ISIS are determined to build an Islamic Caliphate in the Levant area, including Israel. But God has other plans. Isaiah 19 speaks of a future of connection between three key nations in the Levant: Egypt, Assyria and Israel, worshiping together. It’s hard to know how that prophecy will take place, and for many it seems like a fantasy. Canon Andrew White, the famous Vicar of Baghdad, explains that Nineveh is the central place for the Christian community, and Iraqi believers are in great distress and desperate straits. But recently he met in Jerusalem with believers from all around the Middle East for a conference that looked ahead to the prophecy in Isaiah 19 about God’s highway from Egypt to the ancient area of Assyria, which includes present day Iraq:
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into 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.” (Isaiah 19:23-24)
It’s almost as if there are two opposite plans for the Levant; the Highway of Holiness that will prove to be a blessing for the whole world when God establishes his worship, uniting believers in the area in himself, and on the other extreme a causeway of terror and carnage under radical Islam.
The “At the Crossroads” conference is organised by CMJ and included delegates from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, Cyprus, Armenia and Turkey. As one of the organisers said, “It is all too easy for Christians in the Middle East to become ghettoized due to their minority status and the many ethnic and political divisions. Consequently we often fail to see how God is working in our midst.” But God is certainly at work, even though Satan may rage against Him.
The conference delegates agreed upon the following points:
- To rise above ethnic, political, and theological differences in the Body of Messiah, and to work together in expanding the Kingdom of God in our region.
- To proclaim that “Egypt my people, Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance” will indeed become a blessing in the midst of the earth
- To commit to work and pray for the blessing and salvation of all the peoples of the Middle East.
- To mobilize people to go and make disciples as a practical expression of the Kingdom of God, recognizing that we now have a window of opportunity that may not remain open in the future.
- To advocate and allocate resources for justice, helping the poor and mitigating persecution of Christians.
- To establish a network of communication and intercession throughout the region and to meet together on a regular basis as a means of expressing the “one new man.” (Eph.2:15)
“We were expecting to meet [only] Christians who had become believers from Muslim backgrounds, but what we found was a gathering of Jews, Arabs and Christians emphasizing the ministry being done by Muslim background believers to reach their own Muslim people in some of the most dangerous and Gospel-resistant countries of the world: Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iran and Algeria…
If we have one enduring observation from the conference, it is the unanimity with which the Isaiah “highway” passage was embraced by conference participants and speakers. Given that most attendees were former Muslims and that many were Arabs, it was amazing to hear this passage quoted over and over again. “On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyria will come to Egypt and Egypt to Assyria, and Egypt will worship with Assyria. On that day Israel will be a third partner with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing here on earth.”