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Isaiah 19:11-15

Princes or Fools

11 Surely the princes of Zoan [are] fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I [am] the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings? 12 Where [are] they? where [are] thy wise [men]? and let them tell thee now, and let them know what the LORD of hosts hath purposed upon 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 hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken [man] staggereth in his vomit. 15 Neither shall there be [any] work for Egypt, which the head or tail, branch or rush, may do.


Political turmoil, a serious natural disaster and, thirdly, the lack of wisdom would combine to make Egypt a very undesirable place to be. A nation can recover from political upheaval, if it has wise counselors to help it restore law and order and to bring credibility back to the government. Likewise, many nations have recovered from natural disasters and have become economically stronger than ever before when they were able to use their resources wisely.

Egypt, on the other hand, was to be led by a band of fools. The princes of Zoan and the counselors of the Pharaoh would be like brutes. Zoan, later called Tanis, was the capital of Egypt at the time. Its princes were there to give wise counsel to the Pharaoh but were nothing more than "yes men," telling the Pharaoh whatever he wanted to hear. They assured him that they were descendants of wise men and of ancient kings but they had no useful advice for him.

Isaiah, therefore, poses the question to the nation. "Where are they?" There would be no wise counsel although there were those who claimed to be wise counselors. Where were they? A truly wise man would know what God had planned for the nation. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, but these people did not know God. They did not recognize His anger, they did not understand His power and sovereignty and they had no hint of what His plans were for their nation.

Noph is believed by most scholars to have been the city of Memphis, another very important city in ancient Egypt. It is mentioned in the thirteenth verse to show the extent of the deception that had taken place. From Zoan to Memphis, the leadership of the tribes (or "castes"), who are called, "the stay," have deceived the nation into believing that she was safe, secure and right in everything that she did.

But, Yahweh had mingled a perverting or distorting spirit into the midst of this nation. It was a spirit that distorted the reality of their situation and caused them to err in all of their decisions. Thus, the nation reeled like a drunkard and convulsed as though vomiting up the sins they had drunk. Neither the head nor the tail, the branch or the rush (See 9:14 for the meaning), were capable of any productive work. Egypt would become a drunken, paralyzed nation.

Egypt's situation should not be so difficult for us to understand. Any nation that is hit with political chaos, anarchy, famine and economic collapse, yet has no effective leadership, would be a terrible place to live. What is often difficult for people to accept is the fact that God is the architect of these things. He has a purpose and a plan for every nation, every leader, and every citizen on the face of this earth. Everything that happens in this world is moving us toward the fulfillment of His purpose.

Wise counsel would understand that "... all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." (Romans 8:28) Wise counsel would lead the people back to God when disasters strike. They would tell them to seek God's purpose for their lives and follow it. Egypt's leaders did not know God's purpose for the nation, because they did not know God.

What is God's purpose for your life? If you know this one simple fact and strive to achieve it, the nation can collapse around you, but you will be fine. Your purpose will not change; God's plan will not change; and you will not be able to fail. If you do not know God's plan for you, begin by obeying Romans 12:1-2. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)

Do this, and He will certainly reveal His plan to you.

Before The Throne:

How will you present yourself to God today? Will you submit yourself to His purpose? Do it in prayer. Ask Him to help you be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Pray that He will keep you from trusting your own foolish wisdom and that He will teach you to turn to Him for all of your decisions. Pray that He would give you the ability to wisely counsel the people around you. Pray for godly leadership in our government and its allies. Pray about the ungodly Muslim threat that now hangs over our nation. Will God use them to punish us the same way He used the Assyrians to punish the ancient world? Our nation is wholly dependent on our prayers today. Please do not neglect to lift us before the Lord.

For Further Study:

(v.11) ** the princes. Isa 29:14; 44:25; Job 5:12,13; 12:17; Ps 33:10; Jer 49:7; Eze 7:26; 1Co 1:19,20; ** Zoan. Isa 30:4; Nu 13:22; Ps 78:12,43; Eze 30:14; ** brutish. Ps 73:22; 92:6; Pr 30:2; Jer 10:14,21; ** I am. Ge 41:38,39; 1Ki 4:30; Ac 7:22;

(v.12) ** where are thy. Isa 5:21; 47:10-13; Jud 9:38; Jer 2:28; 1Co 1:20; ** let them. Isa 40:13,14; 41:22,23; 44:7; Job 11:6,7; Ro 11:33,34;

(v.13) ** princes of Zoan. Ro 1:22; ** Noph. Jer 2:16; 46:14,19; Eze 30:13; ** stay. Nu 24:17; 1Sa 14:38; **marg: Zec 10:4; 1Pe 2:7;

(v.14) ** hath mingled. Isa 29:10,14; 47:10,11; 1Ki 22:20-23; Job 12:16; Eze 14:7-9; 2Th 2:11; ** as a. Isa 28:7,8; 29:9; Job 12:25; Jer 25:15,16,27; 48:26;

(v.15) Isa 9:14,15; Ps 128:2; Pr 14:23; Hab 3:17; Hag 1:11; 1Th 4:11,12;

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