Friday, February 4, 2011

Blessed Be Egypt, My People

In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD of Hosts. One of these will be called the City of Destruction.

In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of Hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. And the LORD will make Himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of Hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:19-25 ESV)
This is an amazing promise Yahweh of Armies (“the LORD of Hosts”) spoke through the prophet Isaiah. The whole chapter is about Egypt. It is like a good news/bad news story. The first seventeen verses speak of the divine judgment that would come upon Egypt, but then it suddenly takes a wonderful turn, a gospel turn, and prophesies salvation for Egypt.
  • It speaks particularly of five cities, though not by name, except for one. The Hebrew for “City of Destruction” sounds very much like that for “City of the Sun,” and some ancient versions of this text render it as the latter. This would be a reference to the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis (“City of the Sun”), the site of which lies under the northern portion of modern Cairo. These five cities will speak the language of Canaan, possibly a reference to Hebrew, the language Israel spoke in Canaan, and they will swear allegiance to Yahweh of Hosts.
  • Worship of Yahweh will be central in the land of Egypt, and His honor will extend throughout, even to the borders. These will be a sign and a continuing witness to Yahweh in the land.
  • They will cry out to Yahweh and He will send a savior who will defend and deliver them.
  • Yahweh will make Himself known to the Egyptians, and they will acknowledge, give thanks devote themselves to Him.
  • Yahweh will “strike” Egypt with the purpose of healing. Think, for example, of a surgeon who slices into his patient and removes a cancer so that the patient may be healed. This “striking” will cause them to turn to Yahweh and call on Him, so that He can show them His mercy and heal them.
  • There will be peace between Egypt and the Assyria, her enemy. Though the Assyrians are now scattered throughout the Middle East, both they and the Egyptians will worship Yahweh together.
  • God will bless all three — Israel, Egypt and Assyria — in the land. Egypt was the ancient enemy who once held Israel in captivity. Assyria was Israel’s current enemy. The wonder of this prophecy is not that judgment would come upon Egypt, as upon Assyria and also Israel (foretold earlier in Isaiah), but that salvation would come to all three together in the worship of Yahweh, the God with whom Israel was in covenant.
Various Bible commentators have identified events in history they believe fulfill this prophecy, at least in part. Perhaps, but I believe there is a greater fulfillment coming, and it is for this I know pray. The coming of King Jesus the Messiah into the world was not just for Israel but also for the whole world. He is the One sent by God to be the savior, defender and deliverer of all. Even His name, which in Hebrew is Yeshua, means “salvation.” Before He ascended to His throne at the right hand of the Father, Jesus commissioned the Church to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

So, this has been my intercession for Egypt is recent days: That God will remember His ancient promise. That He will send the Savior, the Defender, the Deliverer — Jesus the Messiah — and make Himself known to them. That He will say, “Blessed be Egypt, My people.”