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Isaiah's prophecy against Egypt
A case study in judgment somehow ending in mercy
Isaiah 19

See Jeremiah 46, Ezekiel 29-32

Today we are going to study Isaiah 19 together

Isaiah 19 begins as a prophecy of judgment against Egypt; yet it ends with those judged worshipping God in gladness and joy

Of note, this prophecy forms a part of a series of judgments announced first on Israel and then the nations.

Some facts about Egypt

-Egypt is the oldest country in the world
-It is currently a Muslim state
-There is a sizeable Christian population in Egypt (Because of Islam they are persecuted)
-In the last 50 years Israel has soundly defeated the Egyptians twice (1967, 1973)
-Over the centuries Egypt has been both ally and enemy to Israel
-Up until recent times there have been significant, appreciated, and influential Jewish populations in Egypt. Currently there are barely any Jews in Egypt
-For a time Abraham lived in Egypt with Sarah
-For 430 years the Israelites lived in Egypt (first as free people, then as slaves)
-After 10 plagues, by the hand of God, Eygpt let Israel go. From there she went to the land God had promised her. This act of deliverance is still celebrated. It's called Passover.
-After leaving Egypt, Israel wanted to go back. God forbade it. God also forbade Israel from making alliances with Egypt. Despite this, they did anyways
-When the Babylonians invaded Israel in 586 B.C, many Israelites fled to Egypt.
-Jeremiah the prophet ended his days in Egypt
-Jesus spent time in Egypt, due to the attempt of Herod to kill him
-By the prophecy of Ezekiel 29:13-16, Egypt will never be a world power again.
-In 160 BC a Jewish Temple was built in Egypt
-The prophecy of Isaiah 19 indicates that the Egyptians are part of God's salvation plan. There is a future for Egypt in the salvation plans of God.

Read text

LESSONS, QUESTIONS, PRINCIPLES

1. Do you have questions about the reliability and truthfulness of the Bible?

Trust the Bible! History records the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy against Egypt

Note the details,

a. Civil war, brother against brother, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. (fulfilfilled 670 B.C)
b. The Egyptians handed over to a cruel master v.4 (Fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar,then the Persians in the centuries to come)
c. The Nile to dry up, Famine, Mass unemployment due to the rivers failing
d. The wisdom of Egypt's wisemen frustrated(and the wisemen of Egypt were known the world over)
e. The conversion of 5 cities to worship of God. v.18 (Alexander settled many Jews in Egypt. At least 1 million Jews in Egypt by estimates of Philo) See also Jeremiah 44 which speaks of 5 cities being inhabited by Jews
f. An altar in the heart of Eygpt, a monument to the LORD at it's border v.19 (Fulfillled: Temple constructed in 160 B.C). History records that 2 Jewish Temples were built in Egypt (one at Leontopolis, the other at Elephantine) Note: According to the Talmud, the Leontopolis was favorably viewed by the Jews at the time and it was believed that it was generally believed to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 19). This Temple, built by the high priest Onias IV, stood for 200 years, being destroyed by the Romans in A.D 73- around the time the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed.
g A highway connecting Israel, Egypt, Assryia (all enemies with eachother) (Fulfilfilled under Alexander the Great in the 300's BC)

As it regards this prophecy, the majority of it has been fulfilled (some parts still remain). The words of Isaiah came true, just as declared.


2. Why did God announce judgment on Egypt? Why in the book of Isaiah does God have Isaiah prophecy against so many nations?

ANSWER: BECAUSE EVERYONE IS ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD FOR THE WAY THEY LIVE

In particular, God announced judgment on Egypt for her witchcraft, her idol worship, her refusal to turn to Him for guidance, for her self reliance, for her pride, and for her role as oppressor.

Hebrews 9:27 says; "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,"

2 Corinthians 5:10 says; "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

Are you ready to meet God? He does not and will let sin go unpunished. The only way to stand before Him in confidence is to stand in Christ- who took the punishment for our sins upon the cross. To stand before God apart from Christ is to stand before God with our sins unforgiven and under judgement. Do you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord?

3. Does God have any purposes in judgment beyond the punishment of sin?

ANSWER: God has redemptive purposes as pertains to judgment and the punishment of sin.

Note the results of God's striking of Egypt: v.18 "Allegiance sworn to God", the worship of God v.19,21, repentance v.22, blessing v.25

When it comes to judgment people often misunderstand why God is doing it and the purposes of it.

God judges because He is holy and sin and wickedness must be punished. The justice of God demands it. God judges and punishes that he might get peoples attention and turn their hearts to Him.

An interesting verse: Isaiah 26:9-10 "When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness." NOTE the contrast and ultimately the beautiful effect of God's actions.

Application:

At times God brings and uses hardship, pain, and trials to get our attention and turn our hearts to Him.

In their distress they will turn to God (not in their prosperity, not in their self confidence, not while feeling strong)

4. If God can save a city called "The city of Destruction" then no one who repents and puts their faith in Christ is beyond the forgiveness and mercy of God. v.18

Note: There is a play on words because "City of the Sun" and "City of Destruction" are only separated by one hebrew letter. Note also that the city of the Sun served as the chief center for the Egyptians worship of the so called sun god.

The city of Destruction spared: Evidence of the incredible mercy of God. v.18

God's saving of this city also reminds me of Ninevah and how it was spared because the people repented and turned to God)

5. ISAIAH 19 POINTS TO JESUS

A. The Savior of v.20 in the fullest sense is Jesus.

Note: While on one hand v.20 can be viewed as fulfilled when Alexander the Great liberated the Egyptians from the Persians, it's more than this. The ultimate fulfillment is in Jesus.
Jesus is the one and true Savior. Jesus is the defender and protector of his sheep. Jesus is the one alone who can rescue a soul from Hell.

As we are told of Christ in Matthew 1:21 "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

1 Timothy 1:15a says; "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"

B. In Christ enemies are made friends - friends who worship God together.

The picture of v.23-25 with Assyria, Egypt, and Israel worshipping God together is descriptive of the kingdom of Christ and it's effect upon people's lives.


6. THERE ARE ASPECTS OF ISAIAH'S PROPHECY THAT REMAIN TO BE FULFILLED

Such will be fulfilled in the coming reign of Christ on Earth -- as also prophesied in Revelation 20, Psalm 2, Zechariah 14, etc.


CONCLUSION: A REMINDER OF WHERE WE'VE BEEN TODAY

1. Trust the Bible. History records the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy of judgment against Egypt
2. The announcements of judgment against the nations by Isaiah reminds us that God holds all people accountable for the way they live their lives before Him. Everyone will appear before Him to give an account. The only way that one can stand confidently, is in relationship with Christ
3. When God judges, whether it be by war, famine, earthquakes, hurricanes, tragedy, etc, he often does so with redemptive purposes in mind. God often uses such things to get peoples attention, that they might repent and live and experience His forgiveness and grace
4. If God is willing to save a city called the "City of Destruction" then you know that His mercy is wide and deep enough to save any who would humble themselves and cast themselves upon the grace and mercy of Christ
5. Isaiah 19 points to Jesus. i.e The Savior of v.20 in the fullest sense is Jesus. In Christ sinful people are reconciled to God and hence join together as friends in the worship of God
6. There are aspects of Isaiah's prophecy that remain to be fulfilled. Such will be fulfilled in the coming reign of Christ on earth