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Verse Isaiah 19:19. An altar to the Lord — צבאות tsebaoth, "of hosts," or Yehovah tsebaoth, is added by eight MSS. of good repute, and the Syriac Version.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/isaiah-19.html. 1832.
Egypt’s punishment and conversion (19:1-25)
At various times Judah was tempted to rely on Egypt for help against aggressors. Isaiah shows in this message how useless such reliance is. He pictures the day when God acts against Egypt, and sees that all Egypt’s magic and all her gods cannot save her. Civil war breaks out, followed by the harsh rule of a dictator (19:1-4).
Drought causes the Nile, Egypt’s only water supply, to dry up. This ruins the nation’s farming, fishing and cotton industries, and creates nationwide unemployment (5-10). Try as they may, the nation’s rulers and advisers cannot solve its problems, for those problems have been sent upon them by God (11-13). As a result the nation is reduced to helplessness. No one knows what to do (14-15).
Having been humbled, Egypt fears Judah. It also fears Judah’s almighty God, Yahweh (16-17). Judeans then migrate to Egypt and establish the worship of Yahweh in places where people had once worshipped heathen gods. God now treats the people of Egypt as previously he treated those of Israel and Judah. He delivers them from their oppressors, punishes them for their sins, and forgives them when they repent (18-22). People from Egypt, along with people from other former enemies of Israel-Judah, will have an equal part with the people of Israel-Judah in God’s universal kingdom (23-25).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/isaiah-19.html. 2005.
"In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to Jehovah. And it shall be a sign for a witness unto Jehovah of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of oppressors, and he will send them a saviour and a defender, and he will deliver them. And Jehovah shall be known to Egypt and, the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day; yea, they shall worship with sacrifice and oblation, and shall vow a vow unto Jehovah, and shall perform it. And Jehovah will smite Egypt, smiting and healing; and they shall return unto Jehovah, and he will be entreated of them, and will heal them."
Archer's understanding of this we believe to be correct. He wrote:
"There would even be an altar erected unto Jehovah (Isaiah 19:19) in Egypt. Such an altar was erected by a Jewish high priest named Onias in the reign of Ptolemy VI; and this was an earnest of the later conversion of Egyptians to Christianity. And God here promised to send them a saviour (Isaiah 19:20). Historically, this was first fulfilled when Alexander the Great freed the oppressed peoples from their yoke of Persian submission; but in the higher dimension, it stands for the coming of the divine Saviour who would free them from their sins."
Regarding this temple (including an altar, of course) that Onias built in Alexandria, Josephus has this:
"This Onias resolved to send to king Ptolemy and queen Cleopatra, to ask leave of them that he might build a temple in Egypt like that in Jerusalem, and might order Levites and priests out of their own stock. The chief reason why he was so desirous to do this, was, that he relied upon the prophet Isaiah who lived about six hundred years earlier, and foretold that there was certainly to be a temple built to Almighty God in Egypt."
In like manner, Isaiah 19:21,22, are doubtless references to the "Christianization" of Egypt (and the whole world) during the Messianic age. Egypt served God with sacrifice and oblation "in the same sense as the rest of the Church (Malachi 1:1)." Isaiah, writing in the eighth century B.C., would of course, describe the worship of God in the only terms that the people of that time could understand.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/isaiah-19.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
In that day shall there be an altar - An “altar” is properly a place on which sacrifices are offered. According to the Mosaic law, but one great altar was to be erected for sacrifices. But the word ‘altar’ is often used in another sense to denote a place of “memorial;” or a place of worship in general (Joshua 22:22-26. It is clear that Isaiah did not intend that this should be taken “literally,” or that there should be a rival temple and altar erected in Egypt, but his description is evidently taken in part from the account of the religion of the patriarchs who erected altars and pillars and monuments to mark the places of the worship of the true God. The parallelism here, where ‘pillars’ are mentioned, shows in what sense the word ‘altar’ is used. It means that the worship of the true God would be established in Egypt, and that certain “places” should be set apart to his service. “altars” were among the first places reared as connected with the worship of God (see Genesis 8:20; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 35:1; Exodus 17:15).
To the Lord - To Yahweh - the true God.
And a pillar - That is, a memorial to God. Thus Jacob set up the stone on which he had lain ‘for a pillar,’ and poured oil on it Genesis 28:18. Again Genesis 35:14, he set up a pillar to mark the place where God met him and talked with him (compare Genesis 31:13; Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 16:22). The word ‘pillar,’ when thus used, denotes a stone, or column of wood, erected as a monument or memorial; and especially a memorial of some manifestation of God or of his favor. Before temples were known, such pillars would naturally be erected; and the description here means simply that Yahweh would be worshipped in Egypt.
At the border thereof - Not in one place merely, but in all parts of Egypt. It is not improbable that the “name” of Yahweh, or some rude designation of the nature of his worship, would be inscribed on such pillars. It is known that the Egyptians were accustomed to rear pillars, monuments, obelisks, etc., to commemorate great events, and that the names and deeds of illustrious persons were engraven on them; and the prophet here says, that such monuments should be reared to Yahweh. In regard to the fulfillment of this prophecy, there can be no question. After the time of Alexander the Great, large numbers of Jews were settled in Egypt. They were favored by the Ptolemies, and they became so numerous that it was deemed necessary that their Scriptures should be translated into Greek for their use, and accordingly the translation called the Septuagint was made. See Introduction, Section 8, 1, (1).
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/isaiah-19.html. 1870.
19.In that day shall there be an altar in the midst of the land of Egypt. He continues what he had said in the former verse, and states more clearly that the aspect of Egypt will be renewed, because there true religion will flourish, the pure worship of God will be set up, and all superstitions will fall to the ground. He employs the word altar to denote, as by a sign, the worship of God; for sacrifices and oblations were the outward acts of piety. By the midst of Egypt he means the chief part of the whole kingdom, as if he had said, “in the very metropolis,” or, “in the very heart of the kingdom.”
