But salted throughout are small groupings of scripture that reflect other parts of the Cycle, and these give insight into the heart of God for his children, misguided as they often are.
Chapter 13 warns of the total destruction of Babylon, an evil nation that God himself used to punish Israel for its idolatry. Yet God can say:
“For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel and will set them in their own land…They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.” (14:1, ESV).
Where God has used an evil nation to punish his children, yet he will restore his children and then proceed with utter destruction of the same evil nation. It is chilling to see how God can use evil for his purposes even though the evil nation is as Satan himself:
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low” (14:12)!
This should be enough for an America that was founded on biblical principles but has faded from and even rejected God today, as we are surrounded by evil dictators in places like North Korea, China, and Iran (which indeed threatens Israel again). It is one thing to have enemies; it is quite another to discover that perhaps they could be hand-chosen by God for our punishment.
I cannot think of a better way to present the need for serious repentance and prayer for restoration to the principles our nation was founded upon than these oracles against Israel’s enemies – because Israel had to be punished first, before God dealt with its enemies.
Isaiah 19 is a warning to Egypt, just as Chapter 13 was to Babylon. In between are warnings to Moab and Damascus. In 19:18 there is another surprising turn:
“In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that…swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts…there will be an altar to the Lord…and a pillar to the Lord at its border…when they cry to the Lord…he will send them a savior and a defender, and deliver them. And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians…and they will make vows to the Lord.” (19:18-21).
This certainly sounds like the Coptic Christians in Egypt today; Jewish presence in Egypt has been virtually wiped out since the 1950s. It is made stronger by what follows:
“And the Lord will strike Egypt, stifling and [then] healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them” (19:22).
Surely the Copts continue to pray for that day. If there is a strong Christian minority anywhere in the world today more faithful and more oppressed than the Copts, I am not aware of it. Stifling and healing, repeatedly, until…what?
God answers in 19:23-25 with the last thing we would expect today in that part of the world – a vision of perfect unity with God, something we still await:
“…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 inheritance’” (19:24b-25).
Is it too much to ask our government to pursue unity just between Democrats and Republicans instead of outright hate? Are we being stifled before healing? Or is the Axis of Evil prepared to strike?
United we stand – before God – or divided we fall.