It’s arbitrary to put these chapter together in that the Lord’s judgment against these nations goes on through chapter 24, but there are some interesting tidbits among these chapters that reveal the nature of God’s redemptive purposes. In chapter 16 seemingly out of nowhere we read these words:
5 In love a throne will be established,
in faithfulness a man will sit on it–
one from the house of David–
one who in judging seeks justice
and speeds the cause of righteousness.”
Right in the middle of verses about judgment. Just a little reminder from the Lord that in spite of all the horror to come, that he’s got a plan. And it will come to pass. And who establishes a throne, a rule, in love? How counter intuitive is that! Despite all the judgment to come that will reveal and prove God’s power, it will not be power that establishes his throne. It will be love, and we know how that will be displayed: For God so loved the world . . . It is the king giving himself in exchange for his enemies that they might become his subjects, and obviously more than that, adopted into the royal family. Amazing grace, indeed!
Again in the middle of all this judgement we read this from chapter 17:
7 In that day people will look to their Maker
and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
8 They will not look to the altars,
the work of their hands,
and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles
and the incense altars their fingers have made.
This is in context of judgment against Damascus. Out of the blue we’re told of a day when these people God is judging will look to their judge as their God. They will acknowledge who their maker is, and that it is Israel’s God who will be their God. This future is confirmed yet again at the end of chapter 19:
22 The Lord will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the Lord, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them.
23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. 25 The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”
There’s that phrase again, “In that day.” All throughout the OT, God is pointing forward to let us know that judgment is not the end of the story, that there will come a time when even Israel’s enemies will become part of the family. Our God is a God who heals, who listens to the pleas of his people, who makes his people his “handiwork.” We, his people, from every tribe and language and nation, are the work of his hands. There will be left no doubt who it is who does the saving.