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Each of the key passages in Isaiah 19.16-25 begins with the words, “on that day.” Five times in all we have this expression which refers to a day when God decisively acts on behalf of the nations.
God’s activity is an expression of his nature which is nothing less than pure love.
God’s gracious care contrasts with human effort. The nations’ reliance on alliances, fortifications, armies, wealth, human wisdom, and idols cannot ultimately bring about a good ending.
What the nations cannot do, God does.
The Blessing of Brokenness
I heard an old minister read the 23rd Psalm. When he reached the part that said, “He makes me lie down in green pastures,” he paused and said: “Sometimes, God makes us lie down. For when we lie down we have to look up.”
The first “on that day” expression pictures Egypt being made to lie down so that they will later look up.
Isaiah wrote, “On that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the Lord of hosts raises against them.
“And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the plan that the Lord of hosts is planning against them” (Isaiah 19.16-17).
In this passage, Egypt stands for every nation and person. Until we are “made to lie down,” we won’t look up.
Judgment alerts us to start looking for a way out. Only when we are crushed will we look for a Redeemer.
A Radical Transformation
Once again, Isaiah points to a day when God will bring all nations to himself.
“On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of the Sun” (Isaiah 19.18).
When people have a profound experience of God’s grace, it changes how they talk.
Jesus taught that a person’s speech is connected to the state of the heart. He said, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12.34).
The image of this event is profound. A nation that once despised the Hebrews is so transformed that they adopt their language.
It is very common for people to first reach “rock bottom” before they look up to God. When God’s grace transforms them, the complete change of their character is reflected in how they speak.
A New Object of Worship
Isaiah prophesied a time when “on that day” former enemies of God would freely worship him.
“On that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the center of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border” (Isaiah 19.19).
The way that God defeats his enemies is to conquer their hearts through love and grace.
Egypt is a symbol for the multitude of people who worship false gods and idols. They are God’s enemies, who must be overcome with love.
A very violent professional wrestler hated God and often quarreled with his Jesus-loving wife. God’s love reached him and conquered his evil heart.
This man was transformed, built an altar of love in his heart for Jesus, and faithfully served Jesus until the day he died.
God’s grace takes people at their worst, allows them to look up for his help, puts new words in their mouths, and a new love in their hearts.
The professional wrestler became a very effective preacher who helped many.
God Looks for Us
The grace of God is a striking contrast to human pride and self-sufficiency.
Even when it comes to a relationship with God, he is the One who takes the initiative. God comes looking for us before we ever seek him.
Isaiah put it this way: “The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians; and the Egyptians will know the Lord on that day, and will worship with sacrifice and burnt offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them” (Isaiah 19.21).
Every aspect of a relationship with God begins with his love and grace.
Imagine a smooth super-highway that permits travel from being distant from God to a close relationship with God. There will come a day when this is a reality for long-term enemies of both God and each other.
“On 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 worship with the Assyrians” (Isaiah 19.23).
Not only will God’s grace remove the hostility between nations and himself, but it will allow former enemies to be a blessing to others.
Isaiah spoke of a day when three hostile nations will bless the entire world.
“On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying,
“‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage'” (Isaiah 19.24-25).
On that Day
“On that day” refers to a future event when God will dramatically bring the events of this chapter to completion.
By God’s grace, we can see glimmers of this momentous event in our present day.
Isaiah’s prophecy is intended to draw people to a loving, trusting relationship with God.
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 email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.