Where 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. — Isaiah 19:12
Have you ever found yourself wishing you had taken the advice of someone and applied it in a particular circumstance? My mother was famous for telling me to learn from other people’s mistakes rather than my own. To her that meant, “listen and learn.” She didn’t want me to suffer the consequences of my occasional poor decisions, so she offered me her advice. Unfortunately, I didn’t always take her words to heart. Sometimes I tried things on my own, only to find out that if I had heeded her counsel, I would have saved myself some regrets.
It’s funny how much wiser my mother seemed as I grew older! Now, as a mother myself, I find that I often tap into her wisdom and experience when I have to deal with things that come my way in life and into my children’s lives. I, too, try to give advice to my children in hopes that they will avoid some of the same pitfalls that I encountered.
In this chapter, Isaiah was prophesying against Egypt. Despite all of this country’s experiences with the God of Israel and His admonitions to repent, the people of Egypt continued to be hostile toward God’s people, and went on serving their idols and not God. Through His prophets, God warned them many times of His sure judgment and yet they repeatedly rejected His warnings. They did not apply God’s message to the way they lived, so Isaiah prophesied that sound counsel would be taken from their midst. Egypt’s reputation as a superior country due to their intellect would become worthless because they lacked the wisdom to apply it.
True wisdom is more than head knowledge. In this technologically advanced age where mega-information is at our fingertips, we need to know that spiritual wisdom is being able to properly apply God’s principles to our lives. We don’t want to make Egypt’s mistakes and not take God’s advice that He has revealed to us in His Word. We should pray daily that God would open our hearts to the wise counsel of His Word and help us to prayerfully apply it.
The chapter begins with the statement, “The burden of Egypt.” The word burden is derived from the Hebrew word massaw, which refers to an utterance of doom, a prophecy of calamitous or disastrous nature, which one dwells on. It is something that is borne with labor and difficulty, which is grievous, wearisome and oppressive.
Isaiah prophesied that God would come on a “swift cloud” to pronounce grievous judgment against Egypt. The people would melt with fear at His presence and their idols would be unable to save them from His anger. God delineated Egypt’s coming downfall by indicating that the people would self-destruct as they began fighting one against another. Good judgment would be removed from their midst and they would end up seeking counsel from charmers and wizards. He would also send a cruel lord and king to rule over them.
Egypt depended upon the Nile overflowing its banks each year. But God would no longer allow that to happen and their land would become dry and desolate. Their rivers would be polluted and their grass, corn, and trees dried up. They would be defenseless and vulnerable to their enemies. Because of the drought, their fishermen would not be able to maintain an existence, as they would have no fish for food or trading. There would be no flax for linen cloths, which they wore and sold to other nations. Their people would be downcast, their spirits terrorized by fear of their enemies.
But God in His mercy would not leave the nation of Egypt there. Through Isaiah, He promised them a time when things would be different, when they would know Him personally and become an “inheritance” to Him and a nation that would vow a vow and then perform it.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The message of condemnation: the Holy One of Israel provoked, rebuking and judging
C. Prophecies related to the foreign nations
7. The judgment upon Egypt (19:1 — 20:6)
a. The prediction of civil war (19:1-10)
(1) The war (19:1-4)
(2) The destruction (19:5-10)
b. The confusion of Egypt’s leaders (19:11-15)
c. The fearfulness of Egypt (19:16-18)
d. The restoration of Egypt (19:19-25)
e. The captivity of Egypt (20:1-6)
(1) The sign (20:1-2)
(2) The significance (20:3-6)
We have a wonderful God. Like a loving father, He will correct us when we need it, but He doesn’t leave us there. He is quick to make promises of restoration and bring us unto Himself. We should rejoice in His infinite wisdom each day.