In Is. 13-34 we see around many nations and people groups prophesied about/against by Isaiah. This is a complex portion of the book because we have statements that seem to be focused upon the immediate end of exile that would occur once Israel/Judah was released from Assyria/Babylon/Medo-Persia. Some of the language has messianic overtones. Some of the language seems eschatological/apocalyptic. I think it would be hard to read these passages with a strict chronology. Rather, there is a sense in which a poetic vision that covers centuries is smashed together in such a way that the reader may assume a sort of cause-and-effect relationship (e.g. When exile ends Messiah must come and Israel must rule the nations, successively.), but that does not seem to be how these passages function. At least over time we have seen that the physical end of exile was not followed immediately by Messiah and the Messiah has not been followed immediately by Israel/Judah’s prominence amongst the nations.
As I read through Is. 19 recently I must confess that I thought about modern Egypt and their political transition. I didn’t think that Is. 19 was referring to contemporary events, per se, but all the events in the news came to mind. That being said, I was a bit surprised to read Walter Kaiser’s take on the Koinonia blog (see the post here).
For Kaiser the recent events did just bring Is. 19 to his mind, he argues that Is. 19 is relevant to what has been happening. Let me share the relevant three paragraphs:
Yes, I believe the Isaiah 19 passage is most relevant. Verses 16 to 25 place the coming events “in that day” six times (vss 16, 18, 19, 21, 23, and 24). Since the prophecies to the foreign nations are bounded by chapter on the first advent of Christ (Isa 7-12) and the second advent of Christ (24-27), chapters 13-23 fall between those two end pieces in position and apparently in time as well. That is why I also stress the eschatological phrase “In that day.”
After the Civil Disaster of 19:2-4, the economic disaster of 19: 5-10 (as a result of the Aswan Project in 1970), and the Intellectual Disaster im 19:11-15, a bridge passage of vss 16-17 has the Egyptians afraid of Judah for the first time in her history, which cannot be other than the events of the six day war in 1967.
However, the text turns to the distant future of “In that day” in vss 18-24 and gives five new works of God’s salvation and deliverance for Egypt: (1) Revival will break out in Egypt’s five cities, one being “City of the Sun,” otherwise known as Heliopolis (18), (2) a monument will be erected like our statute of Liberty to remember the great Egyptian Spiritual Revival (19) at the country’s border, (3) the nation of Egypt will be oppressed and apparently given a cruel leader, but God will replace him with a “savior,” much as he did in the book of Judges (21), (4) God will once again strike Egypt with a plague of some sort, but he will heal them as well and the Egyptians will turn to the Lord (22), (5) there will be a highway between Egypt and Iraq (Assyria) so that Iraqis, Egyptians and Israelis will worship together in that day (23) and (6) words of blessing formerly used exclusively of Israel are now used of Egypt, “My People,” and Iraq, “My Handiwork,” and Israel “My Inheritance.”
Kaiser seems to be saying that modern Egypt is the fulfillment of Is. 19. Iraq is the fulfillment of Assyria. And modern Israel is positioned in such a way that for the first time in the nation’s history she stands in strength between these two nations.
This is a bold claim.
What do you think of Kaiser’s reading? Do you think modern Egypt has anything to do with Is. 19 Egypt? How do you respond to this type of hermeneutic?
I’d like to hear your thoughts here but I also recommend going to the original post to fully hear Kaiser in his own words.