18 In that day five cities in Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD Almighty. One of them will be called the City of Destruction.
19 In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border.20 It will be a sign and witness to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them. 21 So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they will acknowledge the LORD. They will worship with sacrifices and grain offerings; they will make vows to the LORD and keep them. 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.”
Common Prophecy, Uncommon Intention
Isaiah 19 begins in much the same vein as the passages that came before it, a prophecy towards Egypt that their day of reckoning and humbling will come. That is what we found in Isaiah 18…and 17…and 16…and 13. And once you get to this prophecy against Egypt, you begin to get a little complacent and think to yourself, “Yeah, yeah yeah, more prophecies against nations, this is nothing different.”
But what I’ve learned is to always be patient with Scripture, because it will always surprise you.
When you get to the end of Isaiah 19, you see God’s ultimate intention in punishing these nations – so that they, even the foreign nations, would be brought into the Kingdom of God. There is this implication in verse 22 that even the plagues of Egpyt served a greater purpose, not just in freeing the people of Israel, but trying to force Egypt to acknowledge and be healed by God. We have to keep in mind that God punishes as a good father or mother does – with greater purposes in mind. He did not strike Egypt viciously and with no cause…he did so to free both Israel and Egypt.
And then, this amazing final verse, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” All people of earth belong to God, are God’s children. All nations are his creation. And his desire is for all the peoples of this earth to be in perfect relationship with Him once more. And this is what we read in the famous John 3:16 verse, that God so loved the world (translated, the universe), that he would give his only Son, so that whoever believes in him, would not perish, but have eternal life. Jesus is the gift to all nations.
One final note: some of the oldest churches in the world are Egyptian. In the first century, in the early church, Egyptians embraced the gospel and became the Coptic church. Although much of Egypt has converted to Islam, the Coptic church still survives to this very day, and even has large churches in the Virginia area. The prophecies of Isaiah, and the intentions of God, have been fulfilled and are continuing to be fulfilled to this very day.
1. God never punishes without purpose – if he has punished (or is punishing!) you, what is his purpose?
2. Egpyt and Assyria were the enemies of Israel. Who are your “enemies”, and how does this passage change your view of them?
3. Have you ever had an been blessed by an encounter with a very different type of Christian or Christianity than you were comfortable with?