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Isaiah 19 and 20 (Egypt)

Isaiah's oracles against the nation continues with Egypt. I haven't read the passage yet, but I have learned in my scripture reading that Egypt is almost always a symbol of false help and hope and a symbol of slavery, as well as a symbol of "the world". I'll be very curious to see any end time references in these two chapters.


Chapter 19

Verse 1

The oracle concerning Egypt

  • The Lord is riding on a swift cloud
  • is about to come to Egypt
  • the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence
  • the heart of Egypt will melt within them

It's interesting that idols (things with no life, except maybe a demon) will tremble. And Egypt will be afraid of the Lord.

The first verse was a description from Isaiah, but the second verse begins the words from the Lord.

  • I will incite Egyptian against Egyptian
  • brother and neighbors fighting
  • city versus city and kingdom versus kingdom

This is a description of civil war. And God is claiming credit for it. America is turning on one another- openly taking sides with the gap between the two sides widening rapidly. Many of my Christian friends and I have attributed it to the enemy, and I think he is responsible for a lot of it. However, it is worth remembering that the enemy cannot touch us without God's permission.

Verses 3-10 list specific outcomes, consequences, and judgements that the Egyptians will experience.

  • Their spirit will be demoralized within them
  • He will confound their strategy
  • they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead, mediums, and spiritualists
  • they will be delivered into the hands of a cruel master, a mighty king ruling over them (Ryrie identifies this ruler as Esarhaddon of Assyria, who conquered Egypt in 671.)
  • the waters of the sea will dry up, parched and dry (Nile)
  • canals will emit stench, streams will thin out and dry up
  • reeds and rushes will rot away
  • the fields that were fed by the Nile will dry up and blow away
  • fishermen will lament and mourn, and pine
  • linen manufacturers and weavers will be dejected

And the pillars of Egypt will be crushed; all the hired laborers will be grieved in soul.

Isaiah 19:10

Can we see it yet? Can we finally let this truth sink deep into our souls? "Religion" affects everything. The work we do, what we wear, our sources of food and water, and our sense of community. It matters Who and What you worship. And it really matters if a whole nation fails to acknowledge God. We go about our daily lives and think religion is something that is one of many aspects of our lives. But God's provision is all around us, being taken for granted. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. This drought will affect every part of the economy.

We must daily, and sometimes moment-by-moment, acknowledge Him and that all the good things all around us are from Him and can be taken at His will.

In verses 11-15, the Lord turns His focus to the leaders.

  • The princes of Zoan are fools
  • the advise of the wisest Pharaoh's advisors is stupid
  • where are your wise men?
  • "...let them understand what the Lord of hosts has purposed against Egypt." (Yikes)
  • the princes of Zoan have acted foolishly
  • the princes of Memphis are deluded
  • the tribes cornerstones have led them astray
  • The Lord has mixed in a spirit of distortion
  • They have led Egypt astray in all it does; as a drunken man staggers in his vomit (wow. That's quite a metaphor for the status of the world in end times)
  • There will be no work for Egypt.

The world famous wise men will be utterly confused against the actions of the Lord of hosts. All of the decisions that got them into this disaster have also led the common people into this disaster. They will be left broken and without the "powers" they used to enjoy. Again, this could be you and me. Don't take worldly success as evidence that God is okay with your straying. It accumulates and, eventually, you will be held to account. And all of the "powers", that you thought were your personal talents and efforts, will fail you.

In verses 16-20 the Lord goes on to describe life in this new reality for Egypt in that day. (MacArthur specifies that "in that day" is Christ's millennial kingdom.)

  • They will tremble and be fearful and full of dread (like women) when the Lord of hosts waves His hand. (We think we have so much control over things; and some groups want the government to have control over everything, but the Lord of hosts simply waves His hand or says a Word- and illusion of control melts away.)
  • Judah will become a terror to Egypt; the Lord of hosts will make them dread even hearing the name of Judah.
  • All of this terror and bad news finally starts to grow into God's good purpose in verse 18: Five cities in Egypt will begin to speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts! (one of these cities will be called the City of Destruction.)
  • There will be an altar to the Lord in the land a pillar to the Lord near the border! (Praise be to the Lord.)

