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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 19

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Isa 19:1-4

Isaiah 19:1-4


This well organized chapter naturally divides into two sections. The first (Isaiah 19:1-15) falls into three stanzas or strophes: (a) strophe 1 (Isaiah 19:1-4) prophesies the overthrow of Egypt through strife and their suffering under a cruel ruler; (b) strophe 2 (Isaiah 19:5-10) prophesies the drying up of the Nile and the total collapse of Egypt’s economy; (c) strophe 3 (Isaiah 19:11-15) foretells the incompetence of Egypt’s vaunted wise men. The total picture that emerges in these fifteen verses is that of the total ruin of Egypt. "We may see in this section of the oracle Isaiah’s determination to persuade the court of Judah not to embark on any alliance with Egypt against Assyria.”

The second division of the chapter (Isaiah 19:16-25) is Messianic and is composed of five sub-paragraphs, each of them beginning with the words "in that day." The paragraphs begin in Isaiah 19:16; Isaiah 19:18-19; Isaiah 19:23-24. Although the prophecies of this section could refer to historical events prior to Christianity, to the extent that this might be true, we believe that the great thrust of the passage is Messianic and that whatever fulfillments might have come in pre-Christian times such fulfillments were typical of the far more perfect fulfillments in Christ and the age of the Gospel. For example the return of Judah from captivity is far more adequately fulfilled in the acceptance of Christ by the "righteous remnant" of Israel and their release from the captivity of sin.

Isaiah 19:1-4

"The burden of Egypt. Behold Jehovah rideth upon a swift cloud, and cometh unto Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall tremble at his presence; and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight everyone against his brother, and everyone against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst of it; and I will destroy the counsel thereof; and they shall seek unto the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. And I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, Jehovah."

We appreciate Cheyne’s rendition of the word "idols" in Isaiah 19:1; Isaiah 19:4, as "not-gods.” Commentators find little agreement as to when the strife indicated here actually took place. Payne identified it with "disorders preceding the accession of Piankhi in 715 B.C." Newton placed it "in the times of Nebuchadnezzar.” The general opinion seems to link it with the period immediately prior to 714 B. C.

There is the same uncertainty about the identity of the "cruel lord" who will rule over Egypt. Hailey cited a number of such rulers who dominated Egypt: "Ashurbanipal (663 B.C.), Nebuchadnezzar, Cambyses (525 B.C.), and Xerxes I.” Hailey also noted that the Lord here might not have been speaking of an individual. Lowth pointed out that the word in the Hebrew for "lord" is actually plural; and he rendered the place "cruel lords," referring to a succession of them. Peak also accepted this and added the name of "Artaxerxes Ochus” as another one of the "cruel lords."

Various dates within Isaiah’s lifetime are suggested for this chapter, Rawlinson suggesting 735 B.C. and 690 B.C. as possible dates, depending upon the certain identity of the time of the "civil strife" and of the "cruel lords." We consider the questions regarding all of these things as academic. It really makes no difference at all. God’s "burden" against Egypt was fulfilled many times in many centuries by many developments down to the present day; and there were repeated fulfillments in the pre-Christian centuries.

Isaiah 19:1-4 CIVIL DISORDER: Egypt was a constant and powerful enemy of the Hebrew people. In Isaiah’s day, however, there were Jews advising the kings of Israel to form political alliances with Egypt and thus gain protection against Israel’s enemies on the other side of her in Mesopotamia (Assyria, Babylon, etc.). So, whether the threat of Egypt toward Israel be invasion or alliance, Isaiah was warning his people that they should trust God. God is going to execute His justice and judgment upon an idolatrous nation. God’s first step in judgment will be civil strife within Egypt herself. Governments founded on falsehood in any form, have the seeds of instability and self-destruction sown within them. Where there is falsehood there will be injustice. Where there is injustice there will be civil strife. These are divine moral laws which govern in the affairs of men. Only when a nation is governed by the principles of truth, honesty, justice and human dignity can there be national unity. This prophecy was fulfilled many times over in Egypt. Herodotus states that there were civil wars in the days of Psammetichus (cir. 655 B.C.). Daniel predicts periods of civil strife, brother against brother and brother against sister, in the days of the Ptolemies (cir. 300–200 B.C.) (Cf. our comments on Daniel 11). There is still much civil strife in Egypt.

