Isaiah 17 and 19

Isaiah 17

Some time ago, a friend of mine called me up from the Netherlands. We talked about what we were up to and mutual friends that were still in Israel. Then we stumbled onto the subject of eschatology, and I said that the next big thing that’s going to happen is Gog and Magog and the salvation of Israel.

“No it’s not,” he responded.

I was taken aback. Here I was, and expert… and E-X-P-E-R-T …about Israel and the Bible and eschatology, and this… this …DUTCH person dares to disagree?

“Why?” I growled.

“Damascus hasn’t been destroyed yet,” he replied – blissfully ignorant of how close he was to being rhetorically torn limb from limb.

I sat and blinked for a moment. I remembered reading something in the bible about Damascus being destroyed, but I thought that it had already happened – and that the prophecy didn’t apply to the future.

I sputtered a bit in deflated indignation before flipping through the scriptures that referred to Damascus. Sure enough, it needed to be destroyed.

(OOPS! Maybe I wasn’t quite the expert that I thought that I was.)

Once THAT was clear, I did a quick search of the history of Damascus and found that it had NEVER been destroyed – at least as far as we could tell.

That is an incredibly serious problem.

Why?

Well, if Damascus has never been completely destroyed, then it is going to be completely destroyed in the future. (There’s not a whole lot of future left in our ‘future’ – if you know what I mean.)

But, there’s worse.

It appears that a lot of Israelis are killed also. A LOT of Israelis. In fact, I can see how this fits with Zechariah 13 when it speaks about the same time frame:

And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:

Zechariah 13:8

If there is anyone out there that can prove that all of this has already happened, and that there is going to be no massacre of Israelis in the future…

Well, my joy would be boundless.

However, until someone can prove that Isaiah 17 and Zechariah 13:8 have ALREADY been fulfilled, I live in dread of the future. But, let’s start working through the terrible predictions of Isaiah 17.

1 The burden against Damascus.

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap.
2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken;
They will be for flocks
Which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
3 The fortress also will cease from Ephraim,
The kingdom from Damascus,
And the remnant of Syria;
They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
4 “In that day it shall come to pass
That the glory of Jacob will wane,
And the fatness of his flesh grow lean.
5 It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain,
And reaps the heads with his arm;
It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain
In the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it,
Like the shaking of an olive tree,
Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough,
Four or five in its most fruitful branches,”
Says the Lord God of Israel.

 – Isaiah 17:1-6

THIS is utter destruction, an utter destruction that has never happened, except POSSIBLY during the Assyrian conquest. However, it is my understanding that Damascus was not made a ruinous heap by the Assyrians, and that they left much of it intact as a city. It was certainly still a city when Alexander the Great was rampaging through the Middle East. So, as I said before, it doesn’t appear that Damascus has ever been utterly destroyed.

But, if the Damascus is to be utterly destroyed, who destroys it? Who destroys Damascus?

Israel?

Does the Assad regime use chemical weapons against Damascus?

Does Gog and Magog do this?

What does it mean when verse 4 says, “the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean”?

This sounds like Israelis being killed – lots and lots of Israelis being killed. And that is beyond disturbing. It’s horrifying.

Unless someone can prove to me, beyond the shadow of doubt, that all of this has happened already and that there is no possibility that this will happen in the future – I will live in dread of the near future.

And, when talk of war in the Middle East occurs, I often think of these passages. But, moving on…

7 In that day a man will look to his Maker,
And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.
8 He will not look to the altars,
The work of his hands;
He will not respect what his fingers have made,
Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.
9 In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough
And an uppermost branch,
Which they left because of the children of Israel;
And there will be desolation.

 – Isaiah 17:7-9

To me, this confirms my understanding that this is in our future, because the Assyrian captivity did not result in Israel looking to God.

And again, we see horrifying casualties in verse nine. The kind of thing that we would expect when two thirds of the people in the Land of Israel are killed. But, we should not focus just on the horror.

There is a very, very important and positive development in verse 7:

7 In that day a man will look to his Maker,
And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.

 – Isaiah 17:7

Almost any amount of horror is worthwhile if it ends in redemption, but you will forgive me if I do not look forward to seeing people that I care deeply about suffering and dying. This will be really bad.

Unfortunately, God has good reasons for allowing this to happen:

10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation,
And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold,
Therefore you will plant pleasant plants
And set out foreign seedlings;
11 In the day you will make your plant to grow,
And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish;
But the harvest will be a heap of ruins
In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.

 – Isaiah 17:10-11

Israel has forgotten God. The Jews have forgotten God. Instead of embracing the One who came, they spent two thousand years rejecting Him. And, there is no tragedy greater than THAT.

