A prophecy against Egypt: See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear. “I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian— brother will fight against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. The Egyptians will lose heart, and I will bring their plans to nothing; they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead, the mediums and the spiritists. I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty. The waters of the river will dry up, and the riverbed will be parched and dry. The canals will stink; the streams of Egypt will dwindle and dry up. The reeds and rushes will wither, also the plants along the Nile, at the mouth of the river. Every sown field along the Nile will become parched, will blow away and be no more. The fishermen will groan and lament, all who cast hooks into the Nile; those who throw nets on the water will pine away. Those who work with combed flax will despair, the weavers of fine linen will lose hope. The workers in cloth will be dejected, and all the wage earners will be sick at heart. – Isaiah 19:1-10
The judgement of God finds it way to Egypt in this passage. Of course, this is not the first time Egypt has been subject to God’s wrath to get their attention. There was that Nile turning to blood incident and the subsequent hail storm. The fundamental problem back in Exodus was that the Egyptians saw the Nile River as their god. They seem to have the same problem in this passage.
God arrives “on a swift cloud”, I am not sure if the speed the cloud is moving has any deeper meaning, but I can tell you that if the clouds are moving that fast it can be very windy near the ground surface. I recently took a trip with my wife to a city north of where we live called Traverse City. The city is surrounded by a beautiful bay of Lake Michigan with crystal clear water.
The area experiences very high winds at times and we happened to be there during a time of high wind and waves on the bay. Apparently there is a rule of the sea that you can moor your boat in any bay that is connected to the ocean without paying any mooring fees so many boats were anchored off shore. The wind had switched direction rather suddenly in the night and two boats had pulled loose of their anchors and were beached on the shore being buffeted by waves and filling with sand. I suspect the owners of these boats were not happy to receive a phone call from the police department informing them that their sailboat was dancing in the trees along the shore.
The Egyptians are also not happy about the arrival of God. Family members and kingdoms will fight with one another. They will turn to their own dead for comfort and seek out the wisdom of spiritual leaders who are leading them away from God. They will be ruled by an evil king who does not care about them. The life blood of the Egyptians, the mighty Nile River, will dry up. All of the canals they have built to help them prosper and access water from the Nile River will become stagnant and stinky. Even the great Nile Delta at the mouth of the Nile River will be devastated by drought and failed crops. Their “god” the Nile River will fail them.
Egypt has always set the Nile up as their God and the one they look to for provision. In taking this away God has revealed the spiritual void that is present in the Egyptian’s lives. They try to fill this void with all manner of substitutes like spiritists and worship of the dead, but I suspect that none of these is truly satisfying the spiritual need they feel. But the Egyptians are unwilling to turn toward God and remain dejected and sick at heart by their condition.
I am not sure if there is deeper spiritual message here, but the predicament, spiritual neediness, is certainly something that many people in modern culture experience. People rely on money, relationships, new age philosophies, yoga, and all manner of spiritual substitutes to fill the spiritual void in their lives. I think in the end many of these people feel just as spiritually vacuous as the Egyptians did. They know something is missing from their lives, but they are often unable or unwilling to acknowledge that it is God that is missing.
Prayer: God help us to fill our spiritual needs through You rather than substitutes.