Before I start, let me preface my comments by saying I don't necessarily believe any of the things mentioned in the Book of Isaiah will come to pass
or that I know if they even theoretically refer to modern events. I don't, and I'm not particularly religious, but the similarities were
interesting enough to compare for two reasons for me.
1) There are a lot of people who take the Bible as literal word, some of whom are policy makers, and so the book is important because
2) whether the prophecies are genuine or being self-fulfilled by those with the capacity to do so, it's worth a look.
I'm being neutral with respect to their veracity, but for the purposes of discussion, I'm simply anticipating consequences if they are true. For
basic background information, I'm primarily using Wikipedia though I checked it against other sources.
While there are also historical examples to which they could and should be applied for comparative purposes, I'm neglecting to do so here because it
is beyond the scope of the inquiry, and frankly, beyond my knowledge. I'm simply seeing how they could be applied to today.
Dated from the 8th Century BC, Isaiah is known both for its prophecies of calamities as well as its prediction for salvation. From what I've read,
the Book of Isaiah is divided into three different parts based on the authorship of the work, with the first 39 books from the primary author
sometimes called Proto-Isaiah. I'm going to focus on that part, and specifically on the most commonly referenced sections with respect to modern
events, in Isaiah 17 and 19. They are part of a section of that book ranging from sections 13-23 that describe a series of events to happen to
nations. Although they are not necessarily chronological, I'm going to write about them that way for simplicity.
Isaiah 17 deals primarily with the destruction of Damascus. Its opening line, "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of
ruins" has been thought by many to indicate a time of the total destruction of that city. But that's only one interpretation.
Delving more deeply into the words, about halfway through the passage, it says "In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the
Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation" which makes me conjure up an image of people
abandoning the cities, perhaps because of war and like refugees who are already fleeing in several directions because of the civil unrest.
After talking a bit about how so many nations are involved, the passage ends with "In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone!
This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us." To me, it conjures up the image of night time air strikes, taken quickly
and without setting foot on the ground.
However you interpret it, the scene it sets is of Syria under siege, and the only question is how terrible the violence conducted against it will
Isaiah 19 describes a time of great unrest in Egypt, which in some ways could relate to the revolutionary situation happening now. I'll use this
longer snippet to illustrate.
“I will stir up Egyptian against Egyptian—
brother will fight against brother,
neighbor against neighbor,
city against city,
kingdom against kingdom.
The Egyptians will lose heart,
and I will bring their plans to nothing;
they will consult the idols and the spirits of the dead,
the mediums and the spiritists.
I will hand the Egyptians over
to the power of a cruel master,
and a fierce king will rule over them,”
Considering that different cities support the different factions looking for control in Egypt, despite the very good intentions of some involved,
it's possible to see the end result being some strong man taking control. While this is the portion of the prophecy many people are looking at, what
made me more interested was what follows near the end of Isaiah 19.
After talking about a series of calamities inflicted upon Egypt, the text says "In that day the Egyptians will become weaklings. They will shudder
with fear at the uplifted hand that the Lord Almighty raises against them. And the land of Judah will bring terror to the Egyptians; everyone to whom
Judah is mentioned will be terrified."
Could that presage a preemptive Israeli strike against Egypt? Such a scenario would have seemed unlikely not too long ago, but with the Muslim
Brotherhood coming to power with Morsi having publicly stated his desire for Jerusalem, maybe Israel strikes first if they see the Army at risk of
But the ending is what interested me most: "The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship
together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying,
“Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance."
In both Isaiah 17 and Isaiah 19, there's the idea that a time of tribulation and wandering from the faith afflicted the people of Egypt and Syria,
but you see the suggestion here at the end of 19 (which is reinforced in later books), that there is a unity of some sort between Egypt, Syria, and
Israel. Although it boggles the mind to think of it, considering that Gaza and the Golan Heights were already added, could the end game of some
conflict see some union on those terms between those areas.
While it sounds absurd on face value, if Syria was to launch against Israel and Israel retaliated, it's easy to see Egypt getting drawn into such a
war now, and should the Israelis be successful in a violent fashion, maybe something could change. I'd be the first to admit it'd take a miracle to
cover the religious differences, but maybe that's doable.
If you're of the mindset as I often am that situations are sometimes engineered to bring about a certain solution, maybe this is where prophecy
matters most. I know here in the United States there are actors who want to precipitate the events they see as leading to the resurrection of the
messiah, and the events of Isaiah are interesting to them. I've read much about it, and from time in politics, met people who express such views.
So if Damascus falls, if Egypt goes to strife, and the war that looks to possibly be on the horizon happens, between the confluence of technology and
prophecy, could people be made to see something miraculous, and maybe the end result be the prediction of a union between the disparate peoples of
Syria, Israel, and Egypt? The idea that one group is going to control that area seems much less far fetched than it did just a year ago, and it's
worth keeping an eye on how current events fit to this very old prophecy.