The Burden of Egypt - Part IV
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles to Isaiah, chapter 14, and keep in mind that we are in that section of the book that is known as the Book of Burdens because God has seen fit to deliver through His prophet Isaiah messages to ten different nations.

Most of the time we have looked at these nations in the reading of our Bibles and have relegated them to the past. We have said that all of the prophecies written herein were fulfilled a long time ago and they have no particular interest or attraction for us.

We suggested to you when we began to look together at the burden that was delivered against the nation or the city of Babylon, that such was not the case, for there were certain things related to that message that were not fulfilled in any of the historical incidents of the past. Therefore, the things that were not fulfilled in such incidents must yet be fulfilled.

If you are not willing to accept that interpretation of the Scripture, then it is necessary for you to do what the vast majority of biblical interpreters have done—spiritualize the passage of Scripture in question. Instead of saying it means exactly what it says, you say, “Well, Babylon doesn't stand for Babylon. Babylon stands for Rome.” Then you try to relate the passage of Scripture exclusively to the Roman Catholic church.

Or, as in the passages of Scripture which follow the one to which we refer, if you are not willing to accept the passage as a basic, literal interpretation, then you say concerning a certain nation, “Oh, it doesn't really apply to that nation; it just refers to the idea of pride and defiance against God.”

Some individuals may find a certain amount of satisfaction in such an interpretation of Scripture, but I do not. If I do not see any reason that it cannot be accepted literally, then I am going to accept it literally, even though I may not know personally everything that it means as we will see.

We are going to notice with you one or two of these messages merely in passing, not attempting to deal with them in detail. There are two reasons for that. One is that if we attempted to deal with them in detail, we would simply be reading words to you that you could read for yourself, for those words need no immediate explanation. The other reason is that some of the localities which are referred to in the passage of Scripture which is before us are impossible of identification on any modern map. It would be rather foolish for us to take time to insist that a certain place is a certain place when no one knows for sure.

That does not rule out the importance of the passage of Scripture, and it does not suggest that we should lay it aside and say it has no bearing. Rather, we should keep our minds alert as the topography of the world changes from day to day and watch for the appearance of the territory in question, because it will appear.

Isaiah's Message to Land of Palestine

Please look at Isaiah, chapter 14, and notice verse 29, for in this verse there is a message which Isaiah the prophet addressed to the land of Palestine, the land that is called Palestina in the text that is before us. Isaiah says to the land of Palestina:

Isaiah 14

29Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.
30And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant.
31Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times.
32What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it.

If we were to boil down this paragraph into a few simple statements, we would say that it is a warning from the prophet Isaiah to the whole world that the land of Palestine will never know any real peace until the Lord Jesus Christ returns and Zion, according to the last verse, has become the sanctuary of His people.

The figurative language in verse 29 concerning the serpent and the cockatrice and the flying serpent are idiomatic expressions which speak of continued warfare. Those of you who are familiar with the history of Palestine know that it has been a continuous battleground from the time Isaiah uttered these prophecies down to the present hour and it will be until the last great invasion from the north, which is described more in detail in chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel.

You may not have always recognized the warfare as being related to the land of Palestine, but think back in your memory of history to such a great period of warfare as the Crusades, where the land of Palestine was the battleground for nations that had no real control over the land, but attempted to find an interest there.

The Burden of Moab

If you glance at chapter 15 of the book of Isaiah, you will notice that it begins with the words, “The burden of Moab.” We are not going to read the chapter, but we would suggest that when you have time, read both chapters 15 and 16 because they have to do with the burden of Moab. You will find that this is a marvelously interesting poem with beautiful phraseology that declares the downfall of Moab in history past as far as we are concerned.

You will remember what Moab was. It was the land that was settled by the descendants of Lot and his daughter. It was that area just east of the Dead Sea. You will recall that Ruth, one of the ancestors of our Lord Jesus Christ, was a Moabitess, so there was continual contact between the Moabites and the Israelites all down through history. Because the Moabites spoke out against the Israelites in defiance of the Abrahamic Covenant, the judgment of God was to rest upon them.

You say, “All right. If it is fulfilled, we do not need to be particularly interested in the land of Moab any more, do we?” Well, we do, because you will discover in chapter 16 that God is not through with the land of Moab. Though the land of Moab was utterly overthrown in the past, there will arise in the territory that was once occupied by Moab a nation, perhaps under the name of Moab, though we will not be dogmatic about it, because the area that was once occupied by the Moabites is now occupied by a number of Arabic nations which have aligned themselves together with the nation of Egypt to make a definite alliance against the nation of Israel.

