It is often wondered if God would use His enemies to judge His own people. Yes; many times it has been done. It is the recurrent theme in the first six chapters of the book of Judges. In Genesis also, God used Laban to trouble Jacob until that covenant man was forced to begin his journey in the direction of God’s will, out of Padan-Aram into Canaan. He used Nebuchadnezzar the gentile king of Babylon to judge His people of Israel.
God is forced to resort to such measures when other options of getting His people’s attention have been exhausted. Through Isaiah the prophet, God threatened Judah:
17 “The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah — he will bring the king of Assyria.
20 “In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River— the king of Assyria — to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also”(Isaiah 7:17,20, NIV).
God said He was going to hire a razor with which to shave His people. That ‘razor’ was going to be an enemy king on a mission from the righteous God, against His own rebellious people. When enemies come, therefore, we should ensure that they are not razors hired by God to shave us, especially if our ways have been unrighteous. We should then be careful how quickly we mobilize to war. It is futile to fight an enemy that God supports; that would mean pitching oneself against the Almighty Himself.
It does not settle with popular theology that God would sponsor an enemy against His own camp, that the Lord Himself would ever “bring the king of Assyria” upon His own people. God does not keep such instruments in His house, but sometimes He is forced to hire them for ‘special’ ‘dirty’ duties.
In that day the Lord will hire a “razor” from beyond the Euphrates River– the king of Assyria – and use it to shave off everything: your land, your crops, and your people (Isaiah 7:20, New Living Translation).
5 Ho! Assyrian, the rod of my wrath, the instrument of my punishment!
6 I [myself, not Satan] will send [or anoint] him against a nation of wrongdoers, and against the people of my wrath I will give him orders, to take their wealth in war, crushing them down like the dust in the streets(Isaiah 10:5-6, Bible in Basic English)
May God never be forced to hire a razor against me. Hired razors are usually merciless. David knew this well, which was why, when Judgment Day came for his arrogant census, he chose rather to fall into God’s own fearful hands.
13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, "Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me."
14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:13-14).
Even if it is a preferable horror, falling into the hand of an angry God is neither a birthday cake. Better on His righteous side than anywhere else; not especially a hired razor.
From The Preacher’s diary,
November 28, 2014.