When we consider international conflicts, it may seem that different nations are simply fighting against each other. Is there a motivator which does not become readily apparent from the statements of the warring parties? Isaiah seems to say exactly that.
Luther, Martin, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, translated by Herbert J.A. Bowman) Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, Lectures on Isaiah Chapters 1-39. St. Louis: Concordia, 1969. Logos Electronic Edition.
“Isaiah Chapter 19” pp. 160-167.
In Isaiah 19 the focus shifts to Egypt, which is going to be judged by God (LW 16, 160). The instrument of judgment is to be Assyria. The reason for the judgment is Egypt’s idolatry. Luther explains the condemnation as follows. “A knowledge of God is implanted in all men, and therefore they think that God is to be worshiped. In this they certainly make no mistake, but they do err in the manner of their worship if they worship Him not simply according to His Word and will but rather according to their own ideas” (LW 16, 160). True godliness can stand up to challenges. However, Egypt will not have the confidence to stand. In verse five and following, Isaiah uses metaphorical language to describe the wealth and power of Egypt drying up as in a drought (LW 16, 161). All the wisdom of Egypt’s rulers cannot escape the oppression of Assyria (v. 11). They have been deceived by their own kind of wisdom, which will lead to no good (LW 16, 162). Luther notes the similarity between the drunken confusion here expressed of Egypt and the instability described elsewhere in Scripture as drunkenness. “In time of disaster the Egyptians will not have a prince or a judge, both in spiritual and in civil affairs. Both government and priesthood will be destroyed for them, both realms will fall into ruin” (LW 16, 163). Verse 17 observes that out of the midst of destruction the Egyptians will remember Judah and the Lord (LW 16, 164). At some point in the future (v. 19) there will be worship established not only in Jerusalem but even in Egypt. Luther goes so far as to assert a future restoration of language, in which all will understand one another (LW 16, 165). Yet the capstone of the promise is a recognition of the true Lord God in Egypt. There will be one unified altar (v. 19), which Luther identifies with Christ. All this comes about through God’s Word. “The Word once given by the Lord must be held fast if trial should come and the situation would appear to be otherwise. Know, Moses says, that “the Lord your God is testing you” (Deut. 13:3). Therefore God wants us to abide by His prior Word” (LW 16, 166). This is a reception of God by faith (LW 16, 167). In verse 22 it becomes clear that God’s blow of judgment is also one which leads to healing. Verses 23-25 show that God’s people, including the Egyptians, will be drawn together into peace and agreement.
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