And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother…
The threatened penalty of Egypt as painted by the prophet here will, on examination, be found to be essentially the penalty with which God causes sin to be visited always and everywhere.
I. STRIFE, especially internal strife (ver. 2). The guilty nation will find itself plunged into civil war (Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, America - northern and southern states, etc.), or rent with bitter and vindictive factions; the guilty family will have its domestic harmony destroyed by petty broils and miserable disagreements; the individual soul will be compelled to expend its powers in internal strife - conscience having a long and perhaps desperate struggle with passion; reason, which urges to immediate decision, contending with the evil spirit of procrastination; the will to submit to Divine demands doing stern, protracted battle with a desire to conform to the good pleasure of the unholy and the unwise.
II. DELUSION. (Ver. 3.) As the, Egyptians, paying