These are the “nations chapters.” Isaiah turns from talking to and considering Judah and Jerusalem and addresses the surrounding peoples: Babylon, Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Syria, and Egypt. Largely, these are words of judgment, but toward the end of the section there is an amazing passage: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance’” (19:23-25). Regarding these verses, I have often thought, “These words do not roll easily off our tongues: Egypt my people. Assyria the work of my hands. Along with Israel my inheritance.” I mean, think about it, these are idolatrous nations that have been the mortal enemies of Israel; yet, God’s grace will extend even to these rebellious nations and the enemies of Israel. That’s grace!
What glories were described of old!
What wonders are of Zion told!
Thou city of our God below,
Thy fame shall Tyre and Egypt know.
Egypt and Tyre, and Greek and Jew,
Shall there begin their lives anew;
Angels and men shall join to sing
The hill where living waters spring. –Isaac Watts (1740