The “giving over the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king” may parallel Ezekiel 30:13 where the prediction is that there shall no longer be a prince in the land of Egypt. Ezekiel’s predictions of Egypt’s downfall are found in Ezekiel chapters 29–31. There it is said Egypt would be ruled by strangers. Since the days of Assyrian domination (722 B.C. following) Egypt has been ruled (or at least dominated) by a succession of foreign powers or persons. It has been subjugated by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks, English and Arabs. Even today the political ruler of Egypt is an Arab.

Now when a nation’s leadership is engaged in civil war and when its counselors turn to wizards and magicians for advice, that nation’s spirit is broken. False religion and false philosophy makes all standards of human conduct relative. There can be no absolutes built on a basis of falsehood. When relativism reigns, social structures disintegrate.

Verses 5-10

Isa 19:5-10

Isaiah 19:5-10

"And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and become dry. And the rivers shall become foul; and the streams of Egypt shall be diminished and dried up; the reeds and flags shall wither away. The meadows by the Nile, by the brink of the Nile, and all the sown fields of the Nile, shall become dry, and be no more. And the fishers shall lament, and all they that cast angle into the Nile shall mourn, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish. Moreover they that work in combed flax, and they that weave white cloth, shall be confounded. And the pillars of Egypt shall be broken in pieces; and they that work for hire shall be grieved in soul."

This is a prophecy of total economic disaster for Egypt, brought about by the worst of all possible disasters in that land, the failure of the Nile River, here called the "sea." Occasional severe droughts in Africa that interfered with the annual flooding of the river have occurred often enough that public records for ages have been kept detailing the exact inches of the rise and fall of the river. "The public record is kept at Cairo of the daily rise and fall of the river. When the Nile rises to a less height than 18’, a disastrous famine is the sure result, for the river will not overflow. When it rises to a greater height than 24’ a famine is almost as certain, for then the water does not drain off soon enough to allow the planting of fields.”

We do not know enough about the long history of Egypt and its Nile river to pinpoint the particular disaster Isaiah here foretold; but we may be very sure that it happened. It could have happened repeatedly. There is another consideration in the interpretation of this, that, "It may be a symbol of the wasting and decline of the nation, the death of her empire.” Thus there is no requirement to interpret this Nile disaster literally. Another possibility was mentioned by Cheyne, `What in times of disorders, great troubles were caused by the neglect of the dikes and reservoirs.” Such neglect would cause damage just like a drought or too great a flood. The canal system would be destroyed, and all methodical agriculture would fail. No matter how the economic collapse would come, God here foretold it; and no one has ever denied that it happened.

Isaiah 19:5-10 COMMERCIAL DEPRESSION: God has both spectacular and non-spectacular ways of bringing about the demise of civilizations. When He would obliterate the Edomites He simply had to re-route the great caravan route from east to west around Edom. Edom soon disappeared. God, in a non-spectacular way, gradually reduced Egypt to an insignificant and lowly people by drying up her great “sea” (the River Nile). The Arabs today still call the Nile the “sea” (probably because of the way it used to inundate so much of the valley). In the great days of Egypt’s glory (3,000–1,000 B.C.), she was the “Breadbasket of the world.” It was a highly developed civilization in the sciences of medicine, architecture, art and commerce. It was a powerful, world-controlling empire. They made linen so fine that there were 540 threads to the inch. They knew secrets of manufacturing glass still unknown today. They practiced dentistry, treatment of the eyes, brain surgery and other medical skills. Their astronomers and mathematicians were familiar with principles which would do credit to mathematicians of today. Their mechanical skills are unparalleled even today!

