In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria…
This was the glorious vision of the statesman prophet, a new world arising out of the confusions and struggles of the old, a redeemed humanity, of which these now extinct peoples are the symbol, united by the benediction of God.
I. WE MUST NOT READ INTO THESE WORDS ANY COMPROMISE WITH THE RELIGION OF EGYPT AND ASSYRIA. He did not mean that the faith of Israel was the third with the faiths of the Nile and the Euphrates. Perhaps the most insidious foe of the missionary spirit is the suggestion that Christianity is only one among many religions and rival creeds. It is contradicted by all the facts of Scripture and of human experience. The study of comparative religion so far from blinding us to the gleams of truth and the broken lights of heathenism, enables us to feel more deeply how faint and broken they are. The stars are invisible to us in the glory of the noon. Yet if we .descend into some deep pit we lose the daylight and we see the stars. So in all ages some elect souls, sunk in the deep and horrible pit of heathenism, have seen shining far above them the pure, peaceful stars of God. Their faint light has not been enough to live by, not enough for guidance or hope, only enough to reach the remoteness of heaven and God, enough for aspiration and to keep alive the great questions of human existence and destiny. Some of our modern teachers have gone down into the deep pit, and they have forgotten that they themselves are the children of the day. We solemnly deny that any religion is suited to any people, either East or West, which cannot give cleansing to the conscience, or power to the will, or peace to the heart, which is silent where it should speak most clearly, which can cast no light beyond the grave, which does not honour womanhood and protect childhood. Heathenism is man seeking God. The Gospel is God coming down to seek man. In its essence the Gospel is unchangeable, yet there is much in our religion which is capable of adaptation to the conditions, tastes, and temperaments of different races.
II. We see in our text THE WIPING OUT OF NATIONAL PREJUDICES AND RACIAL ANIMOSITIES IN A COMMON SALVATION. Egypt was the ancient foe and oppressor of Israel. The pages of Isaiah are full of warnings against the broken reed of Egypt. The prophet saw the gathering storm and knew that Assyria should scatter the nation and destroy the city and the temple. Yet he spoke of both as resting with Israel under the blessing of God. But, more than that, the known world of Isaiah's day was bounded on the west by Egypt and on the east by Assyria. They stand for the world, because they were then the confines of the world. Six centuries later the world of St. Paul was larger still Our world is the whole world, but it has not outgrown the love or the promise or the duty. This larger outlook rests upon three chief grounds.
1. The brotherhood of man.
2. All the great redemptive facts are toy humanity.
3. The purposes of God are for mankind.
III. It only remains to ask whether this promise of a redeemed humanity is only a dream, and a glowing but unsubstantial vision, or IS IT A DIVINE REALITY? If it rested upon an obscure word in an ancient prophecy we might fear to press it. But it is the burden of Scripture. It was the vision of Christ as He rejoiced in spirit and cried, "And if I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me." But it is the method of God to use human instruments. He accepts the tribute of His people's love, and He makes the wrath of man to praise Him.
(J. H. Shakespeare, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.