2 Nephi 20 focus on the next major threat to Judah: Assyria. Assyria is like a flood, rising up to the neck of Judah as well as Israel. (Interesting to me since I was battling floods rising this week). We might ask ourselves why is a cruel, wicked and proud nation like Assyria allowed to rise like that? Chapter 20 gives us our answer. It is a message to Assyria, but the first few verses are spoken to Israel.
Vs. 1 In our day we might say, "Wo to those who are writing unjust laws and sending unrighteous men to Washington..." I guess we should choose our political representative more carefully. Can we really complain about policy if we weren’t involved in the process? I think not.
Vs. 2-4 "Israel, you are a greedy people! And because of your behavior, I'm going to allow Assyria to have at you! Assyria doesn't KNOW that I'm allowing them to do this, but it must be done because I need to humble you, My chosen people! So, what are you going to do when Assyria arrives, huh? Without Me, you're going to fall! Turn back to me, it's not too late! My hand is still stretched out to you!"
For the remainder of the chapter Isaiah will speak to Assyria and let them know what THEIR fate is.
Vs. 5-6 The Lord says, "I will send Assyria against the hypocritical nation (Israel) and I will allow Israel to be destroyed. Assyria will be used as a rod in My hand."
Vs. 7-11 Assyria doesn't realize they are just a tool in god’s arsenal. They think their lowest guy on the totem pole is as good as Israel’s kings. What’s more, Assyria brags about all the nations already concurred by Assyrian armies. Assyria says, "The gods of the nations I've already conquered are greater than gods of Jerusalem and Samaria. What makes you think your god is going to save you? As I've done to them, so I will do to you!"
Vs. 12 Assyria shouldn't be boasting so arrogantly, for eventually it's going to bring the Lord's wrath upon them... but this will happen only after Assyria has done the job of humbling the Lord's people as He desires them be humbled. The Lord says, "Assyria, you are just a stick in my hand! I'M the one who is in charge here! Careful!
Somehow Assyria misses that message that they are not in charge here. Notice v14. This is the first time in history that someone is called a chicken. LOL! Assyria says, "Look what we've done! We've taken all your treasures, we gathered all your eggs and you didn't even make a peep!"
God sets them straight in vs. 15. "You're just my tool, Assyria, only a tool. I'm the one in charge here. When my people have been humbled enough and I want to pull you back, I will do it. Which is more powerful... the axe, or the one who holds the axe? You are JUST A TOOL, Assyria!"
Vs.16-23 gives us more of this same idea. Then in v24 the Lord begins to address Israel again. The Lord says that He'll do to Assyria what Egypt did to the children of Israel.
Vs. 25 Assyria's power won't last very long.
Vs. 26 The first half of this verse is alluding to the story found in Judges 7, of how Gideon and his three hundred men defeated the army of the Midianites with just rams horns and lights. The last half of 2 Nephi 20:26 alludes to Egypt again. The Lord says, "Don't worry, Israel, for I'll deliver you from the oppressive Assyrians when I do to them what Egypt did to you."
Vs. 27 Destroyed because of the anointing of whom? The Messiah. The name "Messiah" literally means "the Anointed One." The yoke will be taken off through the Messiah. HE will deliver them.
The last part of chapter 20 sees dramatic Isaiah expressing the sense of dread that is felt by Israel at this time. They know that Assyria is coming and want to capture Jerusalem, and they feel that absolutely NOTHING can stop the march of that army. Feeling they (Israel) are not strong enough to beat them, they're panicking. Imagine our own panic if WE knew an army was marching against us and it is getting closer and closer. However, the Lord will stop the Assyrian army just before it starts to attack. (Can you imagine the joy and relief when the news reports finally come saying that Jerusalem has been spared?) But how does the Lord stop the Assyrians? He sends an epidemic which sweeps through the whole army. God had promised that not a single arrow would be pointed towards Jerusalem, and He kept His word. Literally thousands of soldiers die overnight, and the ones remaining limp away, never to threaten Jerusalem and Israel/Judah again.
Although much of this chapter is referring to actual wars that happened in the past, I believe it can be a metaphor for life. Often God allows wickedness to rise just a bit to humble the believers. Sometimes, we believers get a bit proud and need to be reminded to be humble. Those allowed to rise often feel that they are all powerful in suppressing others. However, they forget that God is the guy in charge. All of His creations can be used as tools in order for Him to accomplish his purposes. Sometimes the rising tide of wickedness begin to worry those being humbled. Worry sets in. “We are about to over run!” But remember, Christ save us. He will swoop in and stop the advance of wickedness upon those doing their best to follow Righteousness just in the nick of time. Remember, HE IS THE GUY IN CHARGE. Just be in His camp and things will work out for good.
What did you learn today?