And a statue (42) to the Lord. Let it not be supposed that by statue are meant images which carry the resemblance of men or of saints; but memorials (
Josephus relates (Ant. 13. 3. 1,) that Onias perverted this passage, when he fled to Ptolemy Philometor, (43) whom he persuaded that it would be advantageous to erect an altar there, on which the Jews who dwelt in that country might sacrifice; and he brought forward this passage, alleging that what the Prophet had foretold ought to be accomplished. The wicked and ambitious priest persuaded the king to do this, though it was openly opposed by the Jews; for the king looked to his own advantage, and that scoundrel, who had been deprived of his rank, sought to obtain additional honor and advancement; so that no entreaty could prevent the execution of that wicked counsel. But Isaiah simply describes the pure worship of God under the figure of signs which were then in use; for he has his eye upon his own age and the men with whom he had to do. This passage, therefore, was wickedly and maliciously perverted by Onias.
But not less impudently do the Popish doctors of the present day torture a passage in Malachi to defend the sacrifice of the Mass. When he says that “a pure oblation will everywhere be offered to God,” (Malachi 1:11,) they infer that it is some sacrifice different from the ancient sacrifices, because oxen and sheep must no longer be sacrificed, and therefore that it is the Mass. A witty and ingenious argument truly! Now, it is evident that under the legal figure Malachi describes nothing else than the pure worship of God, as Isaiah does here; and we ought carefully to observe such forms of expression, which are frequently employed by the prophets.
This will be clearly explained by a passage in Joel, which we shall quote as an example. “Your sons and your daughters,” says he, “shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Joel 2:28.) Peter shews (Acts 2:16) that this prediction was fulfilled, when the apostles spoke various languages through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Having formerly been uneducated men, they began to be qualified for declaring the mysteries of God. On that occasion we perceive no “dreams,” so that it might be thought that Peter quoted that passage inappropriately; but it is evident that Joel there describes nothing else than prophecy, and for the purpose of adorning it, he mentioned “visions and dreams,” by means of which the Lord anciently held communication with the prophets. (Numbers 12:6.) He kept in view the ordinary custom of that age; for otherwise the Jews would have found it difficult to comprehend the gifts of the Spirit which at that time were unknown. Having been reared under that preparatory instruction of the Law, (44) they could rise no higher than where they were conducted by sacrifices, ceremonies, sacraments, and signs. (45) So then the prophets addressed them as children, who ought to have nothing set before them beyond what they can learn in a homely style (
This doctrine will unfold to us various passages, the obscurity of which might lead to much hesitation. It is plain that the Prophet speaks of the kingdom of Christ, and that these things were not fulfilled before his coming. We must therefore take away the shadows and look at the reality of things, in order that by the altar we may understand a true and sincere calling on God. But by these signs the Prophet likewise shews that the worship of God cannot be maintained without external acts of devotion, though we have no right to lay down rules for them. Away with the inventions of men, that we may listen to God alone on this subject.
(42) Bogus footnote
(43) Bogus footnote
(44) Bogus footnote
(45) Bogus footnote
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/isaiah-19.html. 1840-57.
Now he turns to Egypt.
The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians ( Isaiah 19:1-2 ):
So God is speaking here of a civil war.
and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom ( Isaiah 19:2 ).
There's going to be civil turmoil and war within Egypt.
And 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. And 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 19:3-4 ).
And then he begins to make some very interesting predictions.
The waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. And they shall turn the rivers far away ( Isaiah 19:5-6 );
The word there is translated in one of the new versions, "And they shall dam the river far away."
and the brooks of defense shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast their hook into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread their nets upon the waters shall languish. Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded. And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make the sluices and ponds for fish. Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say you of the Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? ( Isaiah 19:6-11 )
Now here is a prediction that the river shall be dammed far away. The Aswan Dam surely answers to this prediction. As early as 1970 they began to discover some of the ecological problems that were created by the building of the Aswan Dam. In a report made to the Congress and has become a part of the Congressional record, number S3448, in an ecology report the first thing that they drew the attention to was the smog in Los Angeles as an ecology disaster. But the second thing was the DDT problem that since has been resolved by laws. But then the third thing was Egypt, and here is what was said, "The Aswan Dam has slowed down the Nile. Six hundred miles downriver the sandbars have stopped building up on the delta. The Mediterranean is flooding the delta and one million fertile acres have disappeared under saltwater. Below the dam, snails carry the blood flukes of schistosomiasis. And thousands of men and women and children are going to die of this painful, cruel disease. The Nile no longer carries its nutrient-rich sediments out to sea, and the fish are disappearing and the fishing families are moving to the slums of Cairo and Alexandria. That source of food is disappearing. Also, oxygen from the loss of the greenery and water."
Now ten years later, as further studies are made concerning the ecological damage of the building of the Aswan Dam, the first thing, of course, that the prophet here does talk about is the saltwater intrusion into the delta, the rich delta farmland area. And this has continued. The idea of damming up the Aswan was, of course, to create a control of the water flow into the irrigation canals and so forth and hopefully to open up thousands of new agricultural acres by the irrigation projects. But they have discovered that through the saltwater intrusion and into the most fertile area of Egypt, into the delta, the Nile delta, through the saltwater intrusion, they have lost over twice the acreage, agriculture acreage as they were gaining. You see, it used to be at the flood tide as the Nile River would bring the silt and all into the Mediterranean, that it built up these silt dams against the Mediterranean creating this very fertile delta area much like we have down in El Centro and so forth, that fertile area that has been built up by the Colorado over the years.
Now with the Nile no longer flooding, they've lost the agricultural area by saltwater intrusion from the Mediterranean. First thing he predicted. But not only that, all the reeds and so forth that used to grow along the Nile were killed because there is a little snail that sort of feeds, eats at its roots, but it used to be carried away every year in the flood season. But now that there is no more flood season, these little snails have destroyed all of the reeds and everything that used to be along the Nile River. Even as Isaiah said.
Now in 1970 the fishing industry was beginning to disappear, it has now totally disappeared. It doesn't exist. They do not have any more fishing industry. There in the Mediterranean there used to be tremendous schools of fish that supplied Egypt with one of its greatest protein sources. Just an overabundant supply of fish, because they would feed on the rich nutrients that were carried by the Nile River on into the Mediterranean Sea. But now that there is no great flooding and the carrying of these nutrients in, the fish, they don't know what happened to them, if they just left and gone someplace else, or just disappeared. But there is no more fishing industry. It is amazing to me that 2700 years ago, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to not only prophesy the building of the Aswan Dam as they will turn away the river far away, but also to prophesy those ecological disasters that would be created by the damming of the Nile River. There has even been suggestions by the Egyptians that the Aswan Dam be blown up in order to seek to correct the ecological disasters that have resulted from its building.
