Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Behold, I will punish Amon of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh, and those who trust in him. I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants. Afterwards it will be inhabited, as in the days of old,” says Yahweh.
“But don’t you be afraid, Jacob my servant.
Don’t be dismayed, Israel;
for, behold, I will save you from afar,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob will return,
and will be quiet and at ease.
No one will make him afraid.
Don’t be afraid, O Jacob my servant,” says Yahweh,
“for I am with you;
for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you,
but I will not make a full end of you,
but I will correct you in measure,
and will in no way leave you unpunished.”
One of the interesting things that I see in this passage is that God intended for Egypt to be “inhabited, as in the days of old.” His prophesy against Egypt was not permanent and God makes a small statement about that here. Then, God goes on to reassure His people Israel for the rest of this passage.
There is an interesting contrast between Israel and Egypt, and Babylon. God promises that both Israel and Egypt will rise again, and also says to Israel: “I will make a full end of all the nations where I have driven you.” God says that His punishments against Israel are measured, or have a limit. I think that this spells out the difference between how God disciplines His children and how He disciplines those who aren’t. God’s children will only be punished for a limited period of time. Those who are outside of God’s family will be destroyed forever. This brings up an important question.
What did Israel and Egypt do to deserve to continue to exist? It is obvious that they both were filled with evil. Israel had been sacrificing their own children. Egypt was worshiping everything under the sun and encouraging God’s people to do the same. How is it that they were allowed to continue to exist? Perhaps the easy way to answer this question is to point it at ourselves. Why did God allow you and I to exist as Christians? What did we do to deserve it? I hope that the answer is obvious: we didn’t do anything to deserve it and neither did Israel or Egypt. The reason they were saved is the same reason you and I were saved. God simply decided to do it. When God does things like this, it removes all pride doesn’t it? It also builds a living demonstration of His grace. Both Israel and Egypt stand today as examples of what happens when God decides to save.