Egypt's Burden

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Egypt's Burden

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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 Genesis 12:10And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
American King James Version×
. At the moment when God was dividing up the nations on Earth after the flood of Noah’s time (Genesis 11:7-9 Genesis 11:7-9 [7] Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. [8] So the LORD scattered them abroad from there on the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. [9] Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from there did the LORD scatter them abroad on the face of all the earth.
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), 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 Genesis 12:15The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.
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), 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 Genesis 13:1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
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).

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 Genesis 16:1Now Sarai Abram’s wife bore him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
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). 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 Genesis 16:11-12 [11] And the angel of the LORD said to her, Behold, you are with child and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Ishmael; because the LORD has heard your affliction. [12] And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brothers.
American King James Version×
; 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 Genesis 25:16-26 [16] These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. [17] And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered to his people. [18] And they dwelled from Havilah to Shur, that is before Egypt, as you go toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brothers. [19] And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac: [20] And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. [21] And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. [22] And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. [23] And the LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. [24] And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. [25] And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. [26] And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was three score years old when she bore them.
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).

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 Genesis 45:5Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
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). 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 Matthew 2:11-14 [11] And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented to him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. [12] And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. [13] And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be you there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. [14] When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:
American King James Version×
). 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 Matthew 2:23And he came and dwelled in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
American King James Version×
). 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 Isaiah 19:1-25 [1] The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rides on a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the middle of it. [2] And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. [3] And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the middle thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. [4] And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, said the Lord, the LORD of hosts. [5] And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up. [6] And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defense shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither. [7] The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. [8] The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets on the waters shall languish. [9] Moreover they that work in fine flax, and they that weave networks, shall be confounded. [10] And they shall be broken in the purposes thereof, all that make sluices and ponds for fish. [11] Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say you to Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? [12] Where are they? where are your wise men? and let them tell you now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts has purposed on Egypt. [13] The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also seduced Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof. [14] The LORD has mingled a perverse spirit in the middle thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit. [15] Neither shall there be any work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do. [16] In that day shall Egypt be like to women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shakes over it. [17] And the land of Judah shall be a terror to Egypt, every one that makes mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he has determined against it. [18] In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. [19] In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the middle of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. [20] And it shall be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. [21] And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yes, they shall vow a vow to the LORD, and perform it. [22] And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be entreated of them, and shall heal them. [23] In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. [24] In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the middle of the land: [25] Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.
American King James Version×
; see also Jeremiah 46:25-26 Jeremiah 46:25-26 [25] The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, said; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him: [26] And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants: and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, said the LORD.
American King James Version×
). 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 Isaiah 19:20And it shall be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a savior, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.
American King James Version×
). 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 Zechariah 10:11And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea, and all the deeps of the river shall dry up: and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away.
American King James Version×
). 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 Matthew 24:21-22 [21] For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [22] And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
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).

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 Ezekiel 29:14-16 [14] And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom. [15] It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations. [16] And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which brings their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
American King James Version×
). 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 Daniel 11:42He shall stretch forth his hand also on the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.
American King James Version×
). 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 Zechariah 14:18-19 [18] And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, with which the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. [19] This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
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). 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 Leviticus 23:33-43 [33] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [34] Speak to the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. [35] On the first day shall be an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein. [36] Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein. [37] These are the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing on his day: [38] Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. [39] Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. [40] And you shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. [41] And you shall keep it a feast to the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. [42] You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: [43] That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
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). 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.

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