It is interesting then that at the end of the prophecy he sort of takes off against those engineers and counselors that advised them to build the Aswan Dam. "The counselors of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counselors of Pharaoh is become brutish. How can they say, 'I am wise, the son of the ancient kings'?"
Where are they? where are the wise men? and let them tell you now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts has purposed upon Egypt ( Isaiah 19:12 ).
Men are so wise. Now let them tell you. God has already told you what damages are going to happen. These men are so wise let them tell you what God has purposed.
The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof. The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man who is staggering in his own vomit ( Isaiah 19:13-14 ).
What a graphic picture.
Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do. In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shakes over it. And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that makes mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it ( Isaiah 19:15-17 ).
And so interesting as we look at the situations today and see how clearly and concisely God has actually spoken of these things. "The land of Judah even again becoming a terror unto Egypt."
In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day ( Isaiah 19:18-21 ),
"In that day," begins to go ahead into the future into the day of the Lord. When God is going to work, of course, in the coming of Jesus Christ throughout the world. But Egypt is going to become a religious center for the worshipping of the Lord. Right now, of course, Egypt is strongly Moslem. They have laws in Egypt against witnessing, proselytizing; it's a capital crime. If you seek to lead a Moslem to Jesus Christ in Egypt, you could be put to death. It's a capital offense to seek to convert a Moslem to another faith. But in that day, the Lord shall be known to Egypt. They'll know the Lord.
and they will do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them ( Isaiah 19:21-22 ).
Now Egypt will be smitten by the antichrist, actually, when he takes his forces and he starts a move towards Africa to conquer Africa. He will pass through Egypt. He'll get to the borders of Ethiopia, at which time tidings out of the north and the east will trouble him, for he will hear that the Chinese have been moving their armies westward. And he will turn in all of his fury to meet the invading armies of the east and of the north, the regrouped forces of Russia, and they will meet in a deadly conflict in the valley of Megiddo. So Egypt is going to suffer. They will be conquered by the forces of Europe as they begin their invasion of Africa. But it is an invasion that will never be completed, because as soon as Egypt is taken, as they start to move against Ethiopia, is when the news comes of the invading forces from the east and from the north at which time the antichrist will turn to meet them with the European forces. And thus the battle of Armageddon.
In that day ( Isaiah 19:24 )
The day of the Lord after He has healed them and established them, actually Assyria, which is modern-day Iraq, and Egypt will have a highway going between them passing through Israel. And the three nations will be joined together in a beautiful harmony and accord in the glorious day of the Lord.
it shall be that Israel shall be a third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance ( Isaiah 19:24-25 ).
And so God's glorious work in that day; that day when Jesus comes to establish God's kingdom. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/isaiah-19.html. 2014.
Abraham built an altar to express his gratitude and commitment to the Lord (Genesis 12:8; cf. Joshua 22:34; Joshua 24:26-27), and Jacob erected a pillar when he memorialized God’s covenant to him (Genesis 28:22). The Egyptians will do these things throughout their land to express those things in that day (Isaiah 19:19). Israelites during the Judges Period cried out to God because of their oppressors, and He sent them deliverers (Judges 3:9; Judges 3:15; Judges 6:7; Judges 10:10). Their great oppressor in the past, of course, had been Egypt herself. Similarly, when the Egyptians call out to God for help, He will send them a Savior and a Champion, Messiah (Isaiah 19:20). The Lord revealed Himself to the Israelites and brought them into a saving relationship with Himself through bitter defeat in the Exodus (Exodus 7:5; Exodus 9:29; Exodus 14:4). He will do the same to the Egyptians in that future day (Isaiah 19:21; cf. Jeremiah 31:34; Zechariah 14:16-18), and they will respond with appropriate worship. Parents sometimes strike their children to bring them into line, and God will discipline Egypt to bring her to Himself. He will hurt them, but He will hurt them to heal them, like a surgeon (Isaiah 19:22). This whole section is a picture of reconciliation still future.
"This is the point: the worship of Yahweh in Egypt will be open and official. . . . Historical fulfillment here, like historical fulfillment in each of the five ’in that day’ passages, did not occur." [Note: Watts, p. 258.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/isaiah-19.html. 2012.
In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt,.... Josephus c, and other Jewish writers d, suppose this to be fulfilled when Onias, the son of Simeon the just, fled into Egypt, and obtained leave of Ptolemy king of Egypt, and Queen Cleopatra, to build a temple and an altar there, like those at Jerusalem, in order to draw the Jews thither, which was about six hundred years after this prophecy; and who did build both a temple and an altar in the nome of Heliopolis, about twenty three miles from the city of Memphis, and which continued three hundred and forty three years; but not a material altar is here meant, but a figurative and spiritual one, and no other than Christ, who is the altar that sanctifies every gift, and upon which the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise being offered up are acceptable to God. The phrase denotes a public profession of Christ, and a setting up of his worship; it is used in allusion to the patriarchs, who, wherever they came, set up an altar to the Lord, and worshipped him:
and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord; in like manner as the patriarchs used to do, Genesis 28:18 it signifies not only that in the middle of the land, but upon the borders of it, the Christian religion should be embraced and professed; so that no sooner did a man step into it, but he should find that this was the religion professed there: it signifies that here would be placed ministers of the Gospel, who are as pillars to hold forth and support the doctrines of it; and a church state, which is the pillar and ground of it; and persons converted, that should be pillars in the house of God, that should never go out; see Proverbs 9:1.
c Antiqu. l. 13. c. 3. sect. 1. 3. & de Bello Jud. l. 7. c. 10. sect. 2, 3, 4. d T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 109. 2.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/isaiah-19.html. 1999.