Once again the reader should refer to Ezekiel’s parallel passage on Egypt (Ezekiel 29-31). There it is predicted that Egypt would become desolate in the midst of desolations. The River Nile is far from being completely dried up. However, for many centuries now it has not produced the massive flooding of the Nile valley which was so necessary in ancient times to prepare the lowlands for pasture and crop. Windblown sand dunes and stony, sandy plains comprise 90% of Egypt’s land. The government fights a constant battle with the slowly creeping, encroaching Sahara desert. Tiny plots of vegetation are worked today with tools differing little from those of Pharaoh’s time. Today the foliage of reeds and rushes have, compared with ancient time, almost disappeared. This was one of Egypt’s largest industries in ancient times. Another of the chief industries of Egypt was its fisheries. Down to the time of the Roman invasion they had lost none of their productiveness. Today the fisheries have ceased to be important, and the fish in the river are few. Before the Russians supplied Egypt with some weapons of war, they were so powerless that a small, Israeli army could defeat them totally in a six-day-war!

The irrigation system, in spite of all the modern attempts to restore it to its former glory and efficiency, carries water to only a small fraction of the former territory served by the ancient canals. Many of those canals of ancient Egypt are today only soggy, foul-smelling bogs, unusable. Egyptians today attempt to irrigate using hand-made, wooden, water-screws—a method out of the ancient past. Over-population and superstition and absence of mechanization intensifies and increases Egypt’s desperation generation after generation. The “pillars” of Egypt, the men of influence and wealth, as well as the common wage earner, will grieve in their soul over Egypt’s humiliation to a lowly, groveling, emaciated people from such a powerful and glorious past.

But God said it—and it is so!

Verses 11-15

Isa 19:11-15

Isaiah 19:11-15

"The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish; the counsel of the wisest counselors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? Where then are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now; and let them know what Jehovah of hosts hath purposed concerning Egypt. The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Memphis are deceived; they have caused Egypt to go astray, that are the corner-stone of her tribes. Jehovah hath mingled a spirit of perverseness in the midst of her; and they have caused Egypt to go astray in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. Neither shall there be for Egypt any work, which head or tail, palm branch or rush, may do."

These three paragraphs give a terrible picture indeed of the disasters prophesied for the land of Egypt. It is the intelligence and competence of the central government itself that are mentioned here, designating it as a blundering, incompetent power led by fools and listening to the advice of fools! The proof of the foolishness of the government advisers is seen (1) in their ignorance of Jehovah and of his will, and their utter inability to see the disaster that lies at the end of their foolish plans (Isaiah 19:12), and also (2) in their blindness to the fact that their counsels have ended in disaster (Isaiah 19:13). "`Palm branch and rush’ and `head or tail’ are expressions used figuratively for `all classes of society.’”

Zoan and Memphis, mentioned here, were the northern and southern capitals of Egypt. "Zoan, or Tanis was a north-eastern capital near the border of Sinai. Memphis lay more to the south at the apex of the Delta.”

Regarding what is meant by the "pillars of Egypt" which the Lord prophesied should be broken (v. 10), Hailey noted that the pillars are, "Either (1) the working class of people, or (2) the whole economy, which is certainly a foundation of a nation’s existence.”

