The Assyrian Himself
Mr. Allan M. Ure of North Bay, Ont., is a retired pharmacist who continues, as he has through most of his life, to teach God’s Word and serve the Lord’s people.
This study on prophecy is the third of a five-part series.
We come now to consider the title of our outline, the Assyrian. The Assyrian empire was the instrument in the Lord’s hands for the punishment of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the ten tribes, who had gone hopelessly into idolatry. God calls him, “The rod of mine anger,” and the staff in their hands is “mine indignation.” However, before the passage is complete, because of the pride of Assyria who attributed her success to her pagan gods, the Lord decided, “I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the King of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks” (Isa. 10:5-12).
Assyria carried the ten tribes into captivity and obscurity about 721 B.C. Sennacherib the Assyrian besieged Jerusalem about 706 B.C. He was defeated by the intervention of the Lord. 185,000 Assyrians were slain by an angel of the Lord in one night (Isa. 37:36). The siege was broken and Jerusalem was never troubled by the Assyrians again. Nineveh was destroyed and Assyria ceased to be in 606 B.C.
However, there are Scriptures which refer to Assyria, or the Assyrian, as again active in a future day. In Micah 5 we have an excellent outline of coming events. In the early verses the death of the Lord Jesus is fortetold: His birthplace is identified (v. 1). Israel’s travail in dispersion and unbelief are predicted (v. 2). The return of the remnant is also prophesied and Israel’s final blessing is described (v. 3). This Man, the Messiah, the Ruler of Israel, shall be the peace when the Assyrian comes into the land (v. 4). The Lord declares, “The remnant of Jacob (the twelve tribes) shall be a blessing in the midst of many people” (v. 5). Israel shall be given power over her enemies (v. 7). The Lord shall purge Israel of all idolatry and apostasy (vv. 8-9). The final judgment of the heathen is also predicted (vv. 10-15). Note that the NASV translates verse 15 as follows: “I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations which have not obeyed.” What a very significant alternative to the rendering of the AV. The Assyrian is to invade Palestine in the day when the Lord Jesus is the Peace. Consequently, the Assyrian shall be defeated and destroyed at that time.
After the Lord Jesus has purged the earth of all His enemies, Scriptures that prophesy regarding the nations which remain state that they will share in the millennial blessings of Israel. This is seen in the reference to “all flesh” (Isa. 63:23), and “Everyone that is left of all the nations” (Zech. 14:16). Sodom and Samaria finally restored are referred to as Israel’s sisters (Ezek. 16:53-55). The two great ancient empires, Egypt and Assyria, are again associated with Israel. The prediction is rather startling. Israel shall be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land; whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed by Egypt my people and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance” (Isa. 19:23-25).
Egypt and Assyria are mentioned particularly as the countries from which a large selection of Israel shall be redeemed (Isa. 27:12-13). Zechariah makes a very similar statement (Zech. 10:11). The news in respect of Assyria and Egypt during that great day is not in connection with their destruction by their subjection to the Lord.
There is considerable difference of thought respecting the validity of the expression “the ten lost tribes of Israel.” The word “lost” is used with reference to the remnant of Israel which will be gathered from among the nations after the millennial reign of Christ has been initiated. The prophet Isaiah speaks of two groups of Israel’s children which have been bereaved (Isa. 49:20-21). The group which was first lost (the ten tribes) is again recovered. “The children which thou shalt have, after thou has lost the other shall say again in thine ears.” Apparently, the restored group includes the ten tribes lost to view by the Assyrian dispersion. The other group seen in the phrase, “After thou hast lost the other,” would be the entire population of Judah who rejected and crucified the Lord Jesus, and continued in their hostile attitude between Calvary and the Rapture of the Church. These are forever lost through unbelief, with the exception of those individuals who turn in faith to the Lord and now form part of the Church, the Bride of Christ.
There are Scriptures, however, which tell of the reuniting of Israel (the ten tribes) with Judah (the two tribes), but this is still in the future.
It is important to notice that these terms are not always applied in this way. Judah does not usually include more than the present population of Jews. The terms Israel and Jacob sometimes refer to all twelve tribes. The term Ephriam, however, is only applied to the ten tribes of the northern Kingdom. In this case, an obvious exception is to be made when the tribe of Ephriam itself is mentioned.
The envy of Ephriam and Judah will cease (Isa. 11:13). The House of Judah shall walk with the House of Israel and they shall come together out of the land of the north (Jer. 3:18). The most specific passage is found in Ezekiel 37. Later we shall deal with the divine declaration, “I will make them one nation in the Land — no more two nations — nor divided into two kingdoms any more” (Ezek. 37:22). See the chronological schedule of future events presented by Ezekiel (chaps. 36 and 39). This will be the order used in this study.
The latter portion of the Prophecy of Ezekiel records some amazing facts leading up to and including the establishment and order which must prevail during the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ezekiel provides (chaps. 40 to 46) detailed instructions regarding the temple that is to be built, the sacrifices that are to be resumed, and the future functions of the priests and Levites. He also indicates the tribal borders of the whole land of Israel (chaps. 47 and 48). The division of the land into the portions which are assigned to each tribe is most interesting and so also the ascendency of the Prince of the House of David (Ezek. 37:24-25).