|Promises to Egypt.||B. C. 710.|
18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. 19 In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. 20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. 21 And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. 22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them. 23 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. 24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: 25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
Out of the thick and threatening clouds of the foregoing prophecy the sun of comfort here breaks forth, and it is the sun of righteousness. Still God has mercy in store for Egypt, and he will show it, not so much by reviving their trade and replenishing their river again as by bringing the true religion among them, calling them to, and accepting them in, the worship of the one only living and true God; and these blessings of grace were much more valuable than all the blessings of nature wherewith Egypt was enriched. We know not of any event in which this prophecy can be thought to have its full accomplishment short of the conversion of Egypt to the faith of Christ, by the preaching (as is supposed) of Mark the Evangelist, and the founding of many Christian churches there, which flourished for many ages. Many prophecies of this book point to the days of the Messiah; and why not this? It is no unusual thing to speak of gospel graces and ordinances in the language of the Old-Testament institutions. And, in these prophecies, those words, in that day, perhaps have not always a reference to what goes immediately before, but have a peculiar significancy pointing at that day which had been so long fixed, and so often spoken of, when the day-spring from on high should visit this dark world. Yet it is not improbable (which some conjecture) that this prophecy was in part fulfilled when those Jews who fled from their own country to take shelter in Egypt, when Sennacherib invaded their land, brought their religion along with them, and, being awakened to great seriousness by the troubles they were in, made an open and zealous profession of it there, and were instrumental to bring many of the Egyptians to embrace it, which was an earnest and specimen of the more plentiful harvest of souls that should be gathered in to God by the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Josephus indeed tells us that Onias the son of Onias the high priest, living an outlaw at Alexandria in Egypt, obtained leave of Ptolemy Philometer, then king, and Cleopatra his queen, to build a temple to the God of Israel, like that at Jerusalem, at Bubastis in Egypt, and pretended a warrant for doing it from this prophecy in Isaiah, that there shall be an altar to the Lord in the land of Egypt; and the service of God, Josephus affirms, continued in it about 333 years, when it was shut up by Paulinus soon after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans; see Antiq. 13.62-79, and Jewish War 7.426-436. But that temple was all along looked upon by the pious Jews as so great an irregularity, and an affront to the temple at Jerusalem, that we cannot suppose this prophecy to be fulfilled in it.
Observe how the conversion of Egypt is here described.
I. They shall speak the language of Canaan, the holy language, the scripture-language; they shall not only understand it, but use it (Isaiah 19:18; Isaiah 19:18); they shall introduce that language among them, and converse freely with the people of God, and not, as they used to do, by an interpreter,Genesis 42:23. Note, Converting grace, by changing the heart, changes the language; for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Five cities in Egypt shall speak this language; so many Jews shall come to reside in Egypt, and they shall so multiply there, that they shall soon replenish five cities, one of which shall be the city of Heres, or of the sun, Heliopolis, where the sun was worshipped, the most infamous of all the cities of Egypt for idolatry; even there shall be a wonderful reformation, they shall speak the language of Canaan. Or it may be taken thus, as we render it--That for every five cities that shall embrace religion there shall be one (a sixth part of the cities of Egypt) that shall reject it, and that shall be called a city of destruction, because it refuses the methods of salvation.
II. They shall swear to the Lord of hosts, not only swear by him, giving him the honour of appealing to him, as all nations did to the gods they worshipped; but they shall by a solemn oath and vow devote themselves to his honour and bind themselves to his service. They shall swear to cleave to him with purpose of heart, and shall worship him, not occasionally, but constantly. They shall swear allegiance to him as their King, to Christ, to whom all judgment is committed.
III. They shall set up the public worship of God in their land (Isaiah 19:19; Isaiah 19:19): There shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, an altar on which they shall do sacrifice and oblation (Isaiah 19:21; Isaiah 19:21); therefore it must be understood spiritually. Christ, the great altar, who sanctifies every gift, shall be owned there, and the gospel sacrifices of prayer and praise shall be offered up; for by the law of Moses there was to be no altar for sacrifice but that at Jerusalem. In Christ Jesus all distinction of nations is taken away; and a spiritual altar, a gospel church, in the midst of the land of Egypt, is as acceptable to God as one in the midst of the land of Israel; and spiritual sacrifices of faith and love, and a contrite heart, please the Lord better than an ox or bullock.
IV. There shall be a face of religion upon the nation, and an open profession made of it, discernible to all who come among them. Not only in the heart of the country, but even in the borders of it, there shall be a pillar, or pillars, inscribed, To Jehovah, to his honour, as before there had been such pillars set up in honour of false gods. As soon as a stranger entered upon the borders of Egypt he might perceive what God they worshipped. Those that serve God must not be ashamed to own him, but be forward to do any thing that may be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts. Even in the land of Egypt he had some faithful worshippers, who boasted of their relation to him and made his name their strong tower, or bulwark, on their borders, with which their coasts were fortified against all assailants.
V. Being in distress, they shall seek to God, and he shall be found of them; and this shall be a sign and a witness for the Lord of hosts that he is a God hearing prayer to all flesh that come to him,Isaiah 19:20; Isaiah 19:20. See Psalms 65:2. When they cry to God by reason of their oppressors, the cruel lords that shall rule over them (Isaiah 19:4; Isaiah 19:4) he shall be entreated of them (Isaiah 19:22; Isaiah 19:22); whereas he had told his people Israel, who had made it their own choice to have such a king, that they should cry to him by reason of their king, and he would not hear them,1 Samuel 8:18.
VI. They shall have an interest in the great Redeemer. When they were under the oppression of cruel lords perhaps God sometimes raised them up mighty deliverers, as he did for Israel in the days of the judges; and by them, though he had smitten the land, he healed it again; and, upon their return to God in a way of duty, he returned to them in a way of mercy, and repaired the breaches of their tottering state. For repenting Egyptians shall find the same favour with God that repenting Ninevites did. But all these deliverances wrought for them, as those for Israel, were but figures of gospel salvation. Doubtless Jesus Christ is the Saviour and the great one here spoken of, whom God will send the glad tidings of to the Egyptians, and by whom he will deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, that they may serve him without fear,Luke 1:74; Luke 1:75. Jesus Christ delivered the Gentile nations from the service of dumb idols, and did himself both purchase and preach liberty to the captives.
VII. The knowledge of God shall prevail among them, Isaiah 19:21; Isaiah 19:21. 1. They shall have the means of knowledge. For many ages in Judah only was God known, for there only were the lively oracles found; but now the Lord, and his name and will, shall be known to Egypt. Perhaps this may in part refer to the translation of the Old Testament out of Hebrew into Greek by the LXX., which was done at Alexandria in Egypt, by the command of Ptolemy king of Egypt; and it was the first time that the scriptures were translated into any other language. By the help of this (the Grecian monarchy having introduced their language into that country) the Lord was known to Egypt, and a happy omen and means it was of his being further known. 2. They shall have grace to improve those means. It is promised not only that the Lord shall be known to Egypt, but that the Egyptians shall know the Lord; they shall receive and entertain the light granted to them, and shall submit themselves to the power of it. The Lord is known to our nation, and yet I fear there are many of our nation that do not know the Lord. But the promise of the new covenant is that all shall know the Lord, from the least even to the greatest, which promise is sure to all the seed. The effect of this knowledge of God is that they shall vow a vow to the Lord and perform it. For those do not know God aright who either are not willing to come under binding obligations to the Lord or do not make good those obligations.