Isaiah 19:11-15 COUNSELING DISASTERS: Zoan was an ancient city, near the mouth of the Tanis branch of the Nile River (probably synonymous with Tanis), built seven years after Hebron (Numbers 13:22). It was the capital of the 21st and 23rd dynasties of Egyptian history. Israelites who sought alliances with Egypt would probably have entered into negotiations with these princes. But the point is they gave Pharaoh “stupid” “brutish” counsel. They were as dumb as animals. How could they be expected to know any wisdom from Jehovah? Evidently God’s divine power and deity are clearly enough seen “in the things that have been made” (Cf. Romans 1:18-23) that all men may have enough knowledge of Him to conduct the affairs of human and social relations wisely. But when men do not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, they become futile in their thinking and their senseless minds are darkened. Although they claim to be wise with human philosophies, they are fools. Their stupidity is seen in their exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Isaiah represents the stupidity of men who will take a tree and cut it in half, use half of it to build a fire and cook their meal and take the other half, carve a face on it and set it up as a god and worship it (Isaiah 44:9-20). The remaining verses of Romans 1 show what happens when they exchange the truth of God for a lie (Cf. Romans 1:24-32). The word perverseness in the English translation would better be rendered from the Hebrew as dizziness. When men deliberately and persistently believe and practice falsehood there is an inevitable stupor which settles into all human and social structures. God gives them up and they “receive in their own persons the due penalty for their error,” (Cf. Romans 1:27). Men who cannot govern their own lives cannot govern a nation. Men who do not wish to practice truth and justice for themselves cannot legislate it for others. The princes of Zoan were drunk with the wine of rebellion against truth and morals. Sooner or later, however, the wine of rebellion and falsehood is vomited up and those who have drunk it are forced to stagger in the regurgitation of the filth they have swallowed. There is nothing that either “head” or “tail” of the nation can do. Social and national structures will cease to function properly. One is reminded of the disintegration of Germany after World War II. Totally helpless to function after defeat by the allies, she was saved only by the “Marshall Plan.” God’s moral principles remain true in every age.

Verses 16-17

Isa 19:16-17

Isaiah 19:16-17

"In that day shall the Egyptians be like unto women; and they shall tremble and fear because of the shaking of the hand of Jehovah of hosts, which he shaketh over them. And the land of Judah shall become a terror unto Egypt; everyone to whom mention is made thereof shall be afraid, because of the purpose of Jehovah of hosts, which he purposeth against it."

These two verses must be classified with the last half of the chapter because of the opening phrase, "In that day"; but except for this, they seem to be more in the spirit of the first division than with the last. The expression, "`In that day’ is a pointer, here, as elsewhere, to the `Day of the Lord.’ In this section of the chapter, Isaiah forsees the conversion of the Gentiles."

Egypt, the most outstanding and oldest enemy of the Jews was cited first as an example of Gentiles who shall be converted; and the history of that conversion is here traced back to the fear and terror that the God of Israel struck into the hearts of the Egyptians during those epic visitations connected with the Exodus. This terror of the God of Israel led at last to their conversion to Christ.

Isaiah 19:16-17 PERSUADED: These verses are transitional. They form the bridge between the former predictions of Egypt’s judgment and the following predictions of Egypt’s turning to Jehovah. In other words, when the day comes that some of the Egyptians realize that Judah’s God is the only true God, as a result of “receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error,” they will begin to seek Jehovah’s purpose in their lives. The time will come, says Isaiah, when the mere mention of Judah will remind Egypt of Judah’s God and cause some of her people to remember that Judah’s God keeps His word. They will fear Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Egypt’s wisdom had evaporated. But it will come back when they fear Jehovah. At last, some Egyptians will be persuaded of the sovereignty of Judah’s God.

Verses 18-22

Isa 19:18-22

Isaiah 19:18

"In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan, and swear to Jehovah of hosts; one shall be called the city of destruction."

"Five cities ..." This verse is considered very difficult, not only as to the identity of these cities, but as to the significance of only five being mentioned, and even as to what is meant by the language of Canaan!

