God is using Assyria to judge Israel and Judah but they are getting TOO MUCH pleasure and pride from the process. God says that soon Assyria will have so few left that a child can number them.
There are many places in Israel’s history where God uses other nations to be His correction. Assyria is one of the many. I was thinking about how Assyria is described as becoming arrogant because of the process that GOD had done, and then I thought about all the other nations. MANY of them treated Israel and Judah badly. The reveled in their ability to conquer them and put them in as much bondage as possible. I was thinking that it happened with ALL of them, but it didn’t. The King of Persia would have mercy on them and let the Jews return to their own land. He would even help, in one fashion or another, to rebuild the Temple. So, it is possible to hold a people as subjects who were conquered without completely oppressing them. It is possible to treat them as human beings instead of chattel.
God gave Assyria the victory but Assyria took the credit for it. God didn’t stop using Assyria but He made sure they would pay for the way they treated His children. God knew before He even raised up Assyria what they would do, but He also knew it would take a FIRM hand to get Israel back in line. And it would NOT be an overnight change. But because of Assyria’s attitude, God would punish them too. They would become “so few that a child can write them down” (verse 19b).
GOD TOOK NO PLEASURE IN THIS PUNISHMENT. God got no joy out of having to correct Israel and Judah. I have no doubt that it hurt Him as much as it hurt them. My mom commented a couple times as I was growing up about something her parents used to say when they would spank her; “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” She said; “Now I understand why my momma used to say ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’” She said this as she was looking at her hand that was stinging from using it to spank us. She said it in jest. But she knew the truth behind my grandmother’s statement. When you love your child, you discipline them. To do otherwise is NOT love. And because you love them, your heart hurts when they hurt.
I don’t know if I’ve shared this story before, but I might have. If you remember it, feel free to skip over it. My mom used to tell me; “I hope you have a child who is just like you.” In other words, I was difficult to deal with because of my stubbornness and volatility. Funny thing is, I was that child for her. My middle son was that child for me.
My son would gather hurts throughout the day until he reached a point where he would explode, and it usually happened with the most unexpected final straw. After a while, I learned to work backwards with him through his day and address all the little hurts that had built up. But before I learned that tool, I had one of the most painful days with him that I have ever had. He was probably around 5 years old at the time. This day started as any other typical gloomy weekend day with five children. By midday, my son began acting out. I started with the usual redirecting, then scolding, then time out, then spanking routine. NOTHING worked. His behavior continued to escalate.
I finally had enough. He was hitting everyone in sight. I took him into the living room and told him that I was tying his hands together so he couldn’t hurt anyone anymore. I had planned on leaving him in this position for a short duration of time to let him understand the consequences of his actions.
He went back in the bedroom and, after a short period of time, proceeded to club the other children with his bound hands. I pulled him back out and tied his hands behind his back and told him he was not allowed to run because he didn’t have hands to break his fall but that he could play with the other kids if he would behave.
He went back in the bedroom and proceeded to kick his brothers and sister. I pulled him out again and tied his feet about shoulder width apart. There was no way he could hurt his brothers and sister this way, I thought. He returned to them and found yet another way. He shoulder butted them or rolled on the floor and kicked with both feet. By this time though they were keeping away from him as much as possible. I found him trying these tactics.
I picked him up and threw him onto his bed. I told him that he was DONE for the day and that “I am so angry that I didn’t know what to do with you. I may send you to a babysitter tomorrow because I can’t even look at you right now!”
This had been an ALL DAY ordeal and I was broken. But the BIGGEST hurt for me was not being able to reach him; not being able to save him from himself. I called my mother-in-law and cried to her over the phone. She said she used to wish for somewhere she could just go and scream to get her frustrations out. I agreed that screaming might help me right then but there was nowhere to do it.
After we hung up I found a better solution. I started praying for my son. My heart was broken, not only over his behavior, but that I had resorted to measures I NEVER would have thought possible for a loving mother to do. By this time, he was asleep. I crawled in bed with him, draped my arm over him, poured my heart out to God, and wept over my little boy. I asked God to heal the scars I had inflicted that day and to help me discover how to reach him. I took NO pleasure in my actions that day, during or after, but I felt I had to do something drastic to get through to him.
The next day I made an appointment for family counseling for us all. They gave me some new discipline strategies, but until I learned to unravel his hurts, he still had some pretty bad days. I credit God with helping me find the ‘keys’ to his heart.
God knows the ‘key’ to each of our hearts but sometimes He has to dig pretty deep before He can uncover the ‘lock’. Discipline is painful but necessary but NEVER should the one delivering it take joy in the pain. Care about your brother, even when you are forced to use ‘tough love’. Don’t be Assyria. Don’t take joy in the pain of others or press them down even further just because you can since you are ‘bigger and stronger’.
And don’t dig your heals in with your sin so that the discipline has to get ratcheted up to the breaking point. It is much easier to listen earlier on instead of holding out and doing your own thing. God disciplines His children, then and now. “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19). “For the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12).
Father God, I PRAY I listen before You have to get too deep into discipline. I KNOW there have been times when it was VERY necessary to put enough force into my correction that it REALLY hurt. THANK YOU FOR NOT GIVING UP ON ME! It would have been so much easier to simply let me go my own way than to bring me back to where You are. But You didn’t. You kept calling. You kept pressing. And You kept Your arms open wide to receive me when I did return. Help me have a heart like Yours. One that loves unconditionally but expects what is right at the same time. One that is willing to do the hard work to get the best results for the ones I love.
I have some grandchildren, and children, that I need Your help Father in how to show them I love them but also hold onto Your truth in that love. My deepest desire is for them to find You and find the truth in You; especially find that You LOVE them beyond measure. Give me wisdom in my words and actions with them and in their presence.