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In this chapter, Egypt, the original and sworn foe to Israel, comes in for her judgment. Great misery and distress are threatened to Egypt. The close of the chapter contains great mercy, which is promised to Egypt in calling the inhabitants to Christ.
Here is the same subject of national distress for the burden of Egypt, as that of Damascus or Moab, though the end differs: foreign wars, and domestic jealousies are predicted: so that every man's hand is to be against his brother. As a nation and people, Egypt is described as most calamitous. Famine, and the want of bread; and fish, which their rivers supplied in plenty, were to fail by the Lord's drying up the waters. In short, a general desolation was to take place, in the burden of Egypt. If we spiritualize the history, it may be said, and said with truth, that there is a very Egypt, and the burden of Egypt falls in upon the soul, whenever the Lord remits the out-pouring of his Holy Spirit. Reader, do you not find, in the risings of sin within, and the remains of in dwelling corruption in the soul, that, like the Egyptian darkness, even a deadness and a darkness which may be felt is induced, and a burden indeed, of an intolerable nature, comes over the mind? And in such seasons, doth not the very spirit fail, and everything seems to be, for the time, in respect of grace, lost? And how often is the poor heart tempted to cry out, My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord? Lamentations 3:18 .
In these verses the subject of lamentation is carried on, under various descriptions, and all corresponding to denote the burden of Egypt. Their senators and wise men became unable to guide the helm of public affairs. Egypt was remarkable for learning; for Moses, we are told, was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. But now the whole nation is sunk into ignorance. And the cause is from the Lord; for it is said that the Lord had mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof. And so great was the dread of the Lord and his people upon the minds of the Egyptians, that everyone that made mention only thereof became a terror to himself. Reader, improve the subject spiritually, and it will indeed be very profitable. Is not this account of Egypt similar to what the mind of man feels under the awakenings of a sense of sin, and a dread of divine wrath in consequence thereof? Are not the humblings of the mind under fear and apprehension of a judgment to come, infinitely greater than those which arise from the dread of temporal evils? And when the Lord convinceth of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, will not the soul be more convulsed, than with any other terror? John 16:8 .
I beseech the Reader to remark every word in these verses. Let him observe how the sweet promises contained in them open. In that day, namely, the gospel day; the day of Christ, which Abraham, ages back, but now so much nearer, saw afar off; rejoiced and was glad. And how blessed is the promise to Egypt in this day. Egypt, had been miserably spoken of before, but now in mercies. So is it in all the transitions from nature to grace. The language of Canaan is the language of the gospel; so that Egypt, shall partake with Israel in the mercies of redemption, and shall speak the same language. And observe, that this is to be not in one or two instances, but by towns and cities; yea, five at once, as if to intimate that day of gospel grace, when the Holy Ghost shall be poured out upon all flesh, agreeably to the promise, Joel 2:28-32 ; Acts 2:17-21 . Neither is this all: for an altar to the Lord shall be set up in Egypt. Christ is the New Testament Altar, and the Egyptians, like Israel, shall present all their offerings upon Him, and in Him, and by Him: neither doth the blessing of gospel grace stop here; for when the poor sinner, under convictions of sin, and the oppressions of the enemy, is constrained to cry out unto the Lord, the Lord will send a Saviour, and a great one, and he will deliver him from all his burden, and from all his sins. Pray, Reader, pause over this precious scripture, for it is indeed most precious; and say, to whom but to Jesus the almighty Saviour of lost sinners, can this refer? Indeed was not his name called Jesus by the angel, for this express reason, because he should save his people from their sins? Matthew 1:21 .
Pause again, Reader, over this lovely verse, for it is a continuance of the same doctrine. The blessed and auspicious effect of a Saviour, and a great one, being sent to the cry of the Egyptians, shall be followed up with another vast privilege; the Lord Jehovah shall be known to Egypt, in his covenant character and relationship, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord. A good understanding shall take place between them: and whereas, in times past, the knowledge of the Lord was only in Israel; now the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Surely there never was a more blessed gospel, nor a more blessed promise! And when fulfilled, in bringing sinners from afar, to the knowledge and love of God in Christ; what a blessed accomplishment is there of these scripture prophecies! Isaiah 54:13 .
Still prosecuting the same blessed theme, here is another gospel mercy. The Lord will convince, and convert; the Lord will wound, and heal. The Holy Ghost will make his word as a fire and as a hammer, to melt and break the stout heart of the sinner, by the Spirit of judgment, and the Spirit of burning! And he that brings under the rod, will bring into the covenant, and show himself to be both the Spirit of truth, and the Holy Ghost the comforter! Jeremiah 23:29 ; Isaiah 4:4 ; Ezekiel 20:37 ; John 14:16-17 .
What a blessed close doth the prophet make of this sweet sermon of prophecy, in the end of the chapter! The gospel church is said to be an highway for the people; and so it is, when the Lord lifts up his standard through the earth. The enclosure of Israel, that had been kept for ages, is then thrown down; and both Jew and Gentile are brought into one fold, under one Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the righteous. Oh! the felicity, when Christ shall be universally acknowledged, as the Lord Jehovah's Christ; the one, the only ordinance of heaven for salvation to all the earth! Lord, I would say (and the Reader will surely join my soul in the prayer of faith), hasten thy blessed purposes, and let that sweet promise to our Shiloh be accomplished, when he shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; when men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed. Amen.
PAUSE, my soul, over this Chapter, and, gather up the several interesting contents of it into one view: pray over it, and beg of God the Holy Ghost to make it truly blessed to thy meditation.
In the afflictions or Egypt, behold the sure afflictions which arise out of a fallen sinful state. Burdens, like those the Egyptians felt and groaned under, must and will make every sinner groan, when once the heart is broken for sin, and truly brought acquainted with the miseries of it. But when, from under the galling load of a guilty conscience, the poor sinner cries unto the Lord, because of the oppressors; then the Lord sends them a Saviour, and a great one, and he delivers them. Yea, before they called, before they felt their misery, before the evil of sin was known in the earth, God the Father hath sent Jesus his dear and ever blessed Son; a Saviour, indeed, and a great One, mighty to save, to save his people from their sins.
Reader! what saith your experience to these things? The day is come; the highway is cast up; the gospel door is open, when Egypt and the multitude of the isles are called to join the true Israel of God, in the salvation of the Lord Jesus. Oh! for that rich blessing of God in Christ here recorded, to be every day fulfilled, that Jehovah the Lord of Hosts may bless with all spiritual blessings in Christ, Egypt, his people, and Assyria the work of his hands, and Israel his inheritance. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Isaiah 19". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29