"The reference to the five cities is not to be taken literally"; We understand it as meaning "only a few." One plausible meaning of the verse is that it refers to the establishment, through the Jews, of a foothold in Egypt, a kind of beach-head for monotheism, which would aid the spread of the gospel in ages to come. Rawlinson pointed out that this actually occurred after the conquest by Alexander the Great, who established large numbers of Jews in Alexandria; and that this became a great stronghold of monotheism. The LXX version of the Hebrew scriptures was produced there; and the rendition of the Hebrew into the Greek might even be called a prerequisite to the gospel age. This version (LXX) proved to be a key in the evangelism of the world, God’s first signal that the Greek language would be the language of inspiration in the New Testament. Significantly, this break-through occurred in Egypt. The translation of the Hebrew scriptures into Greek, which, after Alexander the Great, became the universal language of the whole world was indeed significant. (1) It `froze’ all of the great prophecies pointing to the Messiah, so that they could never be altered; indeed the entire Old Testament was hardened into facts of history," known by the whole world and incapable of being changed. Present day critics cannot get around the witness of the Septuagint (LXX) any more than could the infidels of Jesus’ day. The Septuagint (LXX) was translated about 250 B.C.

Isaiah 19:19-22

"In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to Jehovah. And it shall be a sign for a witness unto Jehovah of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of oppressors, and he will send them a saviour and a defender, and he will deliver them. And Jehovah shall be known to Egypt and, the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day; yea, they shall worship with sacrifice and oblation, and shall vow a vow unto Jehovah, and shall perform it. And Jehovah will smite Egypt, smiting and healing; and they shall return unto Jehovah, and he will be entreated of them, and will heal them."

Archer’s understanding of this we believe to be correct. He wrote:

"There would even be an altar erected unto Jehovah (Isaiah 19:19) in Egypt. Such an altar was erected by a Jewish high priest named Onias in the reign of Ptolemy VI; and this was an earnest of the later conversion of Egyptians to Christianity. And God here promised to send them a saviour (Isaiah 19:20). Historically, this was first fulfilled when Alexander the Great freed the oppressed peoples from their yoke of Persian submission; but in the higher dimension, it stands for the coming of the divine Saviour who would free them from their sins.”

Regarding this temple (including an altar, of course) that Onias built in Alexandria, Josephus has this:

"This Onias resolved to send to king Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra, to ask leave of them that he might build a temple in Egypt like that in Jerusalem, and might order Levites and priests out of their own stock. The chief reason why he was so desirous to do this, was, that he relied upon the prophet Isaiah who lived about six hundred years earlier, and foretold that there was certainly to be a temple built to Almighty God in Egypt.”

In like manner, Isaiah 19:21-22, are doubtless references to the "Christianization" of Egypt (and the whole world) during the Messianic age. Egypt served God with sacrifice and oblation "in the same sense as the rest of the Church (Malachi 1:1).” Isaiah, writing in the eighth century B.C., would of course, describe the worship of God in the only terms that the people of that time could understand.

Isaiah 19:18-22 PENITENT: Persuaded of Jehovah’s sovereignty, many Egyptians will some day (“In that day”) repent, change their minds and actions, and worship Him. In that day can only, as we shall develop, refer to the Messianic age, the church. “Five cities” is probably a figure of speech meaning a considerable number of people. Amos uses the phrase, “For three transgressions, yea for four,” and does not intend to say Israel had committed only four transgressions. Isaiah does not mean to say only five cities. While there are five cities speaking the language of Canaan, a sixth city shall be called “destruction.” In other words, there will still be some in Egypt who will not repent just as the “rest of mankind did not repent” after the judgments portrayed in Revelation 9:20 ff. Speaking “the language of Canaan, and swearing to Jehovah of hosts” is to speak the language in which the God of the Israelites is worshiped. That, of course, does not mean the Egyptians would speak Hebrew any more than it means they would speak Greek (the language of the New Testament). It means they would speak truth as opposed to falsehood. It means they would give allegiance to Jehovah—they would come into covenant relationship with Him. They would become citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom (the church). It is doubtful that it could mean great numbers of the Egyptians would become Jewish proselytes.

