By Nathan Jones
Is the turmoil going on in Egypt prophetic?
Egypt has torn itself apart as their people riot and their military topples one government after another. What started out as the Arab Spring uprising has turned into a dark winter for Egypt. Hope naively is in the air that democracy and freedom will replace the old order, but fear is also tangible as the specter of Islamic Sharia Law rises to choke Egypt in its militaristic submission to Allah.
Delving below the politics, students of Bible prophecy are deep in discussion over whether Egypt is engaged in some kind of prophetic fulfillment.
A recent "Christ in Prophecy Journal" blog poll of 354 people looked to see where people believed Egypt stood in the prophetic light. As expected, 170 respondents (48%) wisely chose that it was too early to tell. Still, 71 respondents (20%) believe Egypt is experiencing Isaiah 19, and 63 respondents (17%) believe we are witnessing the beginning of the Psalm 83 prophecy. To a lesser degree, some believe Ezekiel 38-39 or Daniel 11:40-45 are in order. Some even, after the close of the poll, suggested Ezekiel 29:12 is beginning.
What do each of those prophecies mean, and are they truly being fulfilled today? Let's take a look.
"I [God] will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian... I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them, declares the Lord." - Isaiah 19:2a,4
While Isaiah's oracle against Egypt certainly sounds relevant to today with Egyptian rising up against Egyptian for or against the latest government, it is still up in the air whether they will be given this cruel tyrant to rule over them. It is indeed possible that the Muslim Brotherhood will regain power among the turmoil and place the people under strict Islamic law. Or, this could ultimately be talking about the coming Antichrist.
Clearly other parts of this oracle haven't occurred yet. Verse 5 tells of the Nile drying up and the canals (Suez?) stinking. Verse 18 tells of five of Egypt's cities being taken over so they "will speak the language of Canaan." Even more amazingly, the people will turn from their idols and "swear allegiance to the LORD Almighty" and "he will respond to their pleas and heal them" (verse 21-22). God will even go as far as building a road from Assyria (modern day Iraq) through Israel to Egypt and proclaim "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance" (verses 23-25).
Prophetically, it could be that Egypt has started on the path of Isaiah 19's prophecy which starts with Egypt's fall, but without a shadow of a doubt Isaiah 19 describes Egypt's final future in Christ's Millennial Kingdom. Along with Jeremiah 12:14-17, it is revealed that Egypt as a nation will make it into Jesus' Millennial Kingdom, though populated by believers, and not living under any judgment.
So, is Isaiah 19 happening today? No, most likely not. This prophecy has all the markings of a yet future fulfillment happening during the Tribulation with its blessings ending up in Christ's Millennial Kingdom.
"I [God] will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries." - Ezekiel 29:12
Are the Egyptians facing a desolation and scattering of its people for 40 long years? One would think so until they read on to Ezekiel 29:19 and 30:10 which shows that the Lord promised that He would "put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon." Historically then, although there's no archaeological record of this happening, we can take the Bible at its word that this event happened over 2,500 years ago.
A slim possibility exists that there may be a future fulfillment of Ezekiel 29 as well. During the coming Millennial Kingdom, if any nation doesn't send representatives to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, they will then suffer drought (Zech. 14:16-19). The Egyptians are singled out in this warning, which suggests they could also see a 40-year exile during that period if they persist in their stubbornness, making Ezekiel 29:12 also yet future. I give this only a very slight nod of the head, though, because God's praise for Egypt during the Millennium recorded in Isaiah 19:23-25 would seem to rule out the harshness of exile.
Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39
"With one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against you... the Hagrites [Egyptians]." - Psalm 83:5-6
Psalm 83 is a prayer calling down judgment and justice upon Israel's neighboring enemies. In Psalm 83, all the nations that are listed have modern equivalents to the nations that today surround Israel: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Gaza and Egypt. Israel has never fully subjugated those lands as the prayer calls, especially since they became a nation once again in 1948.
Ezekiel 38-39, called the Gog-Magog prophecy, foretells a coalition of Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, the Sudan and a number of other Islamic nations uniting together to try to destroy Israel and carry off her wealth. God stepping in to defeat this overwhelming army is nothing short of miraculous and would change the face of world politics as we know it. The Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog Battle creates three main results: 1) The world knows God exists and protects Israel, 2) all of Israel's hostile Muslim enemy countries are defeated, and 3) Israel leaves its secular humanism to accept God (though not His Son until the end of the Tribulation).
Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 are bundled together here because noticeably absent from the Gog-Magog coalition are the countries that directly border Israel. It would appear Israel would have to deal with their hostile neighbors, possibly subjugating them, for the requirements of Ezekiel 38-39 to fall into place.
If anything happening in the Middle East today is fulfilling Bible prophecy, it is that we are witnessing this very day the formation of these coalitions. Iran has set up proxy states through Hamas and Hezbollah and no matter who comes to power in Egypt they still seethe to wipe Israel off the map. Israel has the world's most effective army which could easily subjugate those neighbors. Israel could not defeat Russia along with Iran and Turkey coming from multiple fronts, and so God will have to step in, just as He told Ezekiel He would.
The fall of these Middle Eastern governments today is endangering any peace treaties made with Israel and solidifying the relationships between these Islamic nations against Israel. The danger level towards Israel is being kicked up to maximum and it is possible that any day soon we could see a Psalm 83 scenario unfold.
"He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape. He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt." - Daniel 11:42-43a
Earlier in Daniel 11 we get a stunning play-by-play of the ongoing battle between the dynasties of Alexander the Great's generals. These kings are consecutively labeled the "King of the North" (Syrian Seleucids) and the "King of the South" (Egyptian Ptolemies). This portion of prophecy was fulfilled in such jawdropping accuracy in the decades following Alexander the Great that it's led some to claim that Daniel was written after their fulfillments.
Starting with Daniel 11:36, the picture clearly becomes a prophecy about the future and describes the military campaign of the Antichrist in the Middle East that occurs at the end of the Tribulation. The Antichrist's preoccupation with persecuting the Jews and Tribulation Saints emboldens some of the nations under his control to rebel, and he's forced to deal with the King of the North (possibly Syria or one of the regions controlled by one of his 10 Kings) and the King of the South (possibly Egypt or another of his 10 Kings).
Egypt is certainly wrapped up in this prophecy, but it's very much a Tribulation-centric prophecy and not something we are seeing in today's headlines.
No matter who rules Egypt, the peace treaties with Israel are coming to an end. Unbounded by treaties, armed by Iran, and united by Islamic hatred of all things Jewish, all prophetic indications reveal that the nations surrounding Israel will attack in a Psalm 83 scenario. Following sometime soon after, an outer ring of Muslim nations will attempt to destroy Israel based on Ezekiel 38-39's Gog-Magog Battle. We are very close.