It would not behoove us to be dogmatic as to which one of these Arabic nations this word Moab may refer at the present moment, but this we know: God is going to raise up in the area to which we have just referred a nation which is described in the manner that is presented in verses 4 and 5 of chapter 16 of the book of Isaiah. There God said:

Isaiah 16

4Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land.

In simple language, it means that God is addressing the nation of Moab saying, “You provide a sanctuary for My people who will be driven out of their own land. Provide a sanctuary for My people who will lose their own places.”

Someone may say, “That doesn't necessarily mean that Moab will be reinstated as a nation someday. This could have occurred any time during the past.” It could have, but it didn't in the manner that is described here because of what we read in verse 5:

Isaiah 16

5And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness.

This particular verse, of course, is a very definite promise that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to sit on David's throne, and the Lord Jesus Christ is going to administer righteousness and judgment. So, the very least you can say is that when the outcast of Israel take up sanctuary in the land of Moab, it will be in that period of time which is related to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has not happened. It will happen, and if it is going to happen, it will be absolutely necessary for Moab to be reinstated again.

Please read chapter 48 of the book of Jeremiah when you have time, because this chapter is dealing with the same subject as is Isaiah, chapters 15 and 16. Jeremiah is even more bold in his declaration than is Isaiah, because Jeremiah very definitely says that Moab, which has been relegated to the limbo of forgotten things, will be brought into being once again.

The Burden of Damascus

Look at chapter 17 of the book of Isaiah, and notice the very first phrase: “The burden of Damascus.” We are not going to read this chapter, because the city of Damascus, though it is one of the oldest cities in the world, does not fit in every single detail into the prophecy that is presented here. We can only come to one conclusion: Either the city of Damascus will be changed to fit the details which are presented, or there will arise another territory with that same name.

The reason that we know it is related to the future is because of a few verses which we call to your attention again. Once more may I emphasize, do not rest simply upon these verses that I am calling to your attention, but read the entire chapter in light of the verses, because there is no point in our taking the time to do what you can do yourself. Notice chapter 17, verse 4-5:

Isaiah 17

4And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
5And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.

Notice verses 12-14:

Isaiah 17

12Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.

Here the burden of Damascus is related to a time of great persecution, according to verse 4, in relation to the nation of Israel. When the Bible speaks of such persecution in the terms that we have noticed, it is always a reference to the time of Jacob's trouble, or what is known as the Tribulation .

When the whole world is involved in this persecution as is described in verses 12 and 13, we know that it is related to the end of the age, because at no time in relation to the prophecy of the past has the whole world been involved at one time in the persecution of the nation of Israel. Examine the history of Damascus which is available to you and you will never find that the city of Damascus had anything happen to it in the manner which is described in the chapter before us. Either history has been lost, or this is prophecy which is yet to be fulfilled.

In chapter 18, we have a prophecy concerning the land of Ethiopia, and we do not read the chapter, because there is nothing particular in it that you cannot read for yourself. We give you the key verse that indicates that what is read concerning Ethiopia is related to the future and not to the past. We read in verses 3 and 4:

Isaiah 18

3All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.
4For so the LORD said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.

The time when God is going to lift up an ensign on the earth for all the nations of the world to rally to is related to, as we have already learned in chapter 11, that portion of the life of the Lord known as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ .

Introduction to the Future of Egypt

That brings us to chapter 19 of the book of Isaiah, which we are going to read, because chapter 19 is a prophecy concerning the land of Egypt, and this prophecy is so very definitely clear that we do not have to hold any remarks in reservation as we might have had in the chapters at which we have merely glanced up to this point. I am going to suggest that we read the chapter, pointing out the divisions as we go along, making the comments that we believe are needful, as we read.

Notice an introduction to the future of the land of Egypt in verse 1:

Isaiah 19

1The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

Here God says in this first verse that He is going to bring judgment upon the religion of Egypt by the phrase, “the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence,” and He is going to bring judgment upon the entire nation as is indicated by the phrase, “the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.”

You may wonder why God singles out the religion of Egypt for special attention; but if you are familiar with the history of Egypt, you will know that Egypt is one of the most religious nations of all history, having a god for nearly everything that you could think of—those gods marrying and having offspring. Egypt was very largely controlled by the priests of the various religions represented by those gods. True, the leaders of Egypt, so-called, were supposed to be those who were in chief authority, but they were subject to the will of the priests.

