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Isaiah 19, and a sick Egypt

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Submitted by Michael S (United States), Sep 7, 2015 at 17:46

Hi, Mark

This is interesting... You seem to think that Egypt is a very hopeful place -- which, of course, I agree with, since I too beleve Isaiah 19 pertains to the not-too-distant future. I see trouble, though, even in those verses. What do you day of this:

[1] The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
[2] And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.
[3] And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.
[4] And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

As with some other prophecies written over 2000 years ago, this one may span a great period of time. I wonder if we can date the time of the "fierce king" Isaiah was talking about. Off the top of my head, I would guess the prophet is referring to the king of Assyria, which the Bible describes as a cruel nation. Many of the prophecies in the adjoining chapters foretell the Assyrian invasion of the Levant and Egypt. If we can agree that this is the time Isaiah was talking about, then the "idols, charmers, etc." also pertain to Egyptian practices in those pre-Christian days. Let's move on...

5] And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.
[6] And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.
[7] The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.
[8] The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.
[9] Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.
[10] And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.

I'm glad I'm examining this alongside you, because I have never peered deeply into these things until now. Many modern expositors look at these events a being literal and eschatalogical, namely, referring to the "end times". Since we have dated the verses immediately preceding to the lifetime of Isaiah, though, it might be more appropriate to to look at them metaphorically. The prophet is essentially saying here, speaking of the Assyrian period in Egypt, that circumstances would be extremely difficult. Moving on...

[14] The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.
[15] Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.

...more of the same. Egypt has suffered more than one episode such as this. The next verses are interesting, though, because they speak of a STRONG Israel getting involved in the affairs of Egypt:

[16] In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.
[17] And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

That conjures up in my mind, the debacles of 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973 In the last of these episodes, the whole Egyptian Second Army found itself surrounded in the Sinai wilderness without food or water, and Sadat had to sue for peace. From the time of Isaiah until 1948, I don't believe there was any episode like that. Going on,

[18] In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction [possibly Heliopolis].

That has NEVER happened; so it must speak about something in the future, possibly the near future...

[19] In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.
[20] And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.
[21] And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.
[22] And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.
[23] In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.
[24] In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
[25] Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

Those, no doubt, are the favorable words that you referred to, which God spoke through Isaiah concerning Egypt. They are words concerning the future, when Egypt, Israel and Iraq (at least the Sunni part) and the connecting lands will all be at peace with one another. The Begin-Sadat treaty of 1979, and the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian treaty were certainly steps in that direction; but we are far from seeing the good relations mentioned in Isaiah 19:19-25.

When the people of Heliopolis begin speaking Hebrew, I will be hopeful that things have changed; but until then, I see nothing but trouble for Egypt... and yes, I foresee desperate times there in the not-too-distant future.

You mentioned China. My daughter and grandchildren live there, so you can see that I am deeply invested in the place. You tailked about the "crash". That might be news to the rest of the world, but my son-in-law began dealing with it about nine months ago, when the rest of the world was blissfully unaware of the changes going on. China didn't "crash", by the way. When they do, I'll try to let you know if you're interested. You said you are impressed with a $10 billion arms purchase by the Egyptians. China seems to be on course to spen 15 times that in the coming year, all with its own money. China also leads the world in GDP/PPP. Egypt ranks 25th. I don't expect the latter to overtake the former, any time soon. Of course, anything could happen in future. No place in the world is really secure.

My son-in-law trades all over the world, from Estonia to Namibia to Brazil, and is very astute in his dealings. He has even visited Turkey, as part of an official delegation, and spent time in Dubai; but one place he definitely shies away from is Egypt: The place seems like a time bomb, ready to explode. It seems that nearly every day, I read about another bombing or ambush of the security forces. If Egypt were really the beacon of hope you present it as, those refugees who are now pouring into Europe would be pouring into Egypt -- where they share, to a large degree, a common language and religion.

That's how I see it, from my point of view; and I live in the US. You apparently also live in the US, so I wonder why you seem to see matters so differently. Do you have family in Egypt, reporting to you about the splendid conditions there? Or are you relying on the media? Worse still, you may just be spouting out proud, empty words. I hope that isn't the case.

I am eagerly awaiting the day that Isaiah 19:18-25 is fulfilled. Egypt will not enjoy those verses, though, until it comes to some accomodation with Israel. That, after all, is the whole basis for those promises. Is Egypt desperate? Egypt is sick, extremely sick; and the name of its sickness is Jew-Hatred. When the mullahs who spew out hatred of Israel every Friday are put in their place -- preferably before firing squads -- perhaps a new day will dawn in that unfortunate place.


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