And it will become a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them.

Isaiah 19:20

Wow. What a beautiful promise. The "world" will experience the loss of His provision to drive to Him those who will be saved through the Savior and Champion sent to them. Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus- my Savior and Champion. Thank you Lord that you did not leave me in my delusion, but you brought me out and delivered me!

I'm taking a women's bible study titled The Five Aspects of Woman (Barbara K. Mouser). It's a theological look at femininity. In it she writes about why God allows us to suffer, both from the curse and from sin. She makes the very compelling point that every God does is toward redemption for all who would choose to be redeemed by the work of His Son. Suffering is a second (or hundredth) chance to choose Him- unlike Adam and Eve, who chose self.

We see that principle at work in these verses. When all of Egypt suffered, some turned to the Lord and not just a passing word, but allegiance and worship at the altar.

Suffering will make us turn further from God or towards Him. Choose wisely.

Verse 21-22 goes on to show the change that will come over Egypt because of the Lord of hosts.

  • He will make Himself known to Egypt (because Israel, Judah, and the Egyptian leaders failed to bring His name to them.)
  • They will worship and sacrifice to Him
  • They will make a vow and perform it

And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them.

Isaiah 19:22

In verses 23-25, in an utterly unexpected turn of events, Isaiah then shares this oracle of the Lord.

  • there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria
  • Egypt and Assyrians will move back and forth
  • They will worship together!
  • Israel will join in this blessing as the third party- a blessing to the earth

...whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed is Egypt, My people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel, My inheritance."

Isaiah 19:25

That's us, folks! God is planning to bring His Chosen, plus the world, including the worst enemies, together and Save them for His good purposes. To Bless the earth.

Wiersbe points out that Egypt and modern Assyria, Iraq, are predominantly Muslim. This promise is not only for peace in the Middle East, but also redemption of a large populations of Muslims. What a beautiful hope.

Sing Hallelujah and praise the Lord. It's almost Christmas around here, and although I know the celebration date is arbitrary, the established opportunity to recognize the fundamental, seismic shift that comes with the Savior and Champion is beautiful. A child was born to us to fulfill this promise of redemption of Israel, the world, and even the most vile enemy. So hard to fathom, but so life giving.

Chapter 20

To me, this chapter reads like a separate scroll. A different set of circumstances. It's still related to Egypt, but not the same message or time as Chapter 19.

Verse 1 identifies a specific year by the event of Sargon (Sargon II), king of Assyria, sends a commander (Tartan) to Ashdod (largest port in Israel) and captured it.

The Lord speaks through Isaiah, who is instructed to go three years naked and barefoot (only a loincloth), as a metaphor and warning to Egypt and Ethiopia (Cush) that they, too, were heading toward being naked and barefoot as prisoners of war to Assyria. Their butts would be uncovered and they would be shamed.

Verse 5 specifically points out that they will be ashamed that they had their hope in Cush and their boast in themselves.

From all of this, the people of Ashdod (Hebrews) will face the reality that they put their hope in Egypt and Cush- despite the fact that God very clearly warned them not to.

Just a reminder this portion is related to the Ashdod rebellion mentioned in Chapter 18. An Ethiopian ruler swept through and unified Egypt. Moab and Edom wanted to make an alliance with Egypt to save them from Assyria. Judah was invited to join, but Isaiah was against it- trying to remind the people to trust the Lord, not Egypt.

Our hearts seems to be drawn to Egypt (the world) to save us. From the minute they were saved from slavery in Egypt, the people longed for what they imaged Egypt to represent. And even though the Lord warned them against trusting Egypt, with a promise that He would save them...some looked back longingly and trusted in the world. I wonder if we do that because we think the world will ask less of us than the Lord will. We will get "money for nothin' and the chicks for free", as the old rock song promises.

But we should know by now, a few millenniums later, that what the Lord asks is everything. He does want us to submit completely- but from that we gain salvation through that faith. The world wants us too, and from that we become separated from God- our Savior and Champion. Choose wisely.

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