Then, as we complete this chapter…

12 Woe to the multitude of many people
Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,
And to the rushing of nations
That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
And before the morning, he is no more.
This is the portion of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who rob us.

 – Isaiah 17:12-14

…I am reminded of what happens at the time of the coming of Gog and Magog.

If you haven’t read my book, Ezekiel’s Fire, I highly recommend that you do so. It’s about this verse:

And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.

Ezekiel 39:6 American Standard Version (ASV)

I’m afraid that the ASV is more correct than most of the other translations, since they translate ISLANDS (איים) as COASTLANDS (אדמות החוף). Sorry… but, ISLANDS ARE NOT COASTLANDS!!!

The point is that a fire will descend upon the Earth. And, when you look closely at the other passages that refer to this, it’s pretty clear that this will be the biggest solar flare in the history of the world. And, we’ve seen other stars like our own, shoot out superflares like this. So, read Ezekiel’s Fire.

It might just save your life.

And, since I find myself talking about Ezekiel’s Fire, it should be clear that I believe that Isaiah 17 is talking about the coming of Gog and Magog. It fits far too well with Ezekiel 38 and 39, and the catastrophe that this implies is something that I don’t like to think about.

Please, please be ready for the worst moment in human history. Billions will die, and I don’t want you to be one of them.

Isaiah 19

This chapter has never ceased to amaze me. This chapter foretells of the Nile drying up, Egypt becoming Christian and uniting in a confederation with Israel and Syria.

Astounding.

No, it’s more than that.

It’s positively mind blowing.

Actually, there really are no words to adequately describe how incredible all that is, from the viewpoint that we have today. Furthermore, since this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, we must assume that it is in our future. AND, since we are in the last days, there isn’t much future left for us to see all this happen. So, Isaiah 19 MUST play a part somehow in the Ezekiel Tetrad.

(Unless someone can prove to me that it has already happened?)

It’s just so hard to imagine how all this will come about. But, our failure in imagination is no barrier to God’s will. God said that He would do this, so it will be done.

Let’s get into the chapter, and the first verse is this one:

1 The burden against Egypt.

Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud,
And will come into Egypt;
The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence,
And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst.

 – Isaiah 19:1

This immediately raises a question:

Is Yehovah really riding into Egypt on a cloud?

Is this allegory?

I try very hard to take the Bible as literally as possible, but it’s hard to do that here. And no, this doesn’t fit with the picture of the the Lord returning with His angels at the end of the Great Tribulation. And, I can say that because of the verses that follow.

During the Millennium, the countries at the headwaters of the Nile will not be allowed to divert the waters of the Nile and cause so much torment and upheaval in Egypt. So, this does not fit with the events of the Millennium. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Moving on…

2 “I will set Egyptians against Egyptians;
Everyone will fight against his brother,
And everyone against his neighbor,
City against city, kingdom against kingdom.
3 The spirit of Egypt will fail in its midst;
I will destroy their counsel,
And they will consult the idols and the charmers,
The mediums and the sorcerers.
4 And the Egyptians I will give
Into the hand of a cruel master,
And a fierce king will rule over them,”
Says the Lord, the Lord of hosts.

 – Isaiah 19:2-4

We’re talking about civil war here. Egypt will descend into complete chaos, and they will be ruled by a cruel leader.

In one sense, the fire of this civil war was ignited in January, 2011 in response to the brutal murder of Khaled Said by Egyptian police in June 2010. Egyptians were angry at this horrific killing by the police, and when National Police Day arrived on January 25, it was just too much for the average person. They were angry and took to the streets.

The result was the fall of Hosni Mubarak and political chaos.

Finally, when the dust settled in 2014, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was President of Egypt. And, you can bet that he will remain as president of Egypt until he dies. It’s how they do such things in Egypt.

Is al-Sisi the ‘cruel master’ and ‘fierce king’ of Isaiah 19?

Well, I maintain that the civil war in Egypt isn’t over. The death of Khaled Said and the Arab Spring that swept North Africa were merely the sparks that touched off the conflagration. If the Egyptians were getting enough food to eat, the Egyptians wouldn’t have rioted in the streets and Mubarak would not have fallen.

That’s right. The undercurrent of this uprising was food. The average Egyptian wasn’t getting enough because of rising prices for cooking gas and bread. So, when Khaled Said was murdered by Egyptian police, the outpouring of anger ran hot.

The problem is that malnutrition has only gotten worse as the Egyptian government continues to eliminate subsidies for fuel, food and drinking water. And, water is becoming and ever more serious problem in Egypt.

