Signs of a Dying Nation (Isaiah 18; Isaiah 19)

Scripture reading – Isaiah 18; Isaiah 19

Isaiah’s prophecies of God’s judgment continue in today’s Scripture reading (Isaiah 18-19). We have so far considered the prophecies of God’s judgment against Assyria (10:24-34), Babylon (Isaiah 13-14), Moab (Isaiah 15-16), and Damascus of Syria (17:1-14).

Isaiah 18 describes God’s judgment against an unnamed nation (and it would be conjecture on my part to suggest a name).

Isaiah 18 – The Judgment of an Unnamed People

Beginning with the now familiar exclamation, “Woe,” we are told the nation that was to be judged was a “land shadowing with wings, Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (18:1).

Messengers, or ambassadors, were to be sent “by the sea” upon “vessels of bulrushes (18:2a). Those messengers were sent to a nation described in verse 2 as “scattered and peeled; To a people terrible from their beginning hitherto” (18:2b). Arguably, the recipient of that message of judgment could have been Assyria, because that nation’s soldiers were renowned for their cruelty.

Isaiah observes an “ensign” (banner) would be raised, and a trumpet would sound, calling the nations of the world to witness God’s judgment against Assyria (18:3). The LORD described Himself as patiently observing the plotting of Assyria (18:4), until He was ready to intervene. Employing a depiction of a farmer cutting back grapevines, the LORD announced His plan to cut away Assyria, and destroy its army (18:5). The bodies of slain soldiers would be left on the battlefield, and flesh-eating birds and wild beasts would feed upon them (18:6).

I believe Isaiah 18:7 is a prophetic picture of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ when the nations of the earth will be gathered to Jerusalem where the LORD reigns, “to the place of the name of the LORD of hosts, the mount Zion” (18:7).

Isaiah 19 – God’s judgment of Egypt is the subject of Isaiah 19.

The LORD is described as coming swiftly upon Egypt (19:1). I suggest there are two prophecies concerning Egypt that are stated in this chapter. The first is an imminent judgment (19:2-15), and the second a far-reaching prophecy whose setting may be during Christ’s reign during His Millennial Kingdom (19:16-25).

Eightfold Signs of a Dying Nation (19:2-15)

The judgment against Egypt is instructive, as it is a lesson in what becomes of a nation that opposes the LORD. Consider the following eight characteristics of a nation under the shadow of God’s judgment:

1) Division and civil war (19:2a)
2) Societal unrest (19:2b)
3) Political instability; the spirit of the nation is troubled (19:3a)
4) Empty, vain religion (19:3b)
5) Servitude to cruel, oppressive leaders (19:4)
6) Natural disasters: There was drought, as the Nile River and its tributaries dried up (19:5-6).
7) Economic failure (19:7-10) – Agriculture failed (19:7); fisherman unable to ply their trade to feed themselves or others (19:8); industry failed (textile and construction ceased, 19:9-10)
8) Foolish, incompetent leaders (politicians, 19:11-15)

Notice the evil and ungodly character of Egypt’s Leaders

They were “brutish,” and their counsel was foolish (19:11). They were ignorant of the LORD, His ways, and purpose (19:12-13). The LORD confounded them with a troublesome, confused, and “perverse spirit” (19:14-15). Their counsel was incoherent and unstable, like a staggering, drunken man (19:14). Lastly, all their counsel would come to nothing (19:15).

A Far-reaching Prophecy Concerning Egypt (19:16-25)

The closing prophecy has not been fulfilled, but it will come to pass at Christ’s Second Coming. In that day, Egypt will fear the LORD (19:15-17), and five cities of that nation will worship Him (19:18-19). While the LORD will “smite” Egypt, His chastening will move some to turn to Him (19:20-22).

In that day, the world will be at peace (19:23), and Israel will be a great nation, for the LORD will reign in Jerusalem (19:24). Then the LORD will claim Egypt as His people, and “Assyria the work of [His] hands (19:25).

Closing thoughts –Ponder the eight signs of a dying nation found in Isaiah 19:2-15. Do you see those traits in your community, nation, and world?

Our world is filled with turmoil, and civil unrest. There is political instability, and we find ourselves led by politicians who are as foolish as they are evil. Adding to our troubles is the threat of economic failure, inflation, limited material resources, and unemployment.

There is HOPE: In spite of our troubles, the LORD is no less Sovereign, and men can do nothing that exceeds His reach and will. The purpose of the LORD is established, and it will be accomplished.

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith