Assyria, the Rod of God's Anger
And the LORD rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them,
and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
For he rent Israel from the house of David; and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king:
and Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them sin a great sin.
For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed
not from them; Until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by
all his servants the prophets. So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto
2 Kings 17:20ff (Spoke 12, Cycle 1)
This passage records God's final judgment on the Northern Kingdom of Israel when He used Assyria as
the rod of His anger to remove them from the land. Her kings were wicked from the start. When her
first king Jeroboam ascended to power, he feared the people would form an allegiance with the rival Kingdom
of Judah because everyone had to go to the Temple in Jerusalem to worship. So he foisted a false
religion on Israel to keep them away from true worship in God's Temple and "made two calves of gold,
and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought
thee up out of the land of Egypt" (1 Kings 12:28). He placed the idolatrous calves in his territory
(Bethel and Dan) and commanded his people to worship there, and further violated the law of the
Lord by making false priests "of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi"
(1 Kings 12:31). This was the "great sin" he put upon the people. Though it is true that he
drove them away from following the Lord, it would seem that the people themselves must already have
been corrupt since any true believer would have rebelled against such an evil ruler.
His wickedness became the standard for all the kings of Israel that ruled after him, almost
all whom are memorialized with an epithet like "He did that which was evil in the sight of
the LORD: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin"
(1 Kings 15:34, 16:19, 22:52; 2 Kings 13:2, 13:11, 14:24, 15:9, 15:18, 15:24, 15:28).
It was this entrenched wickedness of Israel, listed in great detail in 2 Kings
17:7-18, that brought down the wrath of God in the form of the Assyrian captivity. And this is
where the miraculous integration of 2 Kings, Nahum, and the Twelfth Letter really begins to
shine. Assyria is the one and only nation that God ever called "the rod of my anger":
O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff
in their hand is mine indignation. I
will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give
him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the
mire of the streets.
God Himself declared that Assyria was the rod in His Hand that He used to punish hypocritical Israel.
But Assyria did not know this. They were lifted up in pride and thought they had accomplished their victory
by their own power, saying "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom" (Isa 10:13).
This reveals how very quickly a nation can fall away from the grace of God even after genuine repentance.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. It was the "great city" that had received the mercy of
God and repented "in sackcloth and ashes" at the preaching of Jonah. But by the time of Nahum,
about 100 years later, Assyria had utterly rebelled against the Lord, like a dog returning to
its vomit (2 Pet 2:22). Its complete destruction is the sole topic of Nahum's prophecy.
Nineveh's third and final appearance in the Minor Prophets is in a single verse of Zephaniah where
its destruction is confirmed, "And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria;
and will make Nineveh a desolation" (Zeph 2:13). The appearance of Nineveh in
three alternating Books of the Minor Prophets is one of the many symmetric sub-patterns found throughout
Scripture. Henrietta Mears explained the spiritual fall of Nineveh after their repentance in her chapter
on Nahum in her review of the whole Bible called What the Bible is All About (the references to 2 Kings are hers):
No doubt the Ninevites were sincere then, but it did not last.
They were again guilty of the very sins of which they had repented. Nineveh, the glory of the Assyrians, had
come to a complete and deliberate defiance of the living God. They were not just backsliders! They
deliberately rejected the God they had accepted (2 Kings 18:25,30,35; 19:10-13).
The Assyrians thought they were invincible after defeating Israel and so felt confident to set their
sights on the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Rather than waste their strength and treasure in battle,
Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, sent Rabshakeh as a messenger to secure Judah's surrender. It
is here they showed their "deliberate defiance of the living God":
Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews' language, and spake, saying,
Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you:
for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand: Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD,
saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the
king of Assyria.
2 Kings 18:28ff (Spoke 12, Cycle 1)
Rabshakeh, like Jeroboam, tried to drive Judah from trusting in the Lord! This shocked King Hezekiah who
called that day "a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy." He sent word to Isaiah, asking
him to pray, saying:
It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria
his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God
hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.
2 Kings 19:2f (Spoke 12, Cycle 1)
God did indeed hear, and sent a "blast" against Sennacherib to draw his army away to another land.
But Rabshakeh soon returned and reissued his reproach against the Lord. Again supplications were made,
and again the Lord heard and answered through Isaiah:
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel,
That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. This is the
word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; ... Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and
against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of
Israel. By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord ...
2 Kings 19:20ff (Spoke 12, Cycle 1)
Destruction of the Assyrian
Army (Gustave Dore)
The King of Assyria and his messengers had set themselves against God, and so God set
Himself against them all, speaking directly to them through His Prophet Nahum:
Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots
in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from
the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.
Nahum 2:13 (Spoke 12, Cycle 2)
Indeed, those messengers were never heard again, and the Assyrian army was destroyed that very
night by one of the most powerful acts of God recorded in Scripture:
And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and
smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they
arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria
departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.
2 Kings 19:35f (Spoke 12, Cycle 1)
That is 185,000 corpses! The significance of this event as a warning to all who
would defy the living God is amplified by its reiteration in the geometry of the Wheel.
Here is how the Prophet Nahum recorded it on the second Cycle of Spoke 12:
The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and
there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses;
and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:
Nahum 3:3 (Spoke 12, Cycle 2)
Yet the miracle continues to compound. The record of 185,000 corpses is entirely missing from the parallel
passage in 2 Chronicles 32:21 (BW book pg 275), so this event forms a unique link – a keylink –
between the first two Books on Spoke 12. There are many other correlations between
2 Kings and Nahum, too many to list here. This is an extremely rich and fascinating area for
further research. A commentary on Spoke 12 alone could easily fill a large book. Consider the
degree of precision revealed in the placement of the little Book of Nahum. If it were moved to the right
or the left by even a single Spoke, all the links between it, the Twelfth Book, and the Twelfth Letter
would be lost. When viewed in light of the correlations on all the other Spokes,
especially the carefully omitted information in parallel passages, we know with absolute
certainty that we are beholding nothing less than the Seal of Living God, designed before the
foundation of the world. Praise His Holy Name!