In the last 4,000 years or more, there have not been many nations that have so caught the attention of the rest of the world as the nation of Egypt. The world famous pyramids are among the many structures that have endured over thousands of years of time, affirming the important role this nation played in the Middle East.
Egypt was one of the first to develop into a powerful, scientifically advanced nation of builders, designers, craftsmen, lawgivers and sadly, idol worshippers. Its history was hundreds of years old when Babylon and Assyria were forming, Greece was a group of warring cities and Rome was just a little village.
Egypt was quite isolated, and therefore may have escaped some of the attacks from foreign nations. The deserts on both sides and the life-giving Nile that flowed from the far distant reaches of the south allowed Egypt to develop on its own. There were many internal battles and turmoil as areas were united under one ruler or another, and the nation did expand outwards to a limited extent, but judging from the incredible amount of time and effort it took to build the enormous temples, stone images and the many lesser pyramids as well as the famous three, it seems we are looking at a history of a ruling class, who were completely involved in preparing for their afterlives and the future that they believed would come and less involved in actually living for the moment.
Egypt is mentioned throughout the Bible
In the Bible, Egypt first shows up in Genesis 12:10. At the moment when God was dividing up the nations on Earth after the flood of Noah's time (Genesis 11:7-9), it seems He placed people in Egypt. Though the name “Egypt” does not show up until this point in scripture, it is described as the land to which Abraham traveled. It was a land of plenty and, since there already was a Pharaoh (Genesis 12:15), it is clear that Egypt was somewhat organized as a nation shortly after the flood of Noah’s day. It was the land from which Abraham traveled when he and Lot came north to the area of the Negev Desert (Genesis 13:1).
It seems that Abraham had prospered greatly while in Egypt. He lived about 400 years after the flood, and one has to wonder exactly how and why the great pyramids were constructed and why a burial place was chosen that was above the water level of the Nile. Did Egyptians remember the flood? The Nile is known to have flooded each year, bringing rich soil and added moisture from Africa to ensure abundant crops in the land of Egypt.
The legacy of Ishmael
We see the involvement of the people of Egypt in the family of Abraham. Hagar was the Egyptian handmaid of Sarah and became the mother of Ishmael (Genesis 16:1). This does not mean that the descendants of Hagar and Abraham were the true Egyptians, because clearly they were the mixture of both bloodlines. However, the history of these people with whom God was clearly working was forever interwoven with Abraham’s. Through Ishmael there were to be 12 sons who would also father 12 tribes that would be fierce and independent kinds of people (Genesis 16:11-12; 17: 20, 21:18).
Hagar took a wife for Ishmael from the land of Egypt, and so we see that the nations we generally think of as the Arab nations are a strong mixture of Egyptian blood and the blood of Abraham. Of course, it is God who continued to be involved in the developments of these peoples. He gave the qualities that produced 12 different nations – much as Jacob had 12 sons who also produced 12 different nations (Genesis 25:16-26).
God has repeatedly humbled Egypt
Egypt was a land that was steeped in idolatry. Almost everything was worshipped it seemed, and the whole concept of religion appeared to be a preparation for one's death more than for one's life. Still, it was the land which again and again was involved in God's work. Egypt is referred to dozens of times in the scriptures. Egypt was the land to which God sent Joseph so that the descendants of Israel could survive the terrible famine of those times and grow into a great nation (Genesis 45:5). Egypt provided the opportunity for Israel to grow into a nation for the next 400 years.
God had to extricate the nation of Israel through force, and that was very traumatic for Egypt. There was a cruelty in the way people treated one another in those days. In removing Israel and ensuring a future for them, God placed a heavy hand on Egypt. He killed the firstborn of man and animal in repayment for the deaths of the firstborn sons of Israel and brought enemies into Egypt, which became quite defenseless once its army was destroyed.
It was the land to which Joseph and Mary would flee for safety when Jesus was a baby. That briefly mentioned story in itself is quite marvelous. Joseph and Mary were given riches for the trip (Matthew 2:11-14). Joseph was not a wealthy man, but with the treasure that the wise men brought, he and his family could have used part of that treasure to travel to a strange and foreign country and live there for a few years and then return again and take up residence in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23). Joseph likely would not have known the language of Egypt and, although God no doubt made sure everything went well, it may have been the treasure given by the wise men that allowed them to live comfortably in Egypt and to continue to worship God. There are many more incidents in which Egypt played a large role in the development of the work God was doing on Earth.
