21 May Egypt’s Prophesied Suffering, Glory, Redemption
With the elections taking place in Egypt this week, I think it is good to not only look back at the tidal wave of change that has taken place in Egypt this past year, but also to look forward to what the Bible says about Egypt’s future.
For the past several years, among those who live in, or have a heart for the Middle East, one of the most significant passages that the Lord has highlighted to many is Isaiah 19. This passage, unlike any other in the Bible, describes in great detail, the future sufferings and glories of Egypt in the unfolding of the Lord’s future prophetic calendar.
Since the dawn of “the Islamic awakening” (as it is known widely throughout the Islamic world) or “the Arab Spring” (as it is referred to in the West), another significant passage that many are now studying is Daniel 11. This passage also gives significant insight into what the future holds for the people of Egypt.
Together these two passages paint a picture that the Egyptian people, particularly the Christians – and all who support them – absolutely must pay attention to.
While it seems clear that the Muslim Brotherhood will continue its national rise to power through its newly formed Freedom and Justice Party, or FJP, it is also likely that there will remain a significant power base among the old guard of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, or SCAF. In fact, in the years ahead, according to Isaiah’s prophecy, it appears as though Egypt will experience civil war-like conditions:
“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.” (Isaiah 19:2-3)
In Daniel 11, the prophet follows the transition from the historical Medo-Persian Empire (11:2) to the Alexandrian Greek Empire (11:3), to the death of Alexander in 323 B.C. and the division of his empire among his generals (11:4). The prophecy then goes on to detail the intrigue, conflicts and battles that took place throughout Alexander’s former dominion for roughly the next 150 years (11:5-34). In a broad overview of this period of Greek history in the Middle East, a large portion of Daniel’s prophecy is focused upon the historical conflict between the infamous Antiochus IV Epiphanes (the eighth king of the Seleucid Kingdom in the north) and King Ptolemy VI who ruled over Egypt in the south.
The Seleucid Kingdom in the north included the region of modern-day Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and even Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Ptolemaic Kingdom ruled Egypt and portions of modern day Libya and Sudan.
All scholars also agree that Antiochus IV Epiphanes is perhaps the most significant type of the Antichrist in the whole Bible.
And so, in the later portion of Daniel’s prophecy, the historical events and wars that took place between Antiochus IV in the north and Ptolemy VI in the south, bleed into a powerful end time prophecy concerning the Antichrist (the King of the North) and Egypt (the King of the South).
Some teachers argue that the King of the North is not a reference to the Antichrist, but his enemy. This view however, make little sense, as it turns the flow of the entire chapter on its head, casting Antiochus IV as both a type of the Antichrist and also a type of the Antichrist’s greatest enemy. As such, most responsible interpreters throughout church history have understood the last days’ king of the north to be a reference to the Antichrist. This view was held by the early church theologians such as Hippolytus, Lactantius, Jerome and Theodoret of Cyr as well as many renowned modern commentators such as C.F. Keil, Gleason Archer, G.H. Lang, Edward J. Young, Stephen M. Miller. The view is also supported by many popular prophecy bloggers such as Britt Gillette. In my new book, “Mideast Beast: The Scriptural Case for an Islamic Antichrist,” I examine this often-forgotten prophecy in careful detail, and discuss how it sheds profound light on events to soon come in the Middle East.
Next, Daniel’s prophecy informs us that Egypt will first engage the Antichrist’s northern coalition, resulting in a fierce reprisal and the complete subjugation of Egypt:
At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships … He will extend his power over many countries; Egypt will not escape (Dan 11:40, 42).
We are also told that both Libya and North Sudan will willingly submit to the Antichrist’s forces:
He will gain control of the treasures of gold and silver and all the riches of Egypt, with the Libyans and Nubians in submission (Dan. 11:43).
Finally, in the midst of many ongoing regional skirmishes and wars, the Antichrist will establish the headquarters of his regional authority or “Caliphate” in Jerusalem:
But reports from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in a great rage to destroy and annihilate many. He will pitch his royal tents between the seas at the beautiful holy mountain. Yet he will come to his end, and no one will help him (Dan. 11:44-45).
Like Daniel, Isaiah also described the coming subjugation of Egypt by the Antichrist:
“I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master, and a fierce king will rule over them,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty (Isaiah 19:4).
But despite the sobering and grave warnings of what is coming to Egypt, Isaiah also prophesied concerning a powerful spiritual awakening and prayer movement with many Egyptians turning to the Lord:
The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them (Isaiah 19:22)
As Isaiah’s stunning prophecy concludes, both Egypt and Assyria are seen to be greatly blessed alongside His people Israel in the Messianic Kingdom:
The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance” (Isaiah 19:25)
In the days to come, Egypt will be profoundly sifted. But out of the sifting will emerge a strong people fully committed to Jesus. Understanding these things now, the Church must remember our Egyptian brothers and sisters in prayer. Come Lord Jesus to Egypt!