“In that day”
Five times we find this phrase in today’s chapter in Isaiah (19); each of them has either a latter day or an even later application. They are quite specific; there is nothing vague about them. In Isaiah’s time Egypt was still a major power and was contending with Assyria for influence and control in the world, but long before the time of Christ it had become a minor power, its glory had faded.
Egypt’s collapse became complete when it was overrun by the Moslems in the seventh century AD. We noted verse 4 where we read, “and I will give over the Egyptians into the hand of a hard master”. Then in verses 16,17 we encounter the first of the “in that day” passages. This has been fulfilled in my lifetime! We read “In that day the Egyptians will be like women and tremble with fear before the hand that the LORD of hosts shakes over them. And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians …” Never before have the Egyptians been afraid of the Jews! This was especially evident in 1967.
But how remarkable is the next “in that day” (verse 18)! It looks into the future, it is about “five cities in the land of Egypt that … swear allegiance to the LORD of hosts” – time alone will reveal exactly how that applies. “In that day” (verse 19) there will be a place of worship, “an altar to the LORD” in Egypt. The vision is expanded, “the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD” (verse 22).
The fourth occurrence of “in that day” tells us there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria (Assyria’s area today comprises Iraq and western Iran) and, the highway will be a factor so that both nations “will worship” (verse 23). This is clearly a scene of the world wide kingdom of God when it is established with its capital in Jerusalem, as we read in Isaiah 2:1-4. The final verse is a fascinating climax, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance”. Can we imagine this? This is surely picturing the resurrected God fearing peoples of these nations, which would include Nebuchadnezzar in view of what we read of his words in Daniel 4:1-3,34-37.
This will be a time when the “Blessed” of whom Jesus spoke will indeed experience a time of endless wonder– “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:5,6). May we develop such a “hunger” and relationship with God now, that we will experience the wonder of life on earth “in that day”.