Glory, Wrath, and Power (Isaiah 37:35-36)

Isaiah 37:35-36 – “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.

In two verses of the Bible, we learn three major truths about our God that many people do not fully grasp. Here in Isaiah 37:35-36, we find ourselves at the end of a crisis situation for Jerusalem. The Assyrian army, a brutal force, is preparing to attack. The people of Jerusalem have no chance to stand before their attackers. Yet, God promises something special. God promises that the Assyrians will not overrun Jerusalem.

Now, to the things we learn about God. First, look at the reasoning that God gives for saving the city of Jerusalem. Many people think that, if God helps a person, it is because that person has done enough good things to earn God’s help and protection. But in Isaiah 37:35, God declares that he will protect Jerusalem for the sake of his own name and for the sake of his promises made to David. God is acting, in this setting, for the sake of promoting and protecting his own reputation, his own glory.

Thus, the first lesson that we must learn is the lesson continually repeated throughout the scriptures: God’s top priority is God’s own glory. When God acts, he acts for his glory. When God fulfills his promises, he fulfills them to his glory. When God loves us, he loves us in such a way that displays his glory. Because God loves us, he allows us to behold his infinitely wondrous glory. Everything that exists does so for the glory of God. Let us learn from this that all of life, all of who we are must be centered on the glory of God if it is to be what it is intended to be.

Secondly, we learn that there is a genuine wrath of God. When God’s glory is assaulted as it was by the Assyrian king’s arrogance, he responds very strongly. God sent an avenging angel to destroy those who would dare attack the city that held the temple of God. And if that was true then, it is still true now. We do not dishonor the name and glory of God without doing so at great risk. Perhaps we do not see God send angels to destroy armies as much today as we might have seen during the formative days of Israel; yet, it is still dangerous, infinitely dangerous, to dishonor God. He is concerned about his glory, and we dare not affront him.

Thirdly, in this passage, we see a glimpse of the mighty power of God. In one evening, God sent one angel, one servant of his, to take on an army of 185,000. There was no fight. There was no close call. There was no battle. There was no escape. An entire 185,000 soldiers fell before the angel of God. If God can take out 185,000 in one night without breaking a sweat, we had better understand that his power is far beyond what we often ponder. We would do very well to keep the awesome might of God in the front of our minds as we live out our daily lives.

In two verses of the Bible, we are reminded that God is focused on his own glory, that God has a frightening wrath toward those who dishonor that glory, and that God has the power to enforce his will and fulfill his promises. This God we serve is awesome. He is glorious. His glory is the most important thing in the world. And we, if we are wise, will rightly reverence and fear him. IF we are wise, we will give him glory with all that we have. Even if we are in Christ and freed from any danger of his wrath, let us never fail to give our God the glory due his name.