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Isaiah 19:16-17

Stand in Awe

16 In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it. 17 And the land of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt, every one that maketh mention thereof shall be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts, which he hath determined against it.

Verses 16 and 17 stand as a bridge between the judgments that fall upon Egypt as God rides in upon the clouds and the blessings that result from those judgments. Thus, the passage cannot be entirely separated from what has come before or what follows.

"In that day." refers to the time when Egypt will experience the judgments that have been prophesied in the first part of this chapter. The problem with the whole chapter is that it does not tell us how or when these judgments would come, so it would be purely speculative to apply them to any specific events.

The one thing that is made certain from this passage is that Egypt would somehow recognize that the hand of God was the cause of their problems, although their understanding of this might be far from perfect. As God waved His hand over Egypt, it would become like a nation of frightened women. The Hebrew text uses a noticeable assonance to emphasize the fear. The words "afraid" and "fear" are translated from "charad" and "pachad." Egypt would "shudder with terror" and "stand in awe" because God was shaking His hand over the nation.

"And the land (soil) of Judah shall be a terror unto Egypt." There may be a reminder in this phrase of the time of the exodus and the destruction of the Egyptian army at the Red Sea. There was no mistake that the hand of God was involved in getting Israel to the land of promise. Since that time, Egypt had waged war against Israel and invaded their sovereign soil on several occasions.

Now, the very mention of the name of Judah would strike fear into the hearts of the Egyptian people. But, what role does Judah play in the problems and fears of the Egyptians? At the time that this was written, Judah and Egypt were allies, and Judah did not have the military might to be a threat against Egypt.

Some scholars believe that the thought of what Sennacherib had done to Judah was the cause of the Egyptians' fear. Sennacherib had destroyed most of the cities in Judah and it was no secret that he wanted to conquer Egypt. Others believe that this refers to the destruction of Sennacherib's army by the angel of the Lord outside of Jerusalem.

Whatever the circumstances, Egypt would recognize that it was Yahweh whose sovereign hand was causing her problems and striking fear into the hearts of her citizens. This is the first step to her redemption and the blessings that would follow.

The recognition that there is a sovereign God who is in control of our circumstances must be the first step to any man's salvation. Until that occurs, there can be no admission of sins, no visible need for a Savior, no repentance and no submission to the Savior.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Blessings will always follow after wisdom, because wisdom guides us to make the right decision between life and death. Which one have you chosen?

Before The Throne:

Praise God for His awesome power. Praise Him for His judgments and for His blessings. Praise Him for the Son whom he sent to die for you. Use this prayer time to stand in awe of your sovereign Lord. Use it to submit yourself totally to Him. Make a sacrifice of those things that keep you from doing His works. Pray that He will joyfully accept your sacrifice of praise and worship and that the meditations of your heart would please Him.

For Further Study:

(v.16) ** like. Isa 30:17; Ps 48:6; Jer 30:5-7; 50:37; 51:30; Na 3:13; ** the shaking. Isa 10:32; 11:15; 30:30-32; Zec 2:9;

(v.17) ** the land. Isa 36:1; Jer 25:19,27-31; 43:8-13; 44:28-30; Eze 29:6,7; ** because. Isa 14:24,26,27; 20:2-5; 46:10,11; Da 4:35;


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