We take the “altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt” to be prophetic of the worship of the one true God being established when the gospel was preached there and people became Christians in the first century A.D. The statement that sacrifices (Isaiah 19:22) will be offered does not limit the meaning of this passage to Old Testament practices for there are certain sacrifices to be offered in the New Testament church (Cf. Hebrews 13:15-16). The “pillar” is in Hebrew matztzevah which is a stone pillar resembling an obelisk. Such a “pillar” was erected by Jacob (Genesis 28:16-22) to memorialize the presence of God. The “pillar” in Egypt is figurative of saying that when one approaches the border of Egypt he comes to a land that is also the Lord’s for the presence of Jehovah is here (in the church). This is an especially vivid figure for Isaiah’s Jewish audience. It is being predicted to them that one day Palestine will not be the only land where the presence of Jehovah dwells. The universal kingdom of Jehovah (the church) will extend into Egypt as well as Palestine!

The Jews who wrote the Septuagint (cir. 300 B.C.) thought this prophecy of Isaiah (and Ezekiel and Jeremiah) against Egypt was fulfilled in the days on Onias, a Jew of great distinction and a high priest. In 160 B.C. Onias IV, was compelled to flee Palestine. He fled to Egypt and sought and received permission from the Egyptian monarch, to build a temple like that in Jerusalem and even pointed the king Ptolemy to this passage in Isaiah for authority to build it. Josephus, the Jewish historian records this for us. Titus Vespasian destroyed this temple in Egypt in 70 A.D. when he destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. We believe this passage has a much larger and grander fulfillment than that, as subsequent verses will show.

Whatever the language of Canaan, the altar, the pillar, they were to “be a sign and for a witness unto Jehovah of hosts in the land of Egypt.” These things were to signify and testify that these Egyptians were God’s people and He was their God. For now, as God’s people, they who were formerly oppressors would become the oppressed. As Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19). But now these Egyptians are in covenant relationship to Jehovah and they may “have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19 ff) and cry unto God and He will strengthen them, save them and deliver them.

Jehovah shall be known to Egypt and the Egyptians shall know Jehovah, “in that day.” Their relationship shall be experiential as well as mental. They will enter into a life-style of belief. It will be done willingly. The offering of vows is done not by way of obligation or legislation but by willingness (Numbers 30:1 ff). Furthermore, since these Egyptians are true children of God, they will be treated like His children. “Whom the Lord loves, He chastens, etc. . . .” (Hebrews 12:3-17). If God does not chasten, they are “illegitimate” children. Jehovah will smite and heal in order to turn them constantly to Him.

Verses 23-25

Isa 19:23-25

Isaiah 19:23

"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 worship with the Assyrians."

What is envisioned here is the uniting of once hostile peoples in the service of God through Jesus Christ in the age of Messiah. This vision of a highway, in Isaiah’s prophecy is a reference to "the way of truth." See also Isaiah 11:16; Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 62:10. Thus, "the highway" appears as a favorite metaphor in Isaiah; and it should also be noted that it appears repeatedly through all sections of the prophecy, witnessing for the unity and integrity of Isaiah.

Dummelow pointed out that there were many helpful and preparatory influences leading up to the gospel age, such as, "Cyrus’ proclamation recognizing Jehovah as the God of heaven.” To this may be added the establishment of Jewish synagogues all over the world, the reading of the prophets (after the Torah was forbidden to be read) and the continued reading of both after the Torah could again be read publicly, the near-universal adoption of the Greek language, the translation of the LXX, etc. etc.

Isaiah 19:24-25

"In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth; for that Jehovah of hosts hath blessed them, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance."

Isaiah 19:25 has been called, "The most universal word in the prophecy. Sublimely it is said that Egypt and Assyria will take their place alongside Israel as the peoples of God.” This passage cannot mean that Israel will be superior to Assyria and/or Egypt, nor that either of them will be superior to Israel. Here is the unity of all mankind in Christ Jesus. No one has any special entrance because of his race; and no one is denied on account of his race or former enmity against God or his people. "It only means that God’s ancient promise that in Abraham and his seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3) will now be fulfilled.”

