The first nineteen verses of Isaiah chapter ten focus mainly on God’s dealings with Assyria as He uses them to discipline, even punish, Israel. Before the passage ends, God called Assyria to account for their behavior. A great deal about the sovereignty of God, especially in how He deals with nations, can be learned from this passage. However, before we get to that, we find tucked away in verse three a very blunt question from God to His people. We would be wise to consider the question; if God asked it of His chosen nation, we can be sure that it will be put to us also. The point made in this text is not an obscure, unique one. Rather, it is an emphasis found throughout the Bible. God calls His people in all places and all times to treat the weak among us with fairness and justice. Often, widows and orphans, are used as the all-inclusive example. Always, God makes it clear that we will be called to account in the matter.
It seems pertinent that our passage comes right on the heels of Isaiah 9, where it is prophesied concerning the Messiah that He will rule with peace, justice, and righteousness. Isaiah 10:1-4 states, Woe to those who enact evil statutes And to those who constantly record unjust decisions, 2 So as to deprive the needy of justice And rob the poor of My people of their rights, So that widows may be their spoil And that they may plunder the orphans. 3 Now what will you do in the day of punishment, And in the devastation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your wealth? 4 Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives Or fall among the slain. In spite of all this, His anger does not turn away And His hand is still stretched out. (NASU)
Woe. Anguish, grief, affliction, distress to those who deal unjustly with the weak among us. God minces no words when He condemns us for mistreating the needy around us. God uses descriptive phrases such as: unjust decisions, deprive the needy, rob the poor, take widows as spoil, and plunder orphans. Verse three is plain. A day of punishment is coming. Devastation will be the result. “From afar” seems to indicate that we will not perceive its coming until it is too late. “Will come” assures us of the certainty of it. Verse three asks the question(s) that reveal the dilemma brought on by their unrighteous behavior. Oh, child of God, what will you do when the time finally comes for God to recompense you for your injustice and mistreatment of the weak among you? This question is clearly designed to remind you that no good answer will be available to you and no method of escape will be found. Who will you turn to for help? There will be no one who can help you. Where will you leave the wealth you acquired through perverting justice against the weak among you? The obvious answer is that the wealth will be stripped from you in the day of God’s judgment. The question also seems to hint that you may not have heirs to leave it to anyway.
Verse four is one of the most tragic verses in all the Bible. The truth is clearly stated that the wrath of God will not be turned away. The oppressors of the weak will only find a place among the slain or the captives. The point is clear. Mistreating the weak will result in certain and severe punishment. We would be wise to take God at His Word.