Isaiah was one of the major prophets of God. Almost a thousand years after the nation of Israel exited Egypt, he wrote about the "burden against Egypt" and the destruction of its idols (Isaiah 19:1-25; see also Jeremiah 46:25-26). This burden included the incursions of enemies, the loss of pride and power, periods of drought as the Nile River would fail from time to time. The decisions and counsel of the wise men would become foolish and one mistake after another would finally lead these people to turn from their ways and towards God.
Hope for Egypt
He promised to send them a Savior in the end (Isaiah 19:20). God said He would strike Egypt and He would heal Egypt. Throughout this section of scripture, "in that day" refers to the coming of Jesus Christ, when God will bless Egypt by making it one of the three great nations on Earth from which His teachings and way of life would flow. He promises to bless "Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance." God will construct a highway from Egypt to Assyria and those people will come together in His service.
It seems God never really let go of this land. Records of the scriptures were found there, and in later years large numbers of Jews made their home in that land. The highway Isaiah speaks of is more than a physical road. It is an indication of a spiritual connection among these three nations to become the leading nations in the Millennium (the thousand-year reign of Christ on Earth).
Today Egypt is in turmoil. There is a population of about 85 million who depend on the regular flow of the Nile. Most are of the blood of Ishmael. The number of the true Egyptians of old is not great. The true Egyptians of old have never regained the position of power within their own land let alone in the world. That was one part of the burden God placed on them – that others would rule over them (Zechariah 10:11). Greeks, Romans, French and others have ruled Egypt. Presently the rulers are of Ishmael and the dominant religion by far is Islam.
Egypt is so crowded that any disturbance can become a disaster. Poverty is rampant, education is lacking and the preoccupation with religion is shackling the people. They do not know of any other way to live, and God has not yet chosen to make them His people. He will though, and in scripture He calls them “My people.”
Egypt still has a role to play in history. Few lands have been mentioned as often as Egypt in the Bible. Before the time of God's blessing, more of the burden they are carrying has to be completed. There is still to come a great time of war and turmoil in which Egypt will be overrun and will suffer greatly. There will be a time of trouble that will be worse than anything the world has ever known and Egypt will not escape (Matthew 24:21-22).
Long after Israel had left Egypt and God had placed a heavy hand on that nation, Ezekiel states that God will act against Egypt again (he wrote more than a thousand years after Israel had left in the Exodus). He wrote that he would diminish them so they would never again rule over another nation (Ezekiel 29:14-16). Again and again we note that God has an ongoing interaction with this nation. We can also see the continued interaction between Egypt and Israel. There seems to be a fascinating link between them.
At the time of the end when the King of the North attacks the King of the South, Egypt will be a nation that will not escape that time of trouble (Daniel 11:42). It does make us wonder whether God is taking aim at the present ruling population that are descendants of Ishmael or the smaller population of the Egyptians of old who have been kept little and weak over the years. Daniel simply noted that Egypt would not escape in that great war.
Egypt’s future is bright
God is fair and just and wants every man to be saved and that includes the people of Egypt with whom He has had a lengthy relationship. It is God’s intention to raise Egypt to a high position of influence and power in His Kingdom as Jesus Christ establishes it on Earth. It seems they will be the first nation God reaches out to at Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:18-19). Even then there seems to be some hesitation in their response, and the pressure may need to be elevated for them to repent. They will be invited to come to Jerusalem to worship God during the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-43). God says "if" they do not come, they will be punished again and again.
With the history that has already seen so much sadness, we ought to hope and pray that the leadership of the true Egypt will recognize how prophecy has been fulfilled and the part Egypt has played and has yet to play in God's work. That part has been a mixture of good (land of refuge for Abraham, Joseph and Israel, Joseph and Mary) and evil (idol worship and harshness to Israel). Let us pray that the people of Egypt will not see any more of the pain and suffering that has been their part for so long. They are offered a better and wonderful role in the rebuilding of this world after the removal of Satan and his forms of religion. There will be one religion, one form of government, one truth and blessings forevermore if they will listen and turn to God. And they will!
To learn more about the future of Egypt and the world, read our free Bible study aid God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind, which outlines God’s plan for humanity.