Scripture reading – Isaiah 18; Isaiah 19

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We are in the second year of a two-year chronological Scripture reading schedule focused on ancient Israel and Judah’s historical biblical record. If we look closely, we can notice parallels to our day. We have so far considered the prophecies against Assyria (Isaiah 10:24-34), Babylon (Isaiah 13-14), Moab (Isaiah 15-16), and Damascus of Syria (Isaiah 17:1-14).

Isaiah’s prophecies of God’s judgment continue in today’s Scripture reading and will address Assyria, Egypt, and Israel (Isaiah 18-19).

Isaiah 18

The Judgment of an Unnamed People (Isaiah 18:1-2)

Isaiah 18 describes an imminent judgment against an unnamed nation. Beginning with the exclamation, “Woe,” we are told the nation that would be judged was a “land shadowing with wings, Which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia” (Isaiah 18:1). There has been much debate among scholars concerning the recipient of this prophecy. I believe ancient Ethiopia received the prophecy and that it was news concerning God’s judgment of Assyria.

In the prophecy, messengers or ambassadors, were to be sent “by the sea” upon “vessels of bulrushes (Isaiah 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” (Isaiah 18:2b). Some scholars suggest the scattered nation was Israel, but I am inclined to think that the people described as “terrible from the beginning” were the Assyrians. That nation’s soldiers were renowned for their cruelty.

God’s Summons and Judgment Against Assyria (Isaiah 18:3-6)

God’s Summons and Judgment Against Assyria (Isaiah 18:3-6)

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


The Millennial Kingdom of Christ (Isaiah 18:7)

Isaiah 18:7 is, I believe, 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” (Isaiah 18:7).


Isaiah 19


God’s judgment of Egypt (Isaiah 19:1)

The LORD’s description of judgment against Egypt is introduced as “The burden of Egypt” (Isaiah 19:1). The prophet declared the LORD would come upon Egypt as though riding “upon a swift cloud” (Isaiah 19:1), and “the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, And the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it” (Isaiah 19:1).

 There are two prophecies concerning Egypt that are stated in this chapter. The first is a prophecy of imminent judgment (Isaiah 19:2-15). The second is a far-reaching prophecy whose setting may be Christ’s reign during His Millennial Kingdom (Isaiah 19:16-25).

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

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

The judgment against Egypt is instructive, for 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 imminent judgment:

1) Division and civil war – “Egyptians against Egyptians” (Isaiah 19:2a)

2) Societal unrest – “Every one against his brother and against his neighbour” (Isaiah 19:2b)

3) Political instability – “The spirit [courage] of Egypt shall fail…I will destroy [confuse] the counsel thereof”  (Isaiah 19:3a)

4) Empty, vain religion – Turning to idols, consulting with those influenced by demons (Isaiah 19:3b)

5) Servitude to brutal, oppressive leaders – Loss of liberty (Isaiah 19:4)

6) Natural disasters: Drought as the Nile River and its tributaries dried up (Isaiah 19:5-6).

7) Economic failure: Agricultural failure (Isaiah 19:7); Fishermen unable to ply their trade and feed themselves or others (Isaiah 19:8); Industry failed (textile and construction ceased, Isaiah 19:9-10)

8) Foolish, incompetent leaders – I.e., foolish, incompetent bureaucrats (Isaiah 19:11-15)

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

The Millennial Kingdom: A Far-reaching Prophecy Concerning Egypt, Assyria, and Israel (Isaiah 19:16-25)

Our study concludes with a prophecy that has not been fulfilled but will come to pass at Christ’s Second Coming. On that day, Egypt will fear the LORD (Isaiah 19:16-17), and “the land of Judah” where Christ will reign will “be a terror” (Isaiah 19:17). It was revealed that “five cities in the land of Egypt [will] speak the language [Hebrew] of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 19:18). The LORD will “smite” Egypt. Still, His chastening will move some to turn to Him (Isaiah 19:20-22).

On that day, when Christ the LORD reigns in Jerusalem, the world will be at peace (Isaiah 19:23). There will be no borders, for there will be “a highway out of Egypt to Assyria…and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians” (Isaiah 19:23). The LORD will declare, “Blessed be Egypt my people, And Assyria the work of my hands, And Israel mine inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25).

The world will be at peace (Isaiah 19:23).

Closing thoughts –

Ponder the eight signs of a dying nation identified in Isaiah 19:2-15. Do you see the parallels to your community, nation, and world?

The world is filled with turmoil and civil unrest. There is universal political instability, and foolish politicians lead the nations. Adding to our troubles are bureaucrats who infringe on individual liberties with senseless policies that oppress our livelihoods, families, and society. The result is as it was for Egypt: Threats of economic failure, inflation, limited material resources, unemployment, and a growing sense of hopelessness and depression.

There is HOPE: Despite our troubles, the LORD is no less sovereign, and men can do nothing that exceeds His reach and will. Be confident that the purpose of the LORD is established, and it will be accomplished.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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