What a glorious work God has accomplished in redeeming even his ancient enemies, bringing all men into one holy body of the redeemed. "How clearly all this was envisioned by God’s great prophet.” This marvelous conception of "breaking down the middle wall of partition," destroying the enmity between races, inviting all men to share and share alike in the gospel, the same terms of entry for everyone ever born on earth, the same holy standard of conduct for all, etc., etc. - All of these wonderful things constitute the burden of the entire New Testament. This grand new fellowship will be the New Israel of God, which is the Messianic Church. See Romans 9:24-26, and 1 Peter 2:9-10. "These final two verses look beyond all historical events known to us; above all, it is their symbolical teaching that is important.?”

Isaiah 19:23-25 PEACEFUL: NOW we have portrayed in figurative language the consequences of God’s redemptive work in Egypt. Egypt and Assyria were inveterate enemies for many centuries. But when the universal kingdom of God is established (the church) men out of every tribe and tongue will join together in peace and unified worship of Jehovah. The reference is not to any literal highway or literal Egypt and Assyria. These two nations stood at opposite poles geographically and opposed each other politically. They represent or symbolize the conversion of all the heathen and the formation of those converted into a kingdom of peace. What God will accomplish in His redemptive work, in establishing His kingdom of peace, will be a divine reversal of what occurred at Babel. At the tower of Babel the world was dispersed, and a division of mankind occurred. Languages were confused. Ideologies grew and competed and opposed one another and wars ensued. This divided mankind fought to maintain individuality and rebellion against God, each nation characterized by this in common, that it did not know nor worship Jehovah. Many nations fought one another proposing that their ideology was what would be best for the whole world and so empires rose and fell in attempting to unify the world under one human ideology. Jehovah called out a people (the Jews) and began His work of redeeming and unifying all who would in a kingdom of men once again be ruled over by God and Truth. But even this “called out people” (for the most part) rejected God’s Messiah and His Messianic kingdom. But God’s new kingdom of unity and peace was intended to be universal from the very start. And so the prophets, especially Isaiah, predicted it. We believe Ephesians 2:11-22 are the precise fulfillment of this passage as well as that of Isaiah 2:1-4 (see our comments there) and many other “universalized” passages of the O.T. Prophets.

If this be the proper application of this passage, then the “Israel” joined as a “third” party with Egypt and Assyria in Isaiah 19:24 is “the Israel of God” of Galatians 6:16 which is none other than the New Testament church. It would take a Jew who is one “inwardly” (Cf. Romans 2:28-29) to ever agree to a unity such as is described in Isaiah 19:24-25.

The ultimate fulfillment of this passage is, therefore, Messianic. It has to do with Christ and the Church. This has come to pass and they who were strangers and foreigners in Egypt and Assyria, and yes, even in Israel, will be found in that building, “fitly framed together, which groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:11-22).

It is interesting that these three areas, Egypt, Israel and Assyria are the three areas where we find some of the earliest of the missionary endeavors of the infant church. At the beginning of the 4th century (300–400 A.D.) parts of the Scriptures had been translated into more than one of the Egyptian vernaculars and the foundations had been laid of a native Egyptian church known as “Coptic.” By the end of the 5th century the Christian faith had become rooted among native Egyptian stock and in time was the dominant religion of the land. The Coptic church, numbering 22,000 members at the turn of the 20th century, still flourishes in parts of Egypt and Ethiopia.

At Dura-Europos, on the river Euphrates (where ancient Assyria was located) on the great road between Antioch and Ctesiphon, 20th century excavation has revealed a building which was used as a Christian church as far back as the year 232 A.D. There are still many Christians in Armenia (Assyria).

There were people from Egypt and parts of Libya and Mesopotamia in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:8-13) and some of them were converted. Here the seeds were sown in the hearts of men who returned to their homelands with the gospel of peace and thus the prophecy of Isaiah came to pass (see also the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:26-40).

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 19". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/isaiah-19.html.
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