12 And this will happen: when the Lord has finished all his work against the mountain of Zion and Jerusalem, “I will punish the fruit of the king of Assyria’s proud heart and the pride of his high eyes. 13 Because he says, “I have accomplished this by the strength of my hand and by my wisdom, because I have understanding, and I have removed boundaries from peoples, and I have plundered their treasuries, and like a bull I have brought down those sitting on thrones. 14 And my hand has found, like a nest, the wealth of the peoples, and like the gathering of forsaken eggs, I myself have gathered all the land. And I encountered no fluttering wing or open mouth or tweet.” 15 Does the ax boast against the one who chops with it, or the saw magnify itself against one who moves it this way and that, like a rod waving even the one who lifts it up; like a staff lifting up him who is not wood? 16 For this reason, the Lord, Yahveh of armies, will send leanness among his bulky warriors, and under his glory a burning — like fire burning — will burn. 17 And the light of Israel will become like a fire, and his holy one like a flame, and it will burn and devour his thorn and brier in one day. 18 And he will destroy the glory of his forest and orchard soul and flesh, and it will be like the wasting away of an invalid. 19 And the surviving tree of his forest will be a small number, and a boy can record them.
Assyria was the superpower of Isaiah’s day, and nothing could stop it from assimilating the nations around it, including Israel. But Assyria was only a tool in the hand of Yahveh of armies. Once his work against Israel is finished, the LORD will punish that bragging ax. A fire will burn against that mighty land, and suddenly their trees will be depleted.
Such is the foolishness of being proud of what God is doing through me. My spiritual gifts are tools in the hands of the Lord. His Holy Spirit gave them to me, so he gets the credit for what they do. In the end, it is not the tools that matter, but the one really wielding them. His plan determines who is great, and how long they stay that way. So, perhaps we should be careful about seeking advice from those who appear to be successful in life or ministry. For Assyria, their success was purely incidental to God’s larger plan, and it had nothing to do with their strategies or morality. In fact, God revealed through Isaiah that Assyria’s success without humility led to their judgment and eventual defeat.
If we want to be permanently successful, we will have to learn what God wants to do, and do it faithfully.
LORD, show us your purpose, and allow us the honor of being involved in it.