Does Isaiah 19:2-4 describe the unrest in Egypt which led to the resignation of Hosni Mubarack as the Egyptian president, as well as events soon to come?

Email Received:

Recently, I heard someone on Christian TV say that Isaiah 19:2 describes the unrest and turmoil in Egypt that caused its president, Hosni Mubarack, to resign (in early February 2011). Then 19:3,4 are events soon to come. What do you think?

Tedís Response:

I always have found it curious how so many Bible commentators and preachers in their pulpits attempt to link verses and passages from the Bible with present-day news headlines. I like to call it "sensationalizing the Bible" because it often plays to the emotions of people who become excited that some prophecy written thousands of years ago is actually taking place before their very eyes today.

All too often, though, those who talk and write about these things do not communicate the full context of some of the verses and passages they quote to those who are listening or reading. Most people simply will accept what is told to them without taking the time to study, on their own, the entire chapter or section of the Bible in question. As such, a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of what has been written by an ancient prophet can result.

Let's look at the verses, from two Bible versions, that you have presented:

2"I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptianóbrother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. 3The 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. 4I 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. (Isaiah 19:2-4óNIV)

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. 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. 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. (Isaiah 19:2-4óKJV)
Some will claim that this passage is prophetic of what happened to Egypt in the seventh century B.C. There was an Assyrian invasion of Egypt in 671 B.C. It is debatable, though, whether the invading king of Assyria, Esarhaddon, could have been considered a cruel and fierce king. Furthermore, he died soon thereafter, in 669 B.C.

In my opinion, if there is anything in Isaiah 19 that could have taken place immediately prior to the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, it would have been 19:2. However, even that is speculative, since the overwhelming number of demonstrations and protests, in Cairo and in other Egyptian cities in early February 2011, were against Mubarak and the government rather than against other Egyptians.

I do feel that the civil unrest and instability in Egypt will lead, eventually, to the Egyptians' fighting each other (Isaiah 19:2), a consultation of idols and spirits (19:3), and the emergence of a cruel, fierce leader to rule over them (19:4). This may be when the Egyptian economy completely collapses, and utter chaos and pandemonium ensue.

The waters of the Nile river have not yet dried up (Isaiah 19:5). Perhaps the Asw‚n Dam, constructed in the 1960s, will contribute to this at some point, although it may be that the events of 19:5-10 will be due to a supernatural judgment from God. Furthermore, I do not see how anything in 19:11-15 can be pinned down to any time frame in past history.

In any case, I strongly believe that the remainder of the chapter, Isaiah 19:16-25, has yet to transpire in the future. The key phrase, in 19:16,18,19,21,23,24, is "in that day." Very consistently in the Old Testament of the Bible, the "day" of the phrase "in that day" refers to the Day of the Lord. Although many equate this period of time with the entire 70th Week (final seven years of this age, prior to the return of Jesus), I do not.

Briefly, a Hebrew day begins at sunset, in darkness, and continues through into daylight. I believe that the prophesied "Day of the Lord" will consist of the dreadful, destructive period (probably a year) known as the "day of vengeance," at the end of which Jesus will return (upon the sounding of the Seventh Trumpet). Then the wonderful, glorious Millennium will begin, during which He will rule and reign. More details about the phrase "in that day" can be found here: In the Bible, what period of time do you think the term "in that day" is referring to?

The Lord (Jesus) will return to Jerusalem, where He will reign on His throne as King over the whole earth (Jeremiah 3:17; Zechariah 14:4,9). Egypt will be stricken by the Lord, which may have been described by Zechariah here:

17If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:17,18)
Then He will make Himself known to the Egyptians, they will acknowledge Him as Lord, and He will heal them (Isaiah 19:21,22). A well-traveled highway will connect Egypt and Assyria (Syria), and all of these people will worship together (19:23). In that day, Egypt, Assyria, and Israel will be a blessing to the earth, and God will bless all of them (19:24,25), throughout the Millennium.

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