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Eschatology 101: Prophetic Language or Isaiah 19:1-4 (Part 7)

The book of Isaiah is simply replete with excellent examples of prophetic language that the New Testament authors proceeded to use as "stock images".  But don't worry, today's post will be short. 


An oracle concerning Egypt.

Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, each against another and each against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom;

and the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out, and I will confound their counsel; and they will inquire of the idols and the sorcerers, and the mediums and the necromancers;

and I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master, and a fierce king will rule over them, declares the Lord God of hosts. - Isaiah 19:1-4


This text is really only included for one reason. Like our previous looks at Isaiah, these judgments and visions are against a specific nation that has already been fulfilled. Unlike my previous posts this text doesn't have a great resource for proving it has been fulfilled. 

I think most people can accept that this isn't a description of the Lord's "final coming" given the description contained in the later portion of the chapter. So this is a prophecy that is or will be fulfilled before that "final day". And what stands out about this? 

The LORD Himself is visiting Egypt! It should be safe to say that we know this is not literal language. Idols don't truly tremble and hearts don't really melt. This type of language points back to the conquest of the promise land (Jos 2:11; 5:1; 7:5) which truly was a judgment against the people (Lev 18:24-25) whom God had allowed to build up in iniquity (Gen 15:16). 

Here too, as in Isaiah 13, God is coming against Egypt in judgment. And what is the symbol for God coming against Egypt in judgment? "A swift cloud". This is entirely the imagery lifted from our previous studies of Psalm 97 and Psalm 104. The prophet Isaiah was speaking in the musical song language of the day.

These truth are incredibly important to carry into the New Testament where much of the argument against preterism stems for a hyper-literalism of Jesus Christ "returning on a cloud". The liter way is not the Jewish way. The Psalms and the Prophets make it very obvious how the Scriptures has chosen to speak on these subjects. 

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