Friday, March 13, 2015

Egypt In The Last Days

Isaiah 19:1-25

“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.  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.  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.” (Isaiah 19:1-3)

When Abraham went to Egypt near the middle of the Old Kingdom, around 2250 BC, it appears the Egyptians still had an awareness of God, if not actually worshipping him, as we see in Genesis 12.   Two hundred years later, When the Jews moved to Egypt during the first intermediate period, the Pharaoh in Joseph’s day still had some knowledge of the Lord but the next one turned completely away.  About three hundred or three hundred fifty years after the Exodus, during Egypt’s New Kingdom, Amenhotep IV(1353-1335 BC) became Pharaoh.  His queen, Nefertiti, was not of royal blood and probably not Egyptian.  He changed his name to Akhenaten and tried to convert the Egyptians to a religion very similar to that of the Jews, if not actually to worship God.  After his death, every effort was made to obliterate all records of his reign. 

About three hundred years later, Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter and established regular communications.  There was constant contact, sometimes a allies and others as enemies until Nebuchadnezzar conquered both Judah and Egypt about 600-550 BC, more than a hundred years after this prophecy.   

“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.  And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.  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.

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.  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.  Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.  And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.” (Isaiah 19:4-10)

Like the other prophecies thus far in Isaiah, the main prophecy is for the time of the Lord’s return rather than the immediate future.  While there have been droughts and Egypt has been ruled by various other Empires, there has never been a time that I have found when the Nile was relocated or they couldn’t catch fish and irrigate some of their crops.  As we saw in Isaiah 11:11-12:6, however, when the Lord returns there will be a huge earthquake that will change the course of the Nile, breaking it into smaller streams, and destroying much of the swamp land and irrigation as well as the fishing industry.

Jeremiah and Ezekiel warned that any who opposed Nebuchadnezzar would be destroyed completely.  Egypt heeded that warning, yielding easily to the Babylonian.   As a result under Babylon they did not have much trouble.  About 525BC the fought and were defeated by the Persians under Cambyses.  When Alexander the Great died, and his kingdom was split, Egypt became the head of the southern kingdom and continued until Cleopatra was executed by the Roman Empire shortly before the birth of Christ for her attempt to rebel against Rome, at the urging of Egyptian leaders.   Egypt has never recovered her former power since that time.

“Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?  Where are they? where are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.  The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.  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.” (Isaiah 19:11-14)

Egypt’s collapse and downfall was instigated by priests and royal family members hoping to restore Egypt to her former glory.  Cleopatra’s advisors foolishly misled the people into believing that the Romans were into really interested in control of Egypt and that by gaining Marc Anthony’s support they would be easily driven back and would not bother to try again.  They simply ignored what Rome had done to other countries which opposed them.  Even that is only a partial fulfillment of the prophecy.    The complete fulfillment will not come until the Lord returns, when Egypt’s leaders will initially encourage them to support the Antichrist’s forces against Israel, tricking them into believing he will be victorious.

“Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.  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.  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.” (Isaiah 19:15-17)

When the Lord sets up his Millennial Kingdom, ruling with a rod of iron, Egypt will be terrified of offending God because they see what God has promised for them.   Even today, Egypt and the countries around Israel live with a fear of what Israel may do to them, just as Israel fears them. 
“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.  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.  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.  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.  And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them.” (Isaiah 19:18-22)

When the Lord sets up his kingdom, Egypt will turn to God and to Israel, even adopting the language and religion, as Amenhotep tried to do thousands of years before.    God will smite and weaken Egypt, but he will restore them, answering their prayers when they turn to him.

“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.  In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:  Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.” (Isaiah 19:23-25)

As we saw in Isaiah 11:11-12:6 the earthquake when the Lord returns will reroute the Euphrates and Nile rivers and apparently fill in the Gulf of Suez while opening a channel between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.  As a result a highway will be established that after the battle of Armageddon, will allow easy travel between Egypt and Assyria, passing through Israel.  Egypt, Israel and Assyria will form a strong alliance dedicated to worshipping God.  

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