VIII. They shall come into the communion of saints. Being joined to the Lord, they shall be added to the church, and be incorporated with all the saints. 1. All enmities shall be slain. Mortal feuds there had been between Egypt and Assyria; they often made war upon one another; but now there shall be a highway between Egypt and Assyria (Isaiah 19:23; Isaiah 19:23), a happy correspondence settled between he two nations; they shall trade with one another, and every thing that passes between them shall be friendly. The Egyptians shall serve (shall worship the true God) with the Assyrians; and therefore the Assyrians shall come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria. Note, It becomes those who have communion with the same God, through the same Mediator, to keep up an amicable correspondence with one another. The consideration of our meeting at the same throne of grace, and our serving with each other in the same business of religion, should put an end to all heats and animosities, and knit our hearts to each other in holy love. 2. The Gentile nations shall not only unite with each other in the gospel fold under Christ the great shepherd, but they shall all be united with the Jews. When Egypt and Assyria become partners in serving God Israel shall make a third with them (Isaiah 19:24; Isaiah 19:24); they shall become a three-fold cord, not easily broken. The ceremonial law, which had long been the partition-wall between Jews and Gentiles, shall be taken down, and then they shall become one sheep-fold under one shepherd. Thus united, they shall be a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless,Isaiah 19:24; Isaiah 19:25. (1.) Israel shall be a blessing to them all, because of them, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, and they were the natural branches of the good olive, to whom did originally pertain its root and fatness, and the Gentiles were but grafted in among them,Romans 11:17. Israel lay between Egypt and Assyria, and was a blessing to them both by bringing them to meet in that word of the Lord which went forth from Jerusalem, and that church which was first set up in the land of Israel. Qui conveniunt in aliquo tertio inter se conveniunt--Those who meet in a third meet in each other. Israel is that third in whom Egypt and Assyria agree, and is therefore a blessing; for those are real and great blessings to their generation who are instrumental to unite those that have been at variance. (2.) They shall all be a blessing to the world: so the Christian church is, made up of Jews and Gentiles; it is the beauty, riches, and support of the world. (3.) They shall all be blessed of the Lord. [1.] They shall all be owned by him as his. Though Egypt was formerly a house of bondage to the people of God, and Assyria an unjust invader of them, all this shall now be forgiven and forgotten, and they shall be as welcome to God as Israel. They are all alike his people whom he takes under his protection. They are formed by him, for they are the work of his hands; not only as a people, but as his people. They are formed for him; for they are his inheritance, precious in his eyes, and dear to him, and from whom he has his rent of honour out of this lower world. [2.] They shall be owned together by him as jointly his, his in concert; they shall all share in one and the same blessing. Note, Those that are united in the love and blessing of God ought, for that reason, to be united to each other in charity.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/isaiah-19.html. 1706.
The Fruits of Grace
Published on Thursday, June 8th, 1916.
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
On Lord's day Evening, January 21st, 1872.
"In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the Lord of hosts; one shall be called the city of destruction. In that day shall there be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. And it all be for a sign and for a witness unto the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a Saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it. And the Lord shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them. In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even blessing in the midst of the land: whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the, work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance." Isaiah 19:18-25 .
This promise stands on record to be, fulfilled at some future day In those bright days for which some of us are looking, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, so the waters cover the sea, then shall this word to Egypt be verified; yea, and God shall be glorified both by Egypt and Assyria, as well as in the land of Israel. This ought to be an encouragement to carry on missionary operations with great vigour. Here is a distinct promise for Assyria and for Egypt. Let not the missionary be afraid, even if for thousands of years to come there should be little apparent success to the preaching of the gospel. If the Lord should tarry another six thousand years, ay, sixty thousand years and he may we are still to go on working, and still to go on labouring, looking for his coming, and expecting it, but not relaxing our efforts because he pleases to delay it, for the Lord has sworn that all flesh shall know his glory, and you may depend upon it, there is no spot of earth that shall be left to be Satan's dominion. It shall be conquered for Christ, and in truth he shall "see of the travail of his soul, and he shall be satisfied." It is most encouraging to find Egypt mentioned. You find it in one of the Psalms, "Princes shall come out of Egypt, and they shall come out of Ethiopia." Now this I believe to be the litera1 meaning of the passage. You must understand that the prophecy was given to the people of Israel, and it was given to them, as it were, to children that were using types and figures. It speaks in their language. Hence it speaks of altars, and pillars, and oblations, all of which are to be understood now in the spiritual sense. The Church of God has come to her manhood, in which she has done with material altars and material oblations, seeing that she has Christ to be her only altar, her only priest, and prayer and praise to be the spiritual oblation which she shall bring. I understand the prophecy to be, in brief, just this. In the latter day, Egypt will be converted, and Assyria too, and wonders of grace will be performed in that land, and the people of the land shall with delight worship the Most High.
Having said this, I am now going to use the text for another purpose. Here is a wonderful display of the grace of God in this promise to Egypt. I see the very heart of God revealed. I see a display of what God will do, not to Egypt only, but to others also, and though we have much to say, we will try to open up, in as few particulars as we can make them, the display of grace which God gives among the sons of men. We begin thus:
I. THE GRACE OF GOD OFTEN COMES TO THE VERY WORST OF MEN.
It is promised to Egypt. Now Egypt was the nation which was the type of God's enemies. It was over Egypt that he triumphed at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord?" and we regard Egypt as always being typical of the enemies of God the peculiar and chief enemies. Yet the grace of God is to come to Egypt. And so will it come often to the worst enemies that God has. Saul of Tarsus, foaming at the mouth with rage against the Christ of God, was met and conquered by eternal love, and his heart was renewed, and he was made an apostle. And oftentimes since then, electing love has chosen those that were most furious against Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon them, and turned the lions into lambs, and made them lie down at the feet of the Saviour. Let us have hope for the worst of men, and let the worst of men have hope for themselves under the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Egyptians were a peculiarly debased people as to their idolatry. If you go into the British Museum you will still see the cats, the crocodiles, the scarlet ibis, which they were accustomed to worship. Besides that, it was one of the sarcasms of the Roman poets that the Egyptians worshipped gods which they grew in their own gardens. They had the sacred beetle, the sacred mouse, and I know not what. And yet, degraded as they were by idolatry, the grace of God was to come to them. And men may have gone far into superstition; they may have debased even their own intellect by what they have tried to believe, and forced themselves down into the very deeps of superstition, and yet, for all that, the grace of God can come to them and lift them up. And the Egyptian were degraded politically too, for we read in one passage of the prophets that Egypt shall be the basest of all nations; and yet, though the basest of nations in that respect, the grace of God shall coma to them. Oh! how wondrous is the sovereignty of God! The devil cannot dye a soul so scarlet in sin but what the blood of Christ can make it white as snow. Satan cannot drive a chosen sheep of Christ so far on the mountains of vanity, or into the deserts of sin, but what the great Shepherd of the sheep can find that sheep, and bring it back again. There is hope for the mart sunken. There is hope for those that grovel, and that sink in the mire The infinite compassion of God can reach them, and the eternal power of God can lift them up.
But there is one singular note in the text, that one of the cities in that land of Egypt (if I read the text aright) that was to be saved was called the City of Destruction. It had come to be named by that name, and yet, think of that, God looked upon it with mercy. Now there are in villages, and there are in towns, and certainly there are in London, men that have become so notorious for every sort of vice and sin that they are only known as the devil's own servants; and if anybody in the place were to speak of them, it would be with no question about the horrible condition of their minds and the state of their character. And yet in how many cases has the Lord been pleased to make such beings, new men in Christ Jesus! I have some in my mind's eye now, who have been to me a source of unutterable joy, whose characters were known, and certainly not admired. They were the dread of all with whom they dwelt. I remember one whose fist had many a time laid low his adversary, and whose oaths, and cursings, and songs at midnight often made the village tremble when he was filled with drink. But what a humble child he became when at last the gospel brought him down! How changed and how quiet was his manner when Jesus Christ had renewed his soul something like John Bunyan with his drink and his Sabbath breakings but what a saint was he when bowed at his Saviour's feet, he found his sins forgiven! We must not say, "Our children are hopeful, and God will save them, but we cannot expect him to look upon the fallen and degraded." Ah! if, is Pharisaism that would make us speak so. The gospel has found some of its brightest jewels in the lowest haunts of vice. Bear it, bear it into the caves of darkness, where the blackness seems to be palpable, and to hang like the glooms of death bear ye aloft the everlasting torch, which the divine Lord himself has kindled, and you shall discover by its light some precious blood redeemed ones, who shall be to the praise of the glory of his grace. "One shall be called the City of Destruction, but thus saith the Lord, I have delivered it, I will save it, for my name's sake."
Now this ought to be very encouraging to every hearer present, for where there is mercy proclaimed to the chief of sinners, there is encouragement to every form of sinner to come humbly to the heavenly Father, and plead the precious blood of Jesus, and obtain life and peace. God grant we may be led there for his name's sake! But now the second observation is that grace is displayed in our text from the fact that:
II. GOD'S GRACE SENDS A SAVIOUR.
Note, too, that he adds this word, "A GREAT ONE, and he shall deliver them." Beloved friends, you know, all of you, what I have to say, but yet, though you know it, I know no story ever make score glad your spirit than the old, old story of the Saviour. He that has same to save us is Jesus, the Son of God; to save us from every stain of sin; to save us from our propensity to sin, from the power of our habits, and from the snares of Satan. He has come to save us from the death eternal, to save us from the wrath to come. God has sent us a Saviour. We could not have saved ourselves, but one has come who can. The text says that Saviour is a great one. Oh! I wanted a great Saviour. A little Saviour would not have answered my turn, for great sin wanted a great atonement, and my hard heart wanted great grace to soften it down. Now he that came to save us was God himself Jesus nothing less than God counting it not robbery to be equal with God. He is great in his nature, for as God he is infinite omnipotent. He is great also in what he has done. Look to him on the cross; it is the Son of God pouring out his life for sinners that they may live through his death. There most be great merit in such a sacrifice. I never dare believe in any limited merit in Christ. He who gave himself there upon the cross, being very God of very God, though certainly man there can be no limit set to the value of the atonement which he made. Oh! beloved, it is a great Saviour that God gives. And now that he has risen from the dead, he stands before God to plead for us, and it is no little plea no plea which might be put back or put off. With authority he pleads before his Father's throne, points to his own wounds, and the Father's heart always yields to the Son's intercession. You have a great Saviour, for he is a great pleader. And, besides that, all power is in his hands; the keys of death and hell are at his girdle, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God. Oh! what a Saviour we have! Dare we doubt him? When we cast ourselves upon him, is there not an end to all our fears, for Jesus is mighty to save,
And what a word that is in the text "a Saviour and a great one, and he shall deliver them"! God did not send Christ at a haphazard. Jesus did not come here to save those who might perchance be saved to make men salvable, but he will save all he came to save. Those on whom he fixed his eye of everlasting love, for whom the precious drops were shed these he will, by the power of his arm, pluck from the jaws of the lion, because, with the blood of his heart he had redeemed them. "He shall deliver them." Oh! you that trust in Jesus, lay this word home. May the Spirit of God lay it home to you. He shall deliver them from all temptation, from all trial, from all affliction, from death itself. "He shall deliver them."
