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Frameworks: Isaiah 19: A prophecy against Egypt


v.1-16 The Downfall of Egypt proclaimed

v.17-21 Judah's Power, Egypt's weakness

v.22-25 Recap and outcome – the Three Peoples revealing God


[Introductory Comment: The prophecy that follows initially brings recollections of the state of Egypt in the days of Moses, a country full of gods and idol worship. As the headings above show, the first part declares the downfall of Egypt that will come about through civil strife and failure of the occult [v.1-3], an Invader [v.4], and a drought that will mean the Nile that fed the nation's fishermen and farmers will dry up [v.5-10], thus devastating their economy. As so often when God intervenes, all the wisdom of man is shown to be foolish and helpless [v.11-16]. In what appears to be subsequent to this, Judah will be given a new powerful role that will dominate Egypt [v.17-21] but then the Lord will elevate Egypt, Assyria and Judah, all having a relationship with Him and revealing Him to the rest of the world [v.22-25]. It would appear that this is again a last-days prophecy, a prophecy that starts off with Egypt being humiliated but then raised up with two other peoples to glorify God.]



PART ONE: 1-16: The Downfall of Egypt proclaimed


v.1 God comes against idolatry

v.1 (Egypt's idolatry should fear before God) A prophecy against Egypt:

See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud
    and is coming to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
    and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.



v.2-4 Civil war will erupt, their idols will fall & an Invader come


v.2 (God will cause civil war in Egypt) ‘I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian –
    brother will fight against brother,
    neighbour against neighbour,
    city against city,
    kingdom against kingdom.
v.3 (All of their idolatry will come to nothing) The Egyptians will lose heart,
    and I will bring their plans to nothing;
they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead,
    the mediums and the spiritists.

v.4 (Egypt will be handed over to an invader) I will hand the Egyptians over
    to the power of a cruel master,
and a fierce king will rule over them,'
    declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.



v.5-10 A drought will devastate their economy


v.5 (The Nile [that they worship] will suffer) The waters of the river will dry up,
    and the river bed will be parched and dry.
v.6  The canals will stink;
    the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up.
The reeds and rushes will wither,
v.7   also the plants along the Nile,
    at the mouth of the river.
Every sown field along the Nile
    will become parched, will blow away and be no more.
v.8 (Even the fishermen will anguish) The fishermen will groan and lament,
    all who cast hooks into the Nile;
those who throw nets on the water
    will pine away.
v.9 (The nearby crop-lands will suffer) Those who work with combed flax will despair,
    the weavers of fine linen will lose hope.
v.10 (Those who rely on them will suffer) The workers in cloth will be dejected,
    and all the wage earners will be sick at heart.



v.11-16 All their leaders will be helpless to stop it


v.11 (Pharaoh's wise men will be shown to be fools) The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools;
    the wise counsellors of Pharaoh give senseless advice.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
    ‘I am one of the wise men,
    a disciple of the ancient kings'?

v.12 (The ‘wise men' will be shown up) Where are your wise men now?
    Let them show you and make known
what the Lord Almighty
    has planned against Egypt.
v.13 (Their administrative leaders are no help) The officials of Zoan have become fools,
    the leaders of Memphis are deceived;
the cornerstones of her peoples
    have led Egypt astray.
v.14 (They will all be in confusion) The Lord has poured into them
    a spirit of dizziness;
they make Egypt stagger in all that she does,
    as a drunkard staggers around in his vomit.
v.15 (There is no one who can help) There is nothing Egypt can do – head or tail, palm branch or reed.

v.16 (The nation will become weak) In that day the Egyptians will become weaklings. They will shudder with fear at the uplifted hand that the Lord Almighty raises against them.



PART TWO: v.17-21: Judah's Power, Egypt's weakness


v.17 (Judah, by contrast, will be strong) And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom Judah is mentioned will be terrified, because of what the Lord Almighty is planning against them.

v.18 (Hebrew language will come to Egypt) 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 the Sun.

v.19 (Worship of the Lord will come to Egypt) 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.

v.20 (The Lord will provide a saviour when they cry to Him) 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 saviour and defender, and he will rescue them.

v.21 (The Lord will establish relationship with them) 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.



PART THREE: v.22-25: Recap and outcome – the Three Peoples revealing God


v.22 (Plague, followed by healing, will come, to turn them to the Lord) 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.

v.23 (New communications will mean God is known in the region) 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.

v.24 (Three peoples will share the Lord with the world) In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth.

v.25 (For the Lord will bless the three of them) The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.'



Continue to Chapter 20