As it stands right now, only a small part of the Nile actually reaches the Mediterranean Sea, and less and less of it reaches the sea, every year. It is only a matter of time before none of the Nile reaches the Mediterranean. This means that we are already well on our way to the next part of Isaiah 19 occurring:

5 The waters will fail from the sea,
And the river will be wasted and dried up.
6 The rivers will turn foul;
The brooks of defense will be emptied and dried up;
The reeds and rushes will wither.
7 The papyrus reeds by the River, by the mouth of the River,
And everything sown by the River,
Will wither, be driven away, and be no more.

 – Isaiah 19:5-7

This has never happened. Ever. Yes, there have been times where there was a reduction in the amount of water flowing in the Nile. But, it has never ever dried up like this. And, here’s where I get to point out that the New King James Version makes a mistake.

The NKJV claims that this word, וְהֶאֶזְנִ֣יחוּ, means ‘will turn foul’. That is incorrect. The root of that word is זנח, pronounced zanach (ch as in Bach). Zanach means abandon or reject. So, I believe that the King James Version has the more correct translation of verse six:

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

 – Isaiah 19:6

Having said that, the KJV makes its own translation error. The word דָּלֲל֥וּ, does not mean ‘far away’. It means ‘made thin’ or ‘rarified’, and חָרְב֖וּ means ‘made dry’. How the translators made these mistakes is mystifying. (And, annoying.)

I make this point for two reasons:

  • You need to understand that EVERY translation has errors. Every. Single. One. The only true Bible is the original text.
  • The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

For the first time in history, the Ethiopians are damming up the Blue Nile, which provides the vast majority of the Nile’s water. If you dam up the Blue Nile, the Nile will run dry. And, that is what is going to happen, when the GERD is finished. And, the current delays in construction of that dam is only going to make the situation worse – and fulfill prophecy.

The next few verses speak of Egypt in serious trouble and simply falling apart (Isaiah 19:8-15). And then, there are these two verses:

16 In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, which He waves over it. 17 And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the Lord of hosts which He has determined against it.

 – Isaiah 19:16-17

THAT is a PUZZLE!

Egypt will become afraid because God waves His hand over them, and they will become terrified of Israel. And, that last bit is the most perplexing.

Why would they be terrified by the Land of Judah?

Of Israel?

To a certain degree, Egypt already IS afraid of Israel. But, I’m not sure that ‘terror’ would be an accurate description of what she feels now. Something changes… or happens, to make Egypt afraid of Israel.

Could it be that Israel really does have nuclear weapons?

And, could it be that Israel is forced to demonstrate their willingness to use them?

That would make ANYONE afraid.

As of this writing, it is possible that Israel may feel forced to use ground-penetrating nuclear warheads against Iran’s own underground nuclear weapons development program. The Iranians have already begun weapons development in the Fordo bunkers, south of Tehran. Currently, these bunkers are more than 200 meters under ground, and able to withstand almost any conventional attack.

Will Israel use a nuclear weapon against Iran?

Only time will tell.

But, as we continue into the heart of the prophecy about Egypt – and Israel – we see something profoundly positive:

18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the Lord of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.

 – Isaiah 19:18

Five cities will speak a different language than is commonly spoken now. They speak Arabic in Egypt, but five cities will switch to a different Semitic language. They will also swear by – or, give allegiance to – the Lord of Hosts (Yehovah Tsevaot – Yehovah of Armies).

It sounds to me that these five cities will emerge victorious in the civil war that happens in Egypt, and they will speak a Semitic language that is closer to Hebrew than Arabic is right now.

Then, Isaiah goes on to speak of Egypt’s salvation:

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. 21 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.

 – Isaiah 19:19-22

Egypt will turn to God, and there’s only one way to do that – through Jesus Christ. So, Egypt will become a Christian nation. And, it will go on to unite in some way, with Israel.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.

24 In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

 – Isaiah 19:23-25

That last bit is why this discussion is here. ‘Israel My inheritance’ means salvation. There is no other way to look at this. So, as we see the Nile beginning to dry up, we will also need to be considering what will be happening in Israel.

And no, this cannot be in the Millennium. During the Millennium, God will already be ruling the world. Any discussion of ‘civil war’ would be completely irrelevant. Likewise the ‘turning away’ of the Nile.

The coming Millennial government set up by God would never allow Ethiopia or Sudan to dam up the Nile and allow it to run dry. It just doesn’t fit with a Godly and just government that will rule after the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

However, it also means that strange and wonderful events lie dead ahead.

 

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