Now put the two points together. We have mentioned that the grace of God comes to the greatest of sinners, and it brings to them a Saviour, and a great one, and I have laid open to you something of the heart of God in the greatness of his compassion. But we must pass on. Where the grace of God comes, it seems from the text that:
III. IT CHANGES MEN'S LANGUAGE.
Turn to the 18th verse. "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan" the spiritual meaning of which is that the grace of God shall make men speak that holy and pure language which is the mark of a child of God. O dear hearer, if the grace of God ever meets with you, your friends will know it every one by your conversation. That man could not speak without an oath; there will be no oath now. When he did speak, it was in a proud, boastful, hectoring way about himself. Ah! you will hardly know him to be the same man; for he will speak so humbly and so gently, and when he comes to speak about himself he will have the tears in his eyes to think of what he used to be, and what the grace of God has done for him now. Then his language would be lascivious and unclean at times, but now he desires not even to hear of such things, much less to mention them; for it is a shame for a Christian to speak of the things which are done by many in secret. The grace of God soon rinses out a man's mouth. His wife knows it; his children know it; his workfolk know it; and though some of them will think him a fool to speak after the way in which he now does though he does not imitate the language of Christians, and is not a cant, yet there is something about his very brogue and talk that might make men say, "Thou also west with Jesus of Nazareth, for thy speech betrayeth thee." Oh! would not it be a mercy if God would change the speech of some in London! Even our boys in the streets sometimes talk in a way that is enough to make your blood chill. Foul words are very common in our streets and elsewhere. O sovereign grace, come and visit these, and they shall speak no longer the language of Babylon and the language of Belial, but they shall speak the language of Canaan, for God shall give them a pure language. When you hear men that once could curse begin to pray, when those who were given to blasphemies begin to pray, and when, instead of hearing the noise of strife in the working-man's house, you hear the song of praise, then is fulfilled the saying that is written, "In that day shall five cities speak the language of Canaan. and swear to the Lord of Hosts." But I must pass on. Where the grace of God comes:
IV. IT SETS MEN ON HOLY SERVICE.
"There shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of :Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord. "When a man is in sin he worships himself, or he serves his pleasure and Satan; but when the grace of God comes, the man begins at once to serve God, and becomes God's servant. I am sure I know houses now that have an altar to God in them the family altar where you would not have thought such a thing could ever have been. I know some, too, that will this very day give of their substance to God, who two or three years ago would have scorned the act. They would have said it was a waste of money altogether to give anything to the cause of the Most High. There are some teaching at the Sabbath school, and spending the day of rest in, perhaps, the hardest toil of the week, and doing it very cheerfully too, who once would have laughed to scorn any proposal that they should have done any such thing. But the Lord, when he gets men's hearts, and washes away their sins, takes them into his service, and males those who were most ready to serve Satan become most willing to serve him. Is not this true I appeal to many here present is it not your delight now to do all you can for the Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps, however, while you say "Yes," you also add, "But I do not do half as much as I should, nor as I ought. "You feel precisely as I also felt and I must make the same confession as yourself. But, brothers and sisters, do not let it end in confession. Let us wake up and do more; for the love that saved us, the love that bought us at such a price, ought not to be recompensed so poorly as it has been. And let us pray for the grace of God, that we may ever have an altar in our own hearts, and be ourselves the sacrifice that our whole life may be a life of consecration to the living God. Oh! that our common dress might be as priestly vestment, and our ordinary meals as sacraments, and ourselves as priests unto the living God; our whole life a psalm, and our whole being a hallelujah to the Most High! Where the grace of God comes with power, it makes the worst of men become the boss, and the lowest of the low become true servants of the living God. "Can it be?" says one; "can I ever be a servant of God" Ah! yes: hark to the song of heaven! "We have washed our robes" then they needed washing "and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Glory be to him who hath made us kings and priests unto our God."
The next display of divine grace in the text is to be seen in this, that where the grace of God comes:
V. IT TEACHES MEN TO PRAY.
We read in the 20th verse, "They shall cry unto the Lord because of oppressors." This is a kind of prayer that only God can teach us. You can easily learn to say a form of prayer, or to read one from a book, but a prayer that can fairly be called a cry is the fruit of grace. The cry is the natural expression of distress. There is no hypocrisy in a cry. When one is sore sick and ready to die, and cries out in anguish, it is the genuine expression of an oppressed spirit. And God always teaches his children to pray such prayers an those. And oh! how sweetly will saved souls pray next to the songs of angels, I think the prayers of new converts are among the sweetest things that ever reach our ears. When we have been a long time professors, we are very apt to get into a sort of stilted mode of talking to God in prayer, and men that have more gifts than graces will spend the time in words, words, words. But oh! how has my heart leaped when I have heard a cry, such as "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" when some soul, ready to burst with fear of the wrath to come, has cried out, "Jesus, Lord, have mercy upon me!" or when some heart that has just found Jesus has praised and magnified the exceeding mercy that has put away its sin. Christ can teach the blasphemer to pray; he can take the profane into his school, and teach them all to cry, and what all the clergy and ministry in the land could not do, namely, teach a man to pray one sincere prayer, God the Holy Ghost can do to the very offscouring and the scum of the universe, when once he comes to deal with them in the way of grace. Wonders of grace to God belong. He that teaches us to pray will teach us to praise him in heaven. The soul that lisps out its desires sincerely to God shall one day sing with cherubim and seraphim before the eternal throne. But I must hasten on. Where grace comes:
