TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 15-19
In Isaiah 19:16-25, there is an interesting confluence of Egypt, Assyria, and Israel “in that day.”
Why does verse 24 say, “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth?” Both Egypt and Assyria held Israel in bondage and slavery. How will the three be together? What does it mean that the three will be together.
First we must recognize the phrase “in that day.” While I’ve been reading through Isaiah, I have already written about “in that day” a couple of times – That Day Sin Was Taken Away and That Day: The Preservation of Life and Inheritance. “That day” refers to the day that Jesus Christ was crucified.
Therefore, it is interesting that the phrase “in that day” occurs six times in this passage where Egypt, Assyria, and Israel come together. The number six has several meanings in the Bible. One meaning of the number six is work. The creation account says that God completed his work in six days. Israel was told work six days and the seventh was to be a sabbath. So, we can see the six in that day’s of this passage as Christ’ work on the cross, which freed us from our slavery to the idols and the powers that were in control of the world.
A second meaning of the number six is man. Man was created on the sixth day. So, the six in that day’s of this passage represent Christ’s work for man and in man.
Romans 6:3-6 says, “Do you now know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
Colossians 2:11-12 says, “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
The six in that day’s of Isaiah 19:16-25 are a picture of these two passages from Romans and Colossians. In that day Christ was crucified. This was his work to free man from idolatry and sin. When we are baptized, when we participate in Christ’s crucifixion and death, we die too. We die, not in the sense that we stop breathing, but we die in the sense that our old man, the man of sin, the old self, is crucified, done away with, put off.
What is the result of this baptism into Christ’s death?
We are no longer enslaved to sin. We are raised into the newness of life. We are united with Christ in his resurrection. We are raised from the dead.
In 19:24-26, Isaiah says it this way, “In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.'”
Egypt is really Mizraim, which means double distress or double stronghold. It has the idea of being shut in. Egypt here represents the body. Egypt was the first to hold God’s people in bondage. Prior to the work of Christ, we are hold in bondage by our bodies, the lusts of the flesh. Our flesh rules us.
But, “in that day there will be an altar of the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt.” The altar of the Lord is our heart in the midst of our body. “The Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them.” Or, as Paul says in Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Assyria here represents the mind, will and emotions. Even when God’s people were freed from the bondage of their bodies, there was still the bondage of the mind, the will, and the emotions. Assyria is our reasoning of our minds based on the world and not the Spirit. Therefore, in addition to being delivered from the bondage of our bodies, the lusts of the flesh, we need to be delivered from the bondage of our minds, the lusts of eyes (the eye is symbolic the gateway to the mind in the Bible).
In verse 23, Isaiah says, “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.”
What does that mean?
In that day, when we are crucified with Christ, our mind and our body beging to work together to worship the Lord. Remember in Romans 12:1 Paul said that it was reasonable service to worship the Lord with the sacrifice of our bodies.
But, how are we to do that?
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
But, in that day, there will be a third – Israel. Israel is symbolic of the spirit man. In that day, when the body and mind are freed from the bondage to sin and idolatry, the third part of our being, Israel, the spirit man, truly comes in. Then, the body, mind, and spirit – Egypt, Assyria, and Israel – are working together.
Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless as the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
When Egypt, Assyria, and Israel – the body, mind, and spirit – come together in us through the work of the God of peace, then we have the newness of life, then we have the resurrection of Christ.