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Isaiah 19:18

Small Beginnings

18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction."


"In that day..." During the same period of time about which we have been reading, the day when the Egyptian people would begin to realize that God was controlling their destiny, five cities would be converted.

Scholars have pondered the reason for the number five. Five was a very small number when compared to the many cities of Egypt. Some think that, since five is half of ten (The number of completion), it is symbolic of a large number of Egypt's cities. On the other hand, the number five seems to be symbolic of the beginnings of spiritual warfare. In Numbers 31, God instructed Moses to war against the five Midianite Kings who had sent their women in to seduce the Israelites and lead them into idolatry. Yet, the Moabites, who were also guilty, were spared. When Joshua entered Canaan, he began by defeating five kings of the Amorites. (Joshua 10)

The significance of the number five, therefore, is probably to show us that God would plant a small seed in Egypt and it would grow. "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matthew 13:31-32)

We should never forget the principle of the mustard seed as we attempt to spread the gospel. A small Bible study in your living room with two or three friends could grow into a mighty church; it could result in those friends winning many other souls to Christ; or it might inspire others in your church to begin a similar outreach. It is impossible for us to see the many ways that God uses our small efforts to grow His kingdom.

In Egypt's five cities, the kingdom of God would be firmly planted. They would speak the language (Hebrew: lip) of Canaan, the Holy Land. In other words, they would understand the ideas of redemption, sanctification and other terms that define the way God interacts with His people. This is the language of the church, which the lost souls of this world do not understand.

At one time, "the whole earth was of one language (lip)" (Genesis 11:1), but God changed it and scattered the people. In the last days, we will all speak again with one lip. "For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent." (Zephaniah 3:9)

And, the residents of the five cities would swear their allegiance to the Yahweh of hosts, the sovereign God who commands all things. This is the essence of salvation. They would not only believe in God and fear Him, but they would love him enough to vow their full allegiance to Him. He would be both Savior and Lord.

There are many theories about the phrase "city of destruction," which would become the name of one of the five cities. Space does not allow us to pursue all of them, and the serious student should look them up, because there is not one favored over the other. For our devotional purposes, it is good to understand this to mean that one of the cities would be known for having destroyed all of the idols in order to encourage the worshipping of Yahweh.

The kingdom of God does not only grow from small seeds among the nations. It also grows from small seeds within the hearts of men. You may have received Christ as your Savior, but have not grown much in your relationship with Him. Let this scripture encourage you to begin to serve Him in some small way and watch your work grow. If you are already His servant, don't let yourself become stagnant. Understand that the kingdom is growing as a result of your work, even though you may not see the growth. Stick to it and let God take care of the results.

Before The Throne:

Pray for spiritual growth and maturity. Ask the Lord to help you draw closer to Him in your prayer, Bible study and work. Pray that He will help you to destroy the idols in your life. Ask Him to help you plant mustard seeds all over your community and to allow you the joy of seeing the kingdom grow as a result of them. Pray for spiritual growth and maturity within the congregation of your church and denomination. Pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

For Further Study:

(v.18)
** that day. Isa 2:11; Zec 2:11; ** shall five. Isa 11:11; 27:13; Ps 68:31; ** speak. Zep 3:9; ** language. Ge 11:1; ** and swear. Isa 45:23,24; De 10:20; Ne 10:29; Jer 12:16;

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