VI. IT INSTRUCTS MEN.
We learn this from the next verse, "And the Lord shall be known in Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day." It is a very serious evil with many hearers that they are altogether ignorant of the things of God; but it is delightful to observe how sweetly the Holy Spirit can teach. I have spoken lately with some whom God has called by his grace during the past few weeks, and I have been surprised that, although they had never been Bible readers, nor received any religious instruction in their youth, when the grace of God showed them their sin, he did it thoroughly, and when he showed them the Saviour, he did it in a wondrous way, so that when they came to read the Bible it was not difficult to them to understand it, nor to lay hold upon it with delight, and some have become well instructed in the things of the kingdom in a very short time indeed. There is no teacher like the Holy Spirit! "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord," and when he teaches they are taught indeed. What boots it to a man to know all earthly knowledge if he knows not his God? But where grace comes, the man is no longer a stranger to the Lord; he knows the Father, the Son, the Spirit. He must know the Father, for he has become a child. He must know the Son, for he is his only confidence. He must know the Spirit, for it is the Spirit that dwelleth in him, and hath renewed him. Oh! that God would be pleaded to-night to take some fresh scholars into his school! Don't say, "I am poor and illiterate." What matters that? With the Lord to teach you, you will make an apt scholar. We can only teach your ears; he can teach your hearts. We can only write the copy in a book, but he can write it on the fleshy tablets of your souls. Never despair of being instructed in the things of heaven. The Lord can graciously instruct you, and if he leads you to-night to receive the Saviour the great one he will begin the divine teaching which will end in your being complete in Christ, and your entering into his glory. I want you to notice a little more. Where the grace of God comes into a man's heart:
VII. IT MAKES EVEN TROUBLE A BLESSING TO HIM
Read the 22nd verse. "The Lord shall smite Egypt" there is the trouble-"he shall smite" there is the trouble again-"and heal it " there is the mercy "and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them." An ungodly man when he is in trouble, has nothing whatever to sustain him, and no good comes out of the trouble. But get the heart renewed, and let the man receive the Saviour, and perhaps the greatest mercies he has are those which are blessings in disguise. I read a story the other day an incident which happened to a City Missionary. He was preaching one night out in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and there was a man an extremely aged man, who had lost his wife, and lived in a garret alone. He had scarcely a rag upon him and was nearly starved, and he was going out to commit suicide, but, moved by curiosity, he listened to the preaching of the gospel, and it saved his soul. It turned out that he had once been worth £100,000, and had been a distinguished merchant, but had lost his all in a foolish speculation, and had come down from the heights of riches to the lowest poverty, and at an extreme age he found Christ. The missionary found him friends who kept him with about enough to keep body and soul together a humble crust in a very lowly, solitary room but he used to say that now he had found the Lord; but he might never have found him if he had not lost all his wealth, and he looked upon it as the greatest blessing that had ever occurred to him, that he was brought to such beggary, that he was able and willing to stand in the street to listen to a sermon; for he said that in his riches he had despised the gospel, and had been altogether an atheist and an unbeliever but now, when brought to the lowest, Christ had found him, and he had more happiness with his cross than he had with his wealth. Oh! get the grace of God in your heart, and then broken limbs will be a bleeding. That long depression of trade that brought you oft low will appear a very different thing now. Your lot is very lowly now perhaps, and your toils severe, but God's grace will gild all these dark things in such a way that you shall even learn to glory in tribulation also, and bless the Lord that he did not leave you to be a stranger to him, but made you his child and, therefore, made you feel his rod for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? Beloved, what a blessing it is to have the grace of God, seeing it turns adverse circumstances into true prosperity and makes our losses to be our lasting gains! One other reflection, and that is this concerning the grace of God:
VIII. IT CHANGES THE RELATIONS OF MEN ONE TO ANOTHER.
Read the 23rd verse. "In that day there shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians." Now the Egyptians and the Assyrians were enemies to one another; they were always fighting. There was a bloody feud and war between them century after century; but when the grace of God shall visit them both, there shall be no more fighting; the Egyptian shall go and visit the Assyrian, and the Assyrian shall visit the Egyptian. Have you never met with a case? Two brothers were at enmity, and would not speak to each other. One of them was saved by grace, and he thought, "Oh! if my brother John might be converted!" He wanted to fall into his brother's arms and make it all up, and be friends again. Meanwhile, brother John had heard the gospel somewhere else, and his soul had been saved, and he goes to find out the other brother, and all are reconciled, and the families that had been at a distance are knit together in love. Oh! the gospel soon breaks down barriers. I won't give a penny for your religion if you are at enmity with anybody if you can say of anyone of your kith and kin, "I will never speak to them again." Mind, in that day when you appear before God, how can you expect mercy? Well, now, genuine grace makes us forgive as we have been forgiven, and it establishes intercommunications between those who had long been enemies to one another. Should there happen to be in this place at this time any that have long been at variance, I believe that there is no way of establishing a lasting love between you like your both loving Jesus Christ. If you cannot meet anywhere else, you are sure to meet if you come to the cross. A common Saviour will hind you together. Bought with the same blood, and filled with the same divine life, you will become members of the same mystical body; you cannot help loving each other. Oh! that God would put an end in the world to all wars between nations, as well as all strifes between individuals. It won't come about by trade, nor yet be politics, nor by anything of man's devising; but if the gospel spreads, if God converts Egypt and converts Assyria, then Egypt will not desire war with Asia, nor Assyria with Egypt, but they shall be one in Christ Jesus the Lord. Wonders of grace! wonders of grace, that those that hated should love, and enemies should become friends. We will close with these last words. Where the grace of God comes:
IX. IT MAKES MEN TO BE BLESSED, AND TO BE A BLESSING.
You will find that affirmed in the last two verses. "They shall be a blessing in the midst of the land, and it shall be said, Blessed be Egypt, my people." The man that was accursed before, and was a curse, becomes blessed, and is a blessing. I will not enlarge upon it, but I will say this to you, the members of the church. It has delighted me to find the many earnest hearts there are here that are trying, to do good, some in one way, and some in another. I would in every case, if my encouragement were worth your having, give it you very heartily. But, beloved, if I do not know of it, and if no one knows of it but yourself and God, go on, go on. It is God's work to save souls, and you are workers together with him. Oh! this city wants you wants ten thousand earnest spirits. The lodging-houses want you; the alleys and the courts want you; the poor want you; the rich want you. If you have anything to say of the remedy which wisdom has prepared for the remedy of sins disease, the millions want it. They won't come to hear the gospel presaged, take it to their houses, carry it to their doors. If they reject a Saviour, let it not he for want of your hunting after them. Push it in their way. Sow beside all waters. In season and out of season teach ye the Word. Ye know not where God may bless you. But never be discouraged because of the badness of the neighbourhood, or the lowness of the character of the people. If Egypt shall be saved, have faith for this Egypt. If Assyria shall be saved, have confidence in God for those who are often worse than heathens, and you shall have your reward in that day when he of the pierced hand shall distribute crowns to those who faithfully serve him. Rewards, not of debt, but of grace, shall be given to the most obscure and unknown of you, who for his sake have sought to teach little children or to reclaim the adult who had fallen into sin. Take courage your work of faith and labour of love are not in vain in the Lord, and will do wonders yet to the praise of his grace. And as to you that are not saved. I have been saying great things of encouragement to you. I don't know who may take hold of them, but if there were one here who should reckon himself to be quite out of hope, it is to that man I spoke; and if there is a man here who says. "You don't mean me; you don't know my character," I will suppose it to be the worst character that was ever heard of I meant you. He is "able to save unto the uttermost than that come unto God by him." "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men." Seek ye the Lord! Confess your sins to him. Weep out your confession with your head on your Father's bosom and say, "Forgive me, forgive me for thy Son's sake," and it shall be done unto you. God grant it may be done, even now: for his name's sake! Amen.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Isaiah 19:19". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/isaiah-19.html. 2011.
the Week of Proper 22 / Ordinary 27