 21) will return to the true God (LW 16, 112). Luther compares this to Matthew 24:22. “When we think: This is the end and annihilation, the Lord comes to cut it short and to draw the pen squarely through the account” (LW 16, 112-113). Luther cites numerous passages which speak of God delivering His people from various troubles. Comfort comes after affliction.
Verses 25 and following speak of God’s turning against Assyria after he has used them to chasten Judah. They will, in fact, be destroyed (LW 16, 114). God’s grace shown to Judah will overcome their enemies.
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