Welcome to the April 3rd, 2009 edition of Bible in the News. This is Glenn Abel with you. Last week marked the 30th anniversary of the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt. On March 26, 1979, the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty was signed in Washington DC by Egyptian President, Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin. In exchange for peace, the Israeli government gave up the Sinai Peninsula which had been captured during the six-day war of 1967. This week, we are going to spend some time looking at Egypt in Bible Prophecy, and at how those events were seen by Bible Students at that time.
An Army Needs Wages
Back in the time of the Babylonian Empire, Yahweh used the Babylonian army to execute His judgments upon rebellious nations. After the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonians marched on Tyre. The siege of Tyre would last some 13 years! When the Babylonian army defeated Tyre, as part of their “service”, there was a bit of a dilemma. The spoils of war were relatively puny compared with the effort exerted … what would the wages be for their exploits then? We pick up the account in Ezekiel 29:18:
Ezekiel 29:18: “Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head was made bald, and every shoulder was peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:”
Now, the subject of Ezekiel 29 is found in verse 2: “set thy face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophecy against him, and against all Egypt”.
And so, the “wages” for the Babylonian army would be the spoils of Egypt, as we find in verse 19:
Ezekiel 29:19: “Therefore thus saith Adonai Yahweh; Behold, I will give the land of Egypt unto Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall take her multitude, and take her spoil, and take her prey; and it shall be the wages for his army.  I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor wherewith he served against it, because they wrought for me, saith Adonai Yahweh.”
Thus, the Babylonians fulfilled Yahweh’s 40 year judgment against Egypt, which is recorded earlier in Ezekiel 29. God declared to them why this would happen in verse 6-7: “And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am Yahweh, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. When they took hold of thee by thy hand, thou didst break, and rend all their shoulder: and when they leaned upon thee, thou brakest, and madest all their loins to be at a stand.” The details of this judgment are further outlined in Ezekiel 30.
The Basest of the Nations
At the end of 40 years, Egypt would be brought back from captivity, never to become a world superpower again. Verse 14-15 we read:
Ezekiel 29:14-15: “And I will bring again the captivity of Egypt, and will cause them to return into the land of Pathros, into the land of their habitation; and they shall be there a base kingdom.  It shall be the basest of the kingdoms; neither shall it exalt itself any more above the nations: for I will diminish them, that they shall no more rule over the nations.”
Why did Yahweh declare that Egypt would forever be a base nation? We find the reason in Ezekiel 29:16 “And it shall be no more the confidence of the house of Israel, which bringeth their iniquity to remembrance, when they shall look after them: but they shall know that I am Adonai Yahweh.”
Throughout their history, Israel had a tendency to turn to Egypt in dire circumstances, for help. It was Yahweh’s intention, however, for them to turn to Him. He wanted them to trust in Him, and look to Him to deliver them.
After the 40 years were accomplished, Egypt was allowed to return as a nation, but would never again rule over the nations, thus fulfilling the word of Yahweh through his prophet Ezekiel. The Persian, Greek, Roman, and Ottoman powers ensured this was the case.
Fulfilled prophecy gives Bible students conviction that those things yet to come will most certainly be fulfilled as well. Speaking of this, in 1876, Robert Roberts wrote:
“Here is a practical prophecy which I should like to hear any man venture concerning any other power in the world. Who could be sure that Egypt would not re-assert her supremacy, as she came very near doing under Mehemet Ali, 35 years ago?... Here is a declaration that Egypt should be a base kingdom, and it has been a base kingdom since then, a kingdom of no account in the roll of nations. It is now a mere dependency of the tottering Turkish empire”. (From a lecture by Robert Roberts, transcribed in the February 1876 edition of “The Christadelphian” magazine)
At the Time of the End
We have mentioned Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11 many times before on Bible in the News, regarding the events leading up to and surrounding the battle of Armageddon. Both Ezekiel 38 and Daniel 11 (and other prophecies) speak of a Russian confederacy coming against Israel, referred to in Daniel 11 as the “king of the north”. This confederacy is resisted by Great Britain and her allies, referred to as the “king of the south”. Reading from Daniel 11, starting at verse 40:
Daniel 11:40: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.  He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon.”
Notice what we are told about Egypt in verse 42-43:
Daniel 11:42: “He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.  But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.”
So, scriptures clearly indicate that Egypt would be allied with the “king of the south” at the time of the end, for the “king of the north” will seek to avail himself of the “precious things of Egypt”.
And for Israel, it was prophesied in Isaiah 43:3-6: “For I am Yahweh thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.  Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.  Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;  I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth;”
Modern Egypt’s History Expected by Bible Students
On the basis of the prophetic oracles, Bible students expected Britain to be involved in Egyptian affairs.
In 1848, John Thomas wrote the following, in Elpis Israel, concerning Egypt:
“…God, who rules the world, and marks out the bounds of habitation for the nations, will make Britain a gainer by the transaction. He will bring her rulers to see the desirableness of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba, which they will be induced, by the force of circumstances, probably, to take possession of. They will, however, before the battle of Armageddon, be compelled to retreat from Egypt and Ethiopia; for “the king of the north shall stretch forth his hand upon the land of Egypt, which shall not escape;… The possession, or ascendancy of Britain in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Seba, will naturally lead to the colonization of Palestine by the Jews.”
How remarkably accurate this expectation has turned out to be!
For, beginning in 1882, Britain assumed an increasing role in Egyptian affairs, culminating in WWI, when Egypt was declared a protectorate, and the Ottoman Empire dried up, paving the way for Israel’s return to the land (see last week’s Bible in the News). Egyptian independence in 1922 did not end the involvement of Great Britain, for during WWII, Egypt was used as a base for the Allies in the Middle East.
When the Picture Got Cloudy
With the rise of Arab nationalism after WWII, the picture became somewhat cloudy with respect to the nations and their alignments in the Middle East. In the case of Egypt, there appeared to be a stronger alignment between Egypt and the Soviet Union, than with the “king of the south” powers.
Referring to this period, Grahame Pearce wrote in “The Christadelphian” magazine in July 1979:
“After the Second World War, the satisfying and developing picture appeared to fall to pieces. Despite the thrill of the founding of the State of Israel, the rest of the picture largely disappeared… Not surprisingly all sorts of new interpretations of present day prophecy were put forward, on the assumption that the old ideas must be wrong. It was proposed that “the merchants of Tarshish” were Western Europe and Nato, that the “young lions” referred to Jewish villages; much attention was given to Arab nation activity; while for many the whole question of being stimulated by prophecy to watchfulness for the Master’s return was looked at skeptically, and some brethren said it was better to be giving our attention to good works around us – the Lord will come in his own good time…”
Pearce continued, “… Not all the brethren were ready to change their views with the winds of change in the Middle East. How events would come into line again they were not sure, but they were content to wait and see. Their faith in the old pattern of expected events is now being justified.”
Picture Gets Clearer
During the 70’s, however, America took a greater interest in seeing that Egypt and Saudi Arabia were brought within their sphere of influence. As a result, a “King of the South” power was becoming evident to Bible Students. Again, Grahame Pearce: “ If we piece together events into an overall picture, what has happened in the Middle East in the 1970s is indeed thrilling”… “as our map 3 shows, there are clearly shaping two opposing groups of Powers north and south of the land of Israel. And this is what we should expect from Bible prophecy… Jordan and Saudi Arabia are hostile to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, and this has produced strained relations with America. We need not suppose this means they will break away… Nevertheless we can expect setbacks; nearly all forward movements are followed by some adverse reaction”.
Effects of the Israeli-Egyptian Agreement
The effects of the Israeli-Egyptian agreement can be discussed, maybe even debated. However, there is no doubt that the precedent of “land for peace” in 1979 is the reason 30 years later, Israeli governments are put under enormous pressure to offer “land for peace” to the Palestinians and to Syria.
The fact that we can look at the history of Egypt as a base nation, as a fulfillment of the Oracles of God, ought to give us great confidence that what He has promised, He is able also to perform (Rom. 4:21).
As we await the return of our master, the Lord Jesus Christ, we ought not to be concerned when the picture gets cloudy, but rather, hold fast to the more sure word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19), searching “the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11) for, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20).
For “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”. (Revelation 19:10)
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