Reading Time: 7 Minutes
Twenty-five or more years ago, I started using the Bible as the most important tool in my conversations with God. The Prophets, especially Isaiah, and the Gospels have been a daily part of my prayer life during this time.
When I read sections of the Bible, like the one in today’s article, I use the text to think about my own life, the city where we live, and our nation.
Today’s text, Isaiah 19.1-15, concerns Egypt and the trust that smaller nations placed in that country.
As we ask what countries smaller nations rely upon today, the answer is most likely the United States, China, and Russia.
Egypt and the United States
The Egypt of Isaiah’s day and the United States resemble each other in several ways.
— Religion – It was believed that Egypt’s gods were strong and gave the nation victory over their enemies.
A form of Christianity, Christian nationalism, believes that God blesses America because of our devotion to Jesus Christ.
— Natural Resources – The Nile River provided water for agriculture and transportation. In ancient times, Egypt was valued for the production of grain similar to that of the Middle East for oil.
The United States has abundant natural resources. A fact that may startle you is that the economy of Texas is nearly $400 billion larger than the entire gross domestic product of Russia.
— Wisdom – Egypt was revered for the wisdom of its sages.
Even though China is making advances, United States continues to be recognized as the leader in every aspect of educational achievement.
A Serious Warning
Isaiah wrote chapters 13-23 with one message in mind: don’t trust the nations. He listed nations from east to the west and warned God’s people away from the folly of relying on them.
As I use the Bible as a “tool” in prayer, I substitute the United States for Egypt in these verses. As I do, I ask God for the grace that will allow our nation to repent and realign our lives with his will.
We can ask God for the following:
— Turn us away from idols to the One True God.
An oracle concerning Egypt.
See, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. (Isaiah 19.1)
Whatever we have elevated as a substitute for God is an idol. In the presence of God, these substitutes will not stand.
— May God help us to love one another, rather than fight each other.
I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,
and they will fight, one against the other,
neighbor against neighbor,
city against city, kingdom against kingdom. (Isaiah 19.2)
The lack of peace is an outgrowth of idolatry. We become like what we worship.
If we worship personal privilege, our “own” rights, money, and power, the conflict will be the natural outcome.
The solution to this issue is for people to turn to God and his principles. Let’s pray for that to take place.
— Ask God for his mercy concerning climate change.
The waters of the Nile will be dried up,
and the river will be parched and dry;
its canals will become foul. (Isaiah 19.5)
Verses 5-10 highlight issues with the Nile River. If the Nile dries up, Egypt is nothing more than a very large sandbox.
I don’t believe that the climate debate has to be an either/or concern. It doesn’t have to be trust in God or trust in scientific information. We can learn from science and trust God at the same time.
Isaiah’s prophecy has to do with how God uses climate changes to draw people back to him. Concerning the climate issue, we can and should pray for God to use climate to draw people back to faithfulness with him.
— Ask God for “smart” people to act with wisdom.
The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish;
the wise counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
“I am one of the sages,
a descendant of ancient kings”?
The princes of Zoan have become fools,
and the princes of Memphis are deluded;
those who are the cornerstones of its tribes
have led Egypt astray. (Isaiah 19.11, 13)
The ones who should have led Egypt correctly led the nation astray.
The wisdom which is limited to this world is as short-sighted and confused as a person lost in a dense forest.
Let’s use Proverbs 1.7 and pray for the leaders of churches, business, education, the arts, and government.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1.7)
Let’s Be Clear
I wouldn’t do justice to the text if I didn’t make two points clear.
(1) Over and over again, God tells us that if we are trusting anything other than him we are trusting the wrong thing.
Isaiah devoted ten chapters to make this one point.
(2) What happened in Egypt and the nations that surrounded Jerusalem was an act of God’s judgment.
I agree with Rudy Ross that this judgment acted like guardrails to keep the nations from imploding upon themselves.
(3) The last verses of Isaiah 19 describe God’s mercy and salvation for nations like Egypt, Assyria, and Israel.
God’s last word is not judgment, but salvation.
The role praying people play is to pray for God to draw humanity to a place of salvation.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.