Notice in verses 2-4 the kind of judgment that God is going to bring upon the land of Egypt. He is going to bring a state of anarchy in relation to the government of the land, for we read in verse 2:

Isaiah 19

2And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.

These phrases, of course, indicate total civil strife in the area viewed by the prophet, which was the entire land of Egypt. Notice in verse 3:

Isaiah 19

3And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

God is going to take away all the wisdom of Egypt so that she will not know what to do in the midst of the anarchy before her, and she will consult with all the familiar spirits, wizards, etc. Verse 4:

Isaiah 19

4And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

This passage of Scripture related to anarchy in the area of government has been fulfilled time without number in the history of Egypt, so what you are reading was prophecy when Isaiah wrote it, but is history as you look at it. Not only was there one wicked and fierce king in control of the land of Egypt, there were many down through the centuries.

Economic Distress Marked By Famine and Desolation

We will read the paragraph now which begins with verse 5 and concludes with verse 10. Recognize as we read it a description of economic distress marked by famine and desolation. We read, beginning in verse 5:

Isaiah 19

5And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.

Keep in mind that Egypt is on the edge of the Sahara desert, and the Nile River with its four tributaries is the only thing that keeps Egypt from being a desert like unto the Sahara. When God visits Egypt with judgment, the rivers will be dried up at that time.

Isaiah 19

6And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.

Time without number in the history of the past has the Nile failed, has the land been overtaken with drought and the condition described in verse 7 has been a reality. We read in verse 7:

Isaiah 19

7The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.
8The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.
9Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded.
10And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish.

All of this, because the Nile was the lifeline of Egypt, emphasizes the very great economic need that has arisen time without number in the history of Egypt—so much so that babies have been sacrificed to the Nile in hopes that it might flow again and its waters make provisions for a needy people.

If you will look at the paragraph which begins with verse 11 and concludes with verse 16, you will see the last king that shall be emphasized in relation to the judgment that was emphasized in Egypt. There we will discover that it is God confusing the intellect, the brain trusts, the young minds who are able to advise the Pharaohs and leave the people without any leadership whatsoever. We read in verse 11:

Isaiah 19

11Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish [that is, they have become as dumb as an animal] : how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?
12Where are they? where are thy wise men? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon Egypt.
13The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof.
14The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.
15Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.
16In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.

The confusion described in this paragraph in relation to the land of Egypt has indeed become true, and Egypt, up until 1948, was among the tail of the nations of no real significance and of no real influence in the land.

Stage Being Set for Prophecy to Be Fulfilled

If we were to stop our reading of the chapter right there, we could say this is fulfilled prophecy. It is of interest, for whatever interest it may have, but we need not be concerned with it. However, beginning with verse 17 and going down through the end of the chapter, we have prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled. We have statements that this world has not yet seen, and we have statements that should prove to be of real interest to us in the light of the things that are occurring in the world before us.

I am going to suggest that you glance with me, to begin with, at the very end of the chapter, verse 24:

Isaiah 19

24In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:

What does that verse of Scripture say? It says that in the future—it hasn't happened yet—as far as we are concerned, there are going to be three nations which will attract the attention of the entire world. One of those nations is Egypt. She will be first. Another is Assyria. She will be second. You will recall that we learned in our last lesson that the modern name for Assyria is Iraq . The third nation will be Israel. There it is: Egypt, Iraq, and Israel. They will be attracting the attention of the world by and by. We do not need to let it come upon us as a surprise. We can recognize that God, in His Word, has already said so.

Years ago, when I was preaching this same truth, I had to say that this is what the Word of God says. That was the most that I could do, but now I can tell you that there is a nation by the name of Israel with a nation and a government and a flag in exactly the place that God said she would be.

There was a time when I could tell you where Assyria was located on the map as I did with the land of Moab a few minutes ago, but I could not give you a name that you would recognize. But I now can give you the name that you see in your newspapers every day if you read them very carefully. It is the nation of Iraq.

We are living, Beloved, in the day when prophecy is fast being fulfilled. This is not to say that the things we are going to look at have been fulfilled at the moment, but it is to say that the stage is being set. For example, if you will look at verse 17, we will read something that sounds rather strange, and yet you can see the earmarks of this prophecy on the horizon of our world. In verse 17, we read:

Isaiah 19

17And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

There is a day coming when the land of Israel will be a terror to the land of Egypt. Egypt will be afraid of what Israel is about to do. That has not been true since Israel marched out of the land of Egypt in the exodus. Is it true today? What have you been reading in your newspapers and periodicals? You see that Egypt has been asking the Arabic nations to intercede with the United Nations and ask the United Nations to forbid Israel to develop her own nuclear device because of what Israel might be able to do to the land of Egypt. Verse 18:

Isaiah 19

18In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.
19In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD.

We would not be dogmatic and insist that we know the exact meaning of these phrases, but we can suggest several things to you. This much we know. There are going to be five cities in the land of Egypt that are going to be tremendously influenced by the culture of Israel. That is indicated by the phrase that they are going to speak the language of Canaan. The language of Canaan is Hebrew.

Hebrew used to be a language that students who were interested in the Word of God wrestled with in graduate schools and theological seminaries, but it is a language today that is spoken by a nation, and representatives who traffic with that nation have to learn the language.

I have often been thrilled at some of the things that we have been able to see and hear on television in relation to the things that are happening in our world. Once in a great while I have an opportunity to listen to some of the proceedings that are going on in the United Nations. It has always been an interesting thing to me to hear one person speak and then hear the words of that person translated into numerous different languages all at one time, and you can hear it. How my heart has been thrilled to hear some of the things that are being said by some speaker before the United Nations being translated not only in German and French, etc., but in Hebrew as well. It makes me know that the time of the end is approaching for all of these things are fitting into place and our God is fulfilling His Word.

We are also told in the verse that we have just read that Christianity will someday gain a foothold in the land of Egypt, for God will be worshiped there. It has no foothold there now. The door is closed. No mission work can be done, but the day is coming when there will even be a gate at the border of the land of Egypt that will make it easy for people to go and to tell the story.

Egypt, Iraq, and Israel to Be Focal Points of the World

Look at verse 20, as we notice something else related to Israel and Egypt which certainly must be in the future, for we read:

Isaiah 19

20And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.
21And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it.
22And the LORD shall smite Egypt [and He has] : he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them.

It has always been true that if the people of any nation humble themselves before God and pray and confess their sins, God will hear their cry and heal their land. You may not think that the leader of Egypt will ever lead his people to an altar of prayer, but the Bible says that somebody will. Somebody who rules over the land of Egypt will someday call for a day of prayer, and God will hear and God will deliver and heal their land.

Look now at verse 23. Roadway , highway , super highway , expressway are household words in our vocabulary today. Years ago, all you knew about was a highway. I remember so well when I first came from Abilene to Dallas on what was the best highway Texas afforded, and I thought I would never make it. Highway, super highway, expressway construction will go on, for in verse 23 we read:

Isaiah 19

23In 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 serve with the Assyrians.

This verse of Scripture tells us that Egypt and Iraq will be allied together, that a great super highway will connect the two countries, and people will come and go back and forth across this highway as though it was one nation. Then in verses 24 and 25 we read:

Isaiah 19

24In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
25Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.

What is this saying? It is saying that someday in the future God is going to make Egypt and Iraq and Israel a blessing to the entire world. How? I don't know. I'm never troubled with the details. I settled a long time ago in my own mind that God's Word is true. When I read it, I believe it, and I leave the details to God.

What is the purpose of such a discussion as this? One purpose certainly is to alert you to where the focal point of history will soon lie, so that you won't be left waiting. You know the Devil has been using Communistic tactics before the Communists took them up. Did you know that one of the chief tactics is a diversionary tactic? They get the free world all excited about what is going on over here in a certain location. While we are getting all steamed up over here, they are pulling the props out over here. The Devil does the same thing, you see. He would like for you to think that Egypt and Assyria and Damascus and Moab are nations of the forgotten past so that you won't be too interested in them, but God wanted you to know that they are not forgotten. He wanted you to know that there is a lot going to happen yet, and He wanted you to become familiar with the areas that are to be the focal point of the world.

History has always been an intriguing subject to me, and I minored in it in relation to my degree. I often wish that I had majored in it, and I would have if I had not felt that God had called me to the ministry. I'm not too interested in the history that one time attracted the attention of most of the world. The history that I am interested in is that which is being written at the present time in the fertile sections of the world, because that is where the activity is going to be. We need to familiarize ourselves with that part of the world, so that you will know what God is talking about when He talks. The second reason for a discussion such as this is to remind you that if the little pieces of the puzzle are already falling into place, it will not be long until the puzzle itself is complete.

Conclusion

The days of grace are drawing to a close, and the night cometh when no man can work. Our hearts ought to be stirred as we realize how near the end we are.

If there is anything that we are going to do for God, we need to get it done. We don't have much more time left. If you are without the Savior, you wouldn't want to play fast and loose with the mercy of God for you may not have much more time left.


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