Full Episode 020: What Events Lead To The Second Coming Of The Messiah? | Inside The Epicenter
In today´s episode, join Joel Rosenberg to unpack one fascinating prophecy about the Middle East.
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Through the reading of Isaiah, chapter 19, Joel explains the judgment that will happen to Egypt. We will see revolution, spiritual deception, devastation, and he lists some clues of when it will happen through his comments. Also, he explains an exciting issue about the church in the Middle East and why some followers of Jesus don´t study the Old Testament.
This teaching is from October 2019.
- [Announcer] Coming up on this episode of Inside the Epicenter.
- [Joel] Egypt has been overrun, it's been conquered, it's been defeated, it's had troubles of all kinds throughout the last 5,000 years, but it's never had anything quite like this. Turn with me, if you would, to Isaiah Chapter 19. Isaiah Chapter 19. Again, I'll be reading from the New American Standard translation, and we're gonna be looking at what, to me, I think is one of the most fascinating prophecies about the future of the Middle East. It focuses primarily on Egypt, with a twist at the end. One of the things that's interesting about the church in the Middle East, we've discovered it in crisscrossing through the region, over the years, is that many believers in the Arab world, in the Muslim world, many followers of Jesus Christ don't study the Old Testament, and in part, that's because Israel, the word Israel, the story of Israel, so saturates the Old Testament scriptures that because of the wars between Arab nations and Israel over the last 71 years or so, many Christians in these countries don't want to mention the word Israel. Some of them have lost family and friends, and loved ones, in wars with Israel. Some have lost their homes to the Jewish people in those wars, and there's a lot of pain. Isaiah Chapter 19, beginning in verse 1. "The oracle concerning Egypt: Behold the Lord is riding out a swift cloud and He is about to come to Egypt. The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence and the heart of Egyptians will melt within them. 'So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians and they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them, and I will confound their strategy so that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead and to mediums and spiritists. Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master and a mighty king will rule over them,' declares the Lord God of hosts, the God of armies. The waters from the sea will dry up The river will be parched and dry. The canals will emit a stench. The streams of Egypt will thin out and dry up. The reeds and rushes will rot away. The bulrushes by the edge of the Nile and all the sewn fields by the Nile will become dry, be driven away and be no more. And the fishermen will lament, and all those who cast a line into the Nile will mourn, and those who spread nets on the waters will pine away. Moreover, the manufacturers of linen made from combed flax and the weavers of white cloth will be utterly dejected, and the pillars of Egypt will be crushed. All the hired laborers will be grieved in soul. The princes of Zoan are mere fools. The advice of Pharaoh's wisest advisors has become stupid. How can you men say to Pharaoh, 'I am a son of the wise a son of the ancient kings.' Well, then, where are your wise men? Please let them tell you and let them understand what the Lord of hosts, the Lord of armies, has purposed against Egypt. The princes of Zoan have acted foolishly. The princes of Memphis are deluded. Those who are the cornerstone of her tribes have led Egypt astray. The Lord has mixed within her a spirit of distortion They have led Egypt astray in all that it does as a drunken man staggers in his vomit. There will be no work for Egypt which its head or its tail its palm branch or bulrush may do. In that day, the Egyptians will become like women and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of the Lord of hosts, the Lord of armies, which he is going to wave over them." Okay, let's stop there, that's depressing, but we'll get to the rest in a moment, but maybe we should just stop there and unpack this thing. So okay, it's very clear that God's hand is against the people of Egypt. Now, the challenge is to begin to unpack this, and try to figure out when is this going to be. Has this already happened? Is that something that we can check off and move on? No, this has not happened. And in fact, one of the things that's interesting is that there are clues as to when it will happen in the text. We haven't gotten there yet, so I'm just gonna point out six clues that reinforce when this is going to happen. Verse 16, it begins "In that day". Now, in that day is an eschatological term. It means something that will happen in the end of days prior to the coming, or in this case, the Second Coming, of the Messiah, the Second Coming of Christ. In that day. We see it all throughout the scriptures and unless it's specifically referring and precisely referring to something that's not the Second Coming of Christ, it's a term that God uses over and over again through His ancient prophets to refer to the days, the years leading up to the Second Coming of Christ. In that day. Now, if you just see it once, you might think, "Well, let's not overreach, I dunno, maybe..." Verse 16. Well, then again, we have it in verse 18, in that day, verse 19, in that day, verse 21, in that day, verse 23, in that day, verse 24, in that day. If I'm right, and I am, that is an eschatological term that's used countless times. I should actually look it up one day how many dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens and dozens of times that's used to describe, specifically, eschatological events, not events that are about to happen in the prophet's lifetime, not events that are gonna happen in the near term after his lifetime, but long time on from then, leading up to the Second Coming of Christ. If that's the case, then this prophecy is firmly rooted in an event that will happen even future from us, and I believe that is the case, and this has never happened before. This is tremendous devastation. Egypt has been overrun, it's been conquered, it's been defeated, it's had troubles of all kinds throughout the last 5,000 years, but it's never had anything quite like this. Now, we begin in Chapter 19:1, which is very clear. This is an oracle or a prophecy concerning Egypt, so that's pretty straightforward. Those of us who go, "I can't do prophecy, I don't understand it, I don't even know what this is about. Oh, it's an oracle about Egypt. Oh, okay, I get that. That part I can write down." And the Lord front loads the point in the first verse. "Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud, and He's about to come to Egypt." The Lord is coming. He's coming. But before He gets there, lots of bad things are gonna happen. That's the gist of these first 20 verses or so. We can divide it up in sections of the bad things that are coming, of the judgments that are coming to Egypt before the Second Coming of Christ. You can break it down in several categories. The first category is in the first two verses, where we really see revolution and civil war. God says He's going to incite Egyptians against Egyptians, and they're gonna fight each other, brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. This is going to be a series of revolutions and civil wars. So that's gonna be an element to be watching for as we get closer to the return of Christ. The next couple of verses talk about spiritual deception, the confusion that people in Egypt, not understanding all that's going on, are looking for some sort of clarity about their future, and they will resort to idols, not to the Lord. They will look to the ghosts of the dead. They will resort to mediums and spiritists. This is not good, this is spiritual deception, and one of the things that's interesting to me is connecting it to Matthew Chapter 24. Jesus was asked, "What are some of the things that," or actually, what was one thing, one sign, "that will be an indicator before you come back, Lord Jesus?" the disciples asked on the Mount of Olives, and He said, repeatedly, we saw, that spiritual deception will be a major element of life on the globe prior to the return of Christ, and this is God specifying how this level of spiritual distortion and confusion and looking for love in all the wrong places, to cite the old country western song, will be affecting Egypt in particular. Now, in verse 4, it talks about how this confusion, this spiritual deception, is gonna lead people into slavery. Verse 4 says, God says "I". He's taking full responsibility. The Lord is taking full responsibility for what's happening because this is a judgment. "'I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, and a mighty king will rule over them,' declares the Lord God of armies." So one of the things that's interesting about this is we don't know exactly who that king will be. It's not specified, that's just one line, but one speculation that I think is reasonable is that the antichrist is going to be that cruel master, not only over Egypt, of course, but over all countries. We know from Daniel, for example, that the antichrist will invade the beautiful land, and he will seize and control Israel in the last days before the return of Christ, but whether that's the antichrist or not, I lean heavily that this is the antichrist, this cruel master, this mighty king, is gonna seize Egypt. Now, other elements here is dealing with water, that water's gonna dry up, the Nile is gonna dry up, and it sets into motion all kinds of devastation, because the entire country of Egypt is entirely dependent on the water supply of the great Nile River, because there is no other water. It's entirely a desert country, and so without the Nile, there is no life. There is no life in Egypt without water, and there is no water without the Nile, and bad things are coming to the Nile. Now, I would just say, as an aside, that this has never happened. The idea of the Nile, the mighty Nile River, drying up and becoming the... All the devastation that that will bring, that had never happened in human history, and one of the evidences that this prophecy hasn't happened, that it's something that's coming in the future. But I will tell you something very interesting to me, and you may find it interesting, last Wednesday, a week ago, I was in New York, invited by Egyptian President el-Sisi. It was the fourth meeting that I've had with him. It was a group of others as well, about two dozen of us, and we were meeting and having an off-the-record conversation with him about the challenges he's facing and the reforms that he's making, and we were able to ask him 90 minutes' worth of questions, and a number of us had met with him numerous times before, so it was an opportunity to do that. One of the things he talked about, and I can't go into any detail, but he brought up the topic of the Nile River, and how worried he is that the Ethiopians are in the process of building, or planning to build, what they call the Renaissance Dam. Ethiopia wants to capture the mighty Nile and turn it into hydroelectric power. Now, that makes great sense if you're Ethiopian, but if you're planning to dam up the water supply for a country of a hundred million people that live downstream, this could lead to war. That's how serious it is. And the Egyptians feel like they have been negotiating in good faith with the Ethiopians, trying to find a way to figure this thing out together, and the Ethiopians are not being responsive, and this is brewing into a crisis. Now, I don't wanna speculate, or, well, I'll speculate, but I can't draw a conclusion, but this is the first time I've ever heard of an actual scenario in my lifetime in which the Nile could dry up. Now, this could be a supernatural phenomenon, this could be something, God put some plague, I don't know what, it could be just a massive drought all the way deep into Africa. There's lots of ways God can accomplish this. But the good news is the prophecy isn't over, So let's look at the rest. Verse 17, "The land of Judah will become a terror to Egypt." Oh, that doesn't sound so good. Okay, well, we should have added that into the rest. "Everyone to whom it's mentioned will be in dread of it because of the purpose of the Lord of hosts which He is purposing against them. And in that day, five cities in the land of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan and swearing allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One will be called," and in some translations, it's the City of Destruction, in other translations, the actual word is Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. It's translated here as the City of Destruction, but one of the things that's interesting is that City of the Sun, what's known as Heliopolis in Greek, is mentioned here. That's interesting, because until the early 1920s or so, Heliopolis was not a city. It had been destroyed back in ancient times, but a Belgian architect helped the Egyptians back in the '20s, rebuild the city of Heliopolis. It's now a suburb of Cairo, and it's actually where President el-Sisi has his palace. When we met with him the first time, in the palace, we met with him in Heliopolis. When Lynn and I and the boys lived in Egypt for three months, 13, 14 years ago, when I was working on a book, we lived in Heliopolis. It's interesting that Heliopolis shows up in this end times prophecy, and it didn't exist as a modern city until the 1920s.
- [Carl] This is Carl Moeller, Executive Director of The Joshua Fund. Scripture tells us that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Would you take a moment right now to pray for our staff at The Joshua Fund as they work to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus? We're in a battle against the evil one, and your prayers make all the difference.
- [Joel] As you continue through, things get clearer. Those last few verses, little challenging, we could spend time on them, but I'm not going to right now, because I'm not trying to go through an exact word by word, phrase by phrase study at the moment. I'm trying to help you say, "Okay, I don't quite know why are the Egyptians in dread of the people from Judah, and what is going on with... You got these five cities in the land of Egypt, they're speaking in the language of Canaan. I don't understand that." Fine, for the purposes of today, I'm saying, okay, just keep moving, keep moving. You can write down in your column of these are things I don't understand, you can get back to them, but keep moving, because you're gonna get to stuff that's very clear, that's crystal clear, that you can't miss it. So let's get to that. Verse 19, "In that day, there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt and a pillar to the Lord near its border." Okay, so Egypt, if it's sometime in the near future, it's still gonna be largely a Muslim country, and now they're building some sort of alter to the Lord? Well, okay? I'm not sure if I'm getting that. All right, keep going then. Verse 20, "It will become a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt, for they, the Egyptians, will cry to the Lord because of oppressors, and He, the Lord, will send them a savior and a champion, and He, that savior and champion, will deliver them, the Egyptians." Well, now it's becoming clear that Egypt's gonna be a damsel in distress on the railroad tracks. and with a train coming bearing down, and the bad guys all around, but, hey, a savior's coming, not just to Israel, but to Egypt. A champion is coming, not just to Israel, but to Egypt as well. Verse 21, it gets even clearer. "Thus the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day." Could it get any clearer? They will even worship, they'll sacrifice, they'll give offerings, and they will make a vow to the Lord, and perform it. And this next verse is so awesome, it's so clear. "The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing, so they, the Egyptians, will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and He will heal them." Remember, we talked about Matthew 24, and how God allows bad things to happen to individuals, to families, to nations, to shake us, to convince us that whatever we're holding onto other than faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, will not suffice, will not bring peace, will not bring hope, will not bring eternal life. God allows Satan to do his work, to come and attack us. God will allow that, sometimes, sovereignly, to shake us to our core, to cause us to be shaken, so deeply shaken, personally, not to mention nationally shaken, that we will let go of anything, or anyone, or any idea, or any philosophy, any ideology, any theology, other than the Lord Jesus Christ and His word from Genesis to Revelation, to hold onto, to cling to, and what a great day that will be. And I will just note, we'll get to the last three verses in a moment, but I'll just note this is why we need to use time now, when, yes, Egypt is the most reached country of any Arab Muslim country, but it's not nearly enough, and we have an absolute guarantee of success, eternally speaking, so why wouldn't we be investing, knowing there's an absolute certain return on the investment of planting the seeds of the gospel, strengthening the church, caring for, loving everybody in this country, from the poorest of the poor to the most powerful man in the country. How could we not wanna be investing in a surefire, 100% guarantee that the Lord Himself is gonna reveal the identity of His son, and He's gonna rescue this country. Now, it's gonna come late. We don't know how late in the tribulation it will come, but I believe this is all happening during the tribulation. Is it possible that some of the elements have started already, or that we're heading into them? Yeah, that's possible. We've seen revolutions and near civil war in recent years. Is that just early birth pangs, or are more coming? I can't tell you exactly. I can tell you now is the time to be investing in the kingdom work in Egypt, and that's one of the reasons we do it, and there's a great day coming. Let's read about it even more. Verse 23, "In that day, there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt, and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians." Now, what is Assyria? We haven't talked much about Assyria in modern times because it was an empire in the Middle East that was destroyed, okay, but Assyria, the center of Assyria is Syria, okay, and the Assyrian Empire spread out into Iraq, and Jordan, and Lebanon, so it's possible that what he's saying, we can't say it precisely, but I think it's reasonable to think that God is not only going to save Egypt, but He's gonna save many people in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq, that's the footprint of the ancient Assyrian Empire. And so many people will be coming to faith in Jesus then that there'll be a road back and forth where Egyptian believers will be streaming to Assyria, and Assyrian believers will be coming to Egypt to worship together. And not just them. But wait, there's more. Verse 24, "In that day, Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, 'Blessed is Egypt, My people, and Assyria, the work of My hands, and Israel, My inheritance.'" The Lord is telling us this is a prophecy. The Lord is telling us that God is going to so supernaturally move His spirit that Egyptians are going to have their eyes opened and realize that Jesus is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, and the one true savior, and people throughout the ancient Assyrian lands, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, are gonna come into faith in Jesus Christ, and they are going to connect with followers of Jesus from Israel, and Israel's gonna be a blessing. They're all gonna be a blessing in the midst of the earth, in the epicenter. This has got the Joshua Fund written all over it. that we love this verse. If I could do a cartwheel, I would do it right now. If I could do a back flip, I would do it right now. This excites us because it's sure, it's certain. And the sad thing to me is I know very senior Egyptian Christians who do not believe this is a future promise for them, and it grieves me. I mean, I still love them, I'm not gonna get in a big argument with them, but I'm astonished by dear friends who do not believe this has any relevance to their future. But it does. As I was saying to a sister earlier today, we were chatting, and she said, "You pre-trib, pre-mil, post this, post..." and I said, "Oh, I'm pre-trib, oh, absolutely." And she said, "You really believe the rapture is coming before all these other horrific events?" "Absolutely!" "Eh..." I say, "It's okay. you'll be raptured too. You don't have to believe that, as long as... I know you love Jesus, and that you're gonna get raptured even if you don't understand that, that's fine, but it would be better if you did understand it, and that's why I would encourage you." The Egyptians are gonna be blessed, even though they don't get this. And by the way, the Egyptian Christians who don't currently understand, okay, why should I get in a fight with them over it? Why break fellowship over eschatology? They're not gonna be there when these things happen any more than I will be. We'll already have been raptured out. God will be doing this after, in my view, it'd be after this. But shouldn't we be strengthening the work of the Egyptian Christians, right now, to plant the seed of the word of the gospel all the way through Egypt, satellite television, radio, the internet? And the main thing is, and I'll just wrap on this thought, there are a lot of ministries operating in Egypt, and it's a huge country, and it's far more than we have the manpower or the financial resources to reach, but one of the things that's so important is to strengthen and train Muslims who come out of Islam, come to faith in Christ. Very seldom can they enter the regular Egyptian Coptic Orthodox or Protestant Evangelical churches. They tend not to feel comfortable there, they're not sure how to operate there, so often, they have to have a small house churches because it's dangerous, even in a relatively free country. Egypt's getting better, they've got a long way to go, but to be a Muslim convert is a very sensitive issue in all the Muslim world, and certainly in Egypt, where they've had a history, in recent years, of problems. Things are getting better, things are getting better for Christians, but it's a long, long way to go. And I just wanna say that one of the things we do is work specifically with training Muslim converts to become house church pastors, to help them understand how to make disciples of other Muslims, because those 15 to 17 million followers of Christ in Egypt, most of them are from a Christian background. Mark, from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Mark, he went to Alexandria and he preached the gospel and helped establish the church in Egypt in the first century, and so there's a long and rich tradition of gospel preaching and teaching in Egypt, but that means there's a long history of people who already believe in Jesus and aren't coming from a Muslim background. Muslim converts to Christ is much more recent, and it's growing, and there's openness, and that's exciting, and we believe that's an area where we can uniquely provide assistance. So I wanted you to have a chance to get an overview of Isaiah 19. It's a passage that we love very dearly, that motivates us, and I hope it will motivate you as well. Perhaps you're already well versed on it, perhaps you've never really studied it, but you sort of skipped over it and kept moving. I understand. But now I hope you'll spend more time on it and that you will ask, "All right, Lord, in light of what's coming, both the bad and the good, how ought I live in light of those things.
- [Announcer] This has been a production of the Joshua Fund, whose mission is to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus.