With all that has unfolded in Egypt, I was not surprised to hear from ministries that focus on current events and biblical, end-times eschatology. What got my attention, however, was how two very independent ministries from the U.S. and Israel both drew specific focus to Isaiah 19:2-4, implying the passage was experiencing a present-day fulfillment. At first glance, Isaiah’s prophecy seems very appropriate to the current situation. But, as hermeneutic practice dictates, it became very clear that this passage is not necessarily all that it is being promoted to mean in terms of a present fulfillment of an ancient prophecy.
Please understand that I, like all who cherish and uphold the validity of God’s word, want to see it exonerated from the cynicism and critical attacks of contemporary society. Additionally, I believe that Midrashic interpretive methods are valid when used correctly to highlight types, shadows, and multiple fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. So, that brings us back to the Isaiah passage in question. Is Isaiah 19:2-4 being fulfilled before our eyes as some are clearly implying, though perhaps without directly coming out in such a bold declaration?
One of the outstanding features of Isaiah’s prophecy is that it is a tumultuous catena (very similar to current events), resulting in the Egyptians being given into the hands of a cruel taskmaster. Whilst there are differing opinions regarding who this cruel task master refers to — i.e., Psammetichus versus King of Assyria/Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Is 20:4-6; Jer 46:26; and Ezek 29:19) — it is certain that Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled in history. So, does that mean these ministries are in error for pointing to Isaiah’s prophecy? Not necessarily, but time will reveal if it truly falls into a multiple-fulfillment category or not. I am thankful for those ministries who, like the sons of Issachar (1 Chron 12:32) are attempting to be those who are aware of the times and what people should, but it would be beneficial if they would at least highlight the historicity of such prophetic passages in order to present a more balanced, “thought through” approach to the subject and help reduce the opportunities for the cynics and antagonists.