ISAIAH - Chapter 18 - ETHIOPIA - A SHEEP NATION Print E-mail

ISAIAH – Chapter 18


Tuesday Morning Bible Study

 November 5, 2013, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


Psa. 68:31: “…Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God


Ethiopia is given the honor of being the first Christian nation.


 In Acts 8: 26-40 a Eunuch, a man of Ethiopia of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship.  He was returning and sitting in his chariot reading Isaiah, the prophet.  Then the Spirit said to Philip, go near, and join your self to this chariot.  Philip ran there to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘do you understand what you read’?  The eunuch replied, ‘how can I, except some man guides me?’  He asked Philip to come and sit with him.  The place of the scripture was Isaiah 53:7 of Jesus being led to the slaughter and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened He not His mouth; and in His humiliation His judgment was taken away; and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.  The eunuch believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; stopped the chariot and was baptized by Philip.  When they came up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more.


Eusebius of Caesarea, the first church historian in his “Ecclesiastical History,” further tells of how the eunuch returned to spread the gospel of Christ in his native land shortly after the Resurrection and prior to the arrival of the Apostle Matthew to Ethiopia.


According to church historian Nicephorus, the apostle St. Matthew, preached the Christian Gospel to modern-day Ethiopia (then called Colchis).


Although Christianity existed long before the rule of King Ezana the Great, Christianity took a foot hold when it was declared a state religion in 330 AD.  Today 62.8% of the population of Ethiopia are Christians.


Isaiah 18:1: “Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.


Interpreters are very much at a loss to find “The land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.”  Therefore, I will take my liberty to suggest that this scripture is inclusive of both modern Sudan and Ethiopia; and would have been identified under the reign of King Piankhi and King Taharqa as the Kingdom of Ethiopia.


Sudan adopted the Secretary bird as their national emblem in 1985.

Southern Sudan adopted the African Fish Eagle as their national emblem in 2011.

Egypt has an Eagle as their national emblem.

The Hawk is a national emblem for many Muslim nations.


Ethiopia has 14 major rivers including the Nile.  Modern day Sudan lies north of Ethiopia and south of Egypt.  Unlike Ethiopia, the religion of North Sudan is 96% radical Islam; and has a shameful history of civil wars, and crimes against humanity.  South Sudan is an independent nation and more Christian friendly, but still a very dangerous place for Christians.


This explains this scripture to me though not necessarily to other interpreters:  Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.”


Isaiah 18:2:  (Woe to the land) “that sends ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, go, you swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning presently; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!”


Evidently the Ethiopian king of Egypt, Piankhi, (741-712 B.C.) had sent envoys to the king of Judah, Hezekiah.  We can be certain that their purpose was to involve Judah in a coalition against the Assyrians.  Isaiah warns Hezekiah against any such folly, by providing God’s answer to the ambassadors.  They are to go back home. Ethiopia was renowned for its profusion of insects and also for its tall and warlike people.


For their entire military prowess and their distance from Assyria, the people of Ethiopia are not safe.  God Himself has spoken.  It is a word of doom and destruction.  The self-description of the Lord is striking.  He is the objective onlooker, unaffected by the intrigues and conflicts of men on earth.


Isaiah 18:3-6:  All you inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see you, when He lifts up an ensign on the mountains; and when He blows a trumpet, hear you.  For so the Lord said to me, I will take My rest, and I will consider in My dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.  For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, He shall both cut off the springs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.  They shall be left together to the fowls of the mountains and to the beasts of the earth; and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter upon them.”


Zeph. 3:17: “The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save.  He will rejoice over you with joy.  He will rest in His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.”


“God is resting in the midst of all the turmoil of the inhabitants and dwellers of the earth.  God resting in His love---His love not for un-sinning angels, but for fallen, redeemed man...First God saves!  Then He rejoices!  Then He rests!  Then as if this were not enough, He rejoices over His people “with singing”.  Like an earthly warrior---first, the victory, then the shout of joy; then the calm survey of the field of conquest; then the hymn of triumph.” (John MacDuff – Divine Joy)


The prophet replies that Jehovah will crush the Assyrian in His own time without human help, and that will be a sign to Ethiopia and all the world of His supreme Godhead!


An ensign was a symbol carried on a pole and raised high in the air, much like a flag, to rally a tribe or a group of warriors in battle.  These standards were usually set on a hill and often accompanied by the sound of a trumpet.  “ensign” is from the Hebrew ‘owth’ which means “a signal (literally or figuratively) as a flag, beacon, monument, omen prodigy, evidence mark.


Jesus Christ is Heaven’s ensign.  He is the Deliverer, the victor, the conqueror who overcame sin, sickness, poverty and death.  On Golgotha’s hill, the rallying point of all creation, the sinless Son of God was raised high upon the cross to take away our sin.   He Himself prophesied, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  The blood of the Lamb was a standard that first Passover night in Goshen.  Paul declared that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.  Jesus is the Banner who was displayed because of the truth.  Isaiah prophesied, “In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek and his rest shall be glorious” (Isa. 11:10).


Believers are to proudly uphold the conspicuous blood-stained banner of our Lord.  “…We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).  The prophet assured us that when the enemy shall come in, like a flood the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him (Is. 59:19). 


Zechariah prophesied about the end-time Church, “And the Lord shall save them in that day as the flock of His people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land” (Zech. 9;16).  The apostle Paul affirmed the eternal victory of our glorious Head, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14).


Isa. 18:7: “In that time shall the present be brought to the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning presently; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.”


Verse 7 is addressed to the reader, not to the envoys.  Ultimately the prophet reminds his readers, God intends that even a distant nation as the Ethiopians shall worship, the Lord almighty, bringing their offerings to the Jerusalem temple.  God’s final purposes in history are those of a worshipping people drawn from all nations.


God in the midst of the nations:  He is mighty.  He will save.    


King Taharqa of Ethiopia was also King of Egypt and Kush (Ethiopia), 690-664 BCE, 25th dynasty.  When Taharqa was about 20 years old, he participated in a historic battle with the Assyrian emperor Senn-a-che-rib at Eltekeh.  At Hezekiah’s request, Taharqa and the Egyptian/Kushite army managed to stall the Assyrian advance on Jerusalem.  Sennacherib abandoned the siege and returned home.  Thus, Taharqa saved Jerusalem and Hebrew society from destruction, a pivotal point in world and Hebrew history.


(Isa. 37:9:  And he heard say concerning Tirhakah, King of Ethiopia.  He has come forth to make war with you.  When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah

(Ethiopia means “Kush” (O.T. #3568).


Greatness is attributed to Ethiopia throughout the Scripture.  Moses married Zipporah, from Midian (the Sudan).  Ethiopia was famous for its jewels.  Job 28:19: “The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it (wisdom).  The men of Ethiopia were men of stature (Isa. 45:14).  Ebed melech saved the life of a great prophet (Jer. 38: 6-13).  Zephaniah was the son of Cushi (Zeph. 1:1).  The eunuch was a man “of great authority”.  The psalmist prophesied, “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God” (Ps. 68:31).


The end-time remnant includes Cush (Is. 11:11).


Midian (Sudan) was the son of Abraham by his wife, Katurah.


It shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush…”


God is in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses.  He is as able as He is willing, and as willing as He is able, to save “unto the uttermost.”  The Sun of righteousness has shone upon the dark cloud of sin over a scattered and peeled people, and a people terrible from their beginning, a nation meted out and trodden under foot.  The rays of Jesus Christ, like burning arrows, have dispersed the elements of wrath.  “There is nothing now seen but the bright azure of a radiant heaven; and a voice is heard, amid the glorious sunshine, utter the words, “Return unto Me, for I have redeemed you!”


Micah 7:18:  Who is God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance?”


It seems that Ethiopia will be one of the sheep nations.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.

Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Understanding Types and Shadows by: Kelly Varner; F. F. Bruce Bible Commentary and a quote as indicated by John Ross MacDuff from Divine Joy.

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