evil empires are God's instruments (part 2)

When we look at the big story, we see God's concern with nation-states is actually focused on one nation-state; Israel. Also known as the children of Abraham, Israel finally becomes a people who anticipate the realization of the kingdom of God. We can think of exceptions to this Israel-focus, Jonah's mission to Nineveh is one example. But the motif sustained in that story will fold into God's focus later in the big story. God's focus, and therefore the focus of the big story, is clearly upon the formation, purification, and realization of the perfect kingdom -a kingdom anticipated in old testament Israel.

National -laws, -religion, and government, were all tools of this evil age before the Israel-specific, God-given, versions were provided to The People through Moses.

We recognize that the national law given through Moses has a temporal, provisional, and pedagogical role in the big story (ie Matt.19:7,8). But the national tools 0f this age even when provided by God, fail to produce the perfect nation. This part of the big story brought the wrath of God on the people because of their unfaithfulness.

In Isaiah chapter 10 we can highlight how God uses "evil" nations as a tool in this age.

First we hear God's testimony of displeasure with Israel. "Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey (Isa 10:1-2) !"

God uses Assyria as a tool, as a vessel of wrath, to pour out punishment on Israel. "Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury (Isa 10:5) !"

And yet God still holds Assyria responsible for their imperfection (evil).
"When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says: 'By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.' Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood (Isa 10:12-15) !"

Assyria, like all other nations is not the chosen nation of Israel and they are certainly not Israel's anticipated "Kingdom of God" therefore they are not to be feared, nor are they to be imitated even though they presently exercise a God ordained authority over both, God's chosen and over other peoples of the earth.
"Therefore thus says the Lord GOD of hosts: 'O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction (Isa 10:24-25)'."

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