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Insight #179 — Comparing Egypt, Edom, and Israel

Why should we believe the Bible more than the Book of Mormon, or the Koran, or “The Origin of Species”? What is the evidence that the Bible is inspired by God?

God Himself offers the challenge: “Present your case,” says the Lord. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob…  “Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods” (Isa. 41:21-23 NKJV). Fulfillment of predictions is proof of divine inspiration. Let’s evaluate some “strong reasons” — predictions in the Bible regarding three ancient Middle East nations: Egypt, Edom, and Israel. No mere man could have predicted the very diverse destinies of these three nations.

1) Ancient Egypt was a fascinating land of splendor, learning, and power. It was “the gift of the Nile” and land of pyramids (the only survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World). The Sphinx, the temples, the tombs, and the mummies excite the imagination. Egypt was a wealthy nation (Moses refused its treasures) and at one time a world power. However, God predicted, “Egypt… shall be the basest of the kingdoms… shall no more rule over the nations” (Ezek. 29:14-15). Egypt has continued to exist, but rather than rule over the nations, it has been ruled over by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabians, Turks, French, and British. Not until the 20th century did Egypt regain independence. Today, 5,000-year-old Egypt survives but is relegated to the class of “developing nations.”

2) Edom was the nation that came from Esau, twin brother of Jacob (Israel). The twins fought in the womb and throughout their history as nations. With such natural defenses as Petra (today a fascinating ruin hewn out of red rock), the Edomites were filled with pride that nobody could conquer them. Nevertheless, God foretold, “there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau” (Obadiah 18). With the captivity of Judah, the Edomites moved into southern Judea, while the Nabataeans took over the former land of Edom. The Edomites’ new territory became known as Idumea (Greek for Edom). In the second century B.C., the High Priest John Hyrcanus subdued the Edomites and compelled them to become Jews. The Herods of the N.T. are the last Idumeans known to us. After the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the Edomites vanish from history.

3) Israel, of course, is the central nation of the Bible. Among the many predictions regarding the destiny of Israel are these words via Moses: “You shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword… the Lord shall scatter you among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other” (Deut. 28:37, 64). The prediction of becoming a “byword” is fascinating. Did you ever hear someone ask, “Did he Egyptian you or Edomite you?” Absurd. But how about, “Did he jew you?” “Yes, he jewed me down.” Disrespectful? Absolutely. I wouldn’t say it, but I’ve heard it, and so has my unabridged dictionary. It gives “jew” in lower case as a verb: “Offensive; to bargain sharply with; beat down in price.” There it is. A byword, exactly as predicted 3,500 years ago. As for being scattered, the Jews do once again have a homeland. However, according to statistics in the 2006 “American Jewish Year Book”: only 40% of Jews live in Israel, another 40% live in the USA, and the remaining 20% are scattered in over 90 nations of the world.

In short: Egypt is today a base nation, Edom is non-existent, and Israel is scattered all over the world. What if Scripture had predicted that the Jews would be non-existent, Edom would be a base nation, and Egyptians would be scattered all over the world? However, that is not what the Bible predicted. The Bible has it right. Three nations. Three destinies. One God who knows the end from the beginning. One Book you can count on.