This chapter describes the threat of Assyria to Israel, both in Isaiah's day and in the end-times. God will use the Assyrian Antichrist to chastise end-time Israel but Jesus will defeat him in order to rescue and restore Israel.
In verse 5, 'The Assyrian' was first of all the king of Assyria during Isaiah's time. However, the passage transitions into an end-time prophecy against the armies of Assyria and Lebanon that will fight against Israel in the end-times. So in the end-time fulfilment of this prophecy, 'the Assyrian' is a reference to the Antichrist. The Antichrist arises out of Turkey (Ezekiel 38:2). In ancient times, the Assyrian Empire included much of Turkey. So it is appropriate for the Antichrist to be referred to as the Assyrian (see also Isaiah 14:25, 30:31, Micah 5:5).

In verse 12, Jesus punishes the king of Assyria for his pride and haughtiness. This is still to some extent the king of Assyria in Isaiah's day, but prophetically he is also a picture of the end-time Antichrist.

In verse 17, 'the Light of Israel' and their Holy One is Jesus, who was introduced as Israel's light in chapter 9. Here he becomes a flame that consumes the thorns and briars that represent Antichrist's armies. They are consumed in 'a single day', referring to the day on which the final Battle of Armageddon takes place.

Verses 20 to 25 describe a remnant of Israel who will return to their Mighty God. In verse 24, God tells Israel not to be afraid of the Assyrians, and in verse 25 assures them that his anger against Israel will soon end, and instead his wrath will be directed to Assyria's destruction. This is still speaking both of ancient Assyria, and of end-time Assyria under the Antichrist. In verse 5, the Assyrian is called 'the club I use to vent my anger', implying that God will use the Antichrist to chastise Israel. But the purpose of God's chastisement is to purify and eventually restore Israel. Verse 20 tells us the time will come when a remnant of Israel will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel. This will be fulfilled at Armageddon, when the survivors of Israel will all recognise Jesus as their Messiah king.

In verse 26, Jesus as the Lord Almighty is firstly likened to Gideon who defeated the Midianites at the Rock of Oreb, and then to Moses who raised his staff over the waters of Egypt. So Jesus is both the end-time Gideon and the end-time Moses.

Verses 28 to 32 describe the Antichrist's invasion and advance to Jerusalem, with his forces shaking their fists at the Temple Mount. But verse 33 assures us that Jesus 'the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is ready to cut off the branches with terrifying power'. Branches here metaphorically represents powerful leaders, perhaps generals, belonging to the Antichrist. Similarly "The tallest trees will be cut down, the loftiest ones will be brought low" speaks of their defeat and humiliation. Tall trees also have an association with Lebanon, and so these are natural choices of metaphors as Isaiah goes on to describe Jesus' liberation of Lebanon in verse 34. Lebanon is one of the nations that Antichrist conquers (Habakkuk 2:17), so in Ezekiel 28, the Antichrist is called 'The ruler of Tyre'. This suggests that Lebanon becomes a significant stronghold for the Antichrist, and Lebanon is likely to play a significant role in Antichrist's attack at the battle of Armageddon. Psalm 29 also alludes to Jesus' defeat of Lebanon at the battle of Armageddon. In the NIV, verse 34 is translated, "He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One". This Mighty One is Jesus (see also Psalm 45:3 and 50:1).
Places: Israel, Assyria, Lebanon, Zion, Temple Mount
Symbols: Branches, Tall trees, Thorns and briers, Club of divine wrath, Rod of divine anger
Tags: Antichrist as the Assyrian, Antichrist as a Rod, Jesus as the end-time Gideon, Jesus as the end-time Moses, Jesus as the Mighty One, Jesus fights muslim nations, Jesus uses fire, Jesus defeats Lebanon
10 Beware, those who enact unjust policies, those who are always instituting unfair regulations,
2 to keep the poor from getting fair treatment, and to deprive the oppressed among my people of justice, so they can steal what widows own, and loot what belongs to orphans.
3 What will you do on judgment day, when destruction arrives from a distant place? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your wealth?
4 You will have no place to go, except to kneel with the prisoners, or to fall among those who have been killed. Despite all this, his anger does not subside, and his hand is ready to strike again.

The Lord Turns on Arrogant Assyria

5 Beware, Assyria, the club I use to vent my anger, a cudgel with which I angrily punish.
6 I sent him against a godless nation, I ordered him to attack the people with whom I was angry, to take plunder and to carry away loot, to trample them down like dirt in the streets.
7 But he does not agree with this, his mind does not reason this way, for his goal is to destroy, and to eliminate many nations.
8 Indeed, he says: “Are not my officials all kings?
9 Is not Calneh like Carchemish? Hamath like Arpad? Samaria like Damascus?
10 I overpowered kingdoms ruled by idols, whose carved images were more impressive than Jerusalem’s or Samaria’s.
11 As I have done to Samaria and its idols, so I will do to Jerusalem and its idols.”
12 But when the Lord finishes judging Mount Zion and Jerusalem, then I will punish the king of Assyria for what he has proudly planned and for the arrogant attitude he displays.
13 For he says: “By my strong hand I have accomplished this, by my strategy that I devised. I invaded the territory of nations, and looted their storehouses. Like a mighty conqueror, I brought down rulers.
14 My hand discovered the wealth of the nations, as if it were in a nest, as one gathers up abandoned eggs, I gathered up the whole earth. There was no wing flapping, or open mouth chirping.”
15 Does an ax exalt itself over the one who wields it, or a saw magnify itself over the one who cuts with it? As if a scepter should brandish the one who raises it, or a staff should lift up what is not made of wood!
16 For this reason the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will make his healthy ones emaciated. His majestic glory will go up in smoke.
17 The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One will become a flame; it will burn and consume the Assyrian king’s briers and his thorns in one day.
18 The splendor of his forest and his orchard will be completely destroyed, as when a sick man’s life ebbs away.
19 There will be so few trees left in his forest, a child will be able to count them.
20 At that time those left in Israel, those who remain of the family of Jacob, will no longer rely on a foreign leader that abuses them. Instead they will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will come back, a remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
22 For though your people, Israel, are as numerous as the sand on the seashore, only a remnant will come back. Destruction has been decreed; just punishment is about to engulf you.
23 The Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is certainly ready to carry out the decreed destruction throughout the land.
24 So here is what the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, says: “My people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of Assyria, even though they beat you with a club and lift their cudgel against you as Egypt did.
25 For very soon my fury will subside, and my anger will be directed toward their destruction.”
26 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is about to beat them with a whip, similar to the way he struck down Midian at the rock of Oreb. He will use his staff against the sea, lifting it up as he did in Egypt.
27 At that time the Lord will remove their burden from your shoulders, and their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be taken off because your neck will be too large.
28 They attacked Aiath, moved through Migron, depositing their supplies at Micmash.
29 They went through the pass, spent the night at Geba. Ramah trembled, Gibeah of Saul ran away.
30 Shout out, daughter of Gallim! Pay attention, Laishah! Answer her, Anathoth!
31 Madmenah flees, the residents of Gebim have hidden.
32 This very day, standing in Nob, they shake their fist at Daughter Zion’s mountain – at the hill of Jerusalem.
33 Look, the Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies, is ready to cut off the branches with terrifying power. The tallest trees will be cut down, the loftiest ones will be brought low.
34 The thickets of the forest will be chopped down with an ax, and mighty Lebanon will fall.