Isaiah 16-19

Isaiah 16-19…Egypt

Egypt was one of Israel’s most significant enemies during the lifetime of Moses, but there are clues in the five books of Moses (Genesis–Deuteronomy) that this enemy status would not last forever. As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, God revealed to Moses that the third-generation children of the Egyptians who lived at the time of the exodus would be permitted to join the congregation of His people (Deut. 23:7–8). That generation, presumably, would be far enough removed from the hatred Egypt revealed during the exodus and willing to become servants of the true God — Yahweh, the Lord of Hosts.

Later on, during Isaiah’s lifetime, the Almighty revealed more clearly that Egypt would no longer be Israel’s enemy. Today’s passage anticipates a day when the Egyptians will join God’s people as worshipers of Yahweh, the covenant Lord of Israel. We see this taught in Isaiah 19:18, which says five cities in Egypt will speak the language of Canaan — Hebrew, the tongue of the Israelites who took possession of that land. This is a metaphor explaining how Egypt will become an ally of Israel and adopt Israel’s faith, which was rooted in the fear of the Lord.

Isaiah goes on in verses 19–22 to teach that Egypt will know God not as judge but as redeemer in the last day. Gone will be the pagan altars and false gods, for the Egyptians will be idolaters no longer. During the exodus, the Lord’s glory was manifested when he crushed the Egyptian army in the sea (Ex. 14:17–18). In the eschatological (final or last days) age, His glory will be made known through crushing the hard hearts of Egypt and replacing them with pliable hearts intent on serving Him.

Remarkably, the notoriously cruel empire of Assyria will find peace with Egypt and worship Yahweh as well in that final day (Isa. 19:23–25). Traditionally, Egypt and Assyria were mortal enemies, but the construction of a highway between the two countries signifies a day when they will be friends (v. 23), a day when communication between them will be free and unhindered. Moreover, Assyria will also join with Egypt and the Israelites as a part of the Lord’s holy people (vv. 24–25). This prophecy is being fulfilled as the gospel goes forth and a church of “neither Jew nor Greek” is built into a temple of the living God (Gal. 3:28; 1 Peter 2:4–6).

Exodus 11-13

Exodus 11-13…The death of the first-born is threatened and then brought to fruition, the passover instituted, and the Israelites flee and are rescued by God miraculously parting the Red Sea.

The death of all the first-born in Egypt had been the first threatened, but the last to be executed. See how slow God is to anger. Also, notice that this was for everyone. The prince was not too high to be reached by it, nor the slaves at the mill too low to be noticed. God does not change. He has this same patience with us. We too, are not exempt from His wrath. It doesn’t matter if we grew up in church, know all the Bible stories, and prayed the sinner’s prayer. We desperately need Jesus. The fruit that comes from submitting our lives to Him should be evident. We cannot just agree with the gospel in principle, but need to be transformed by it in our daily lives.

In Exodus 12, the passover was instituted. It was to be kept every year, both as a remembrance of Israel’s preservation and deliverance out of Egypt, and as a foreshadowing of Christ. Their safety and deliverance were not a reward of their own righteousness, but the gift of mercy. They would be constantly reminded that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood. It is that way for us with Christ. His perfect life had to be laid down for us to be made righteous. Apart from the loving sacrifice of our Savior, we are not safe, and have no hope.

There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days’ journey, and the other was much further. Through the wilderness was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea, and the Israelites were to be challenged and humbled in the wilderness. God’s way is the right way, though it can sometimes seem more burdensome and tortuous. In some of our trials, we may not ever understand God’s purposes this side of heaven. But, God’s wisdom will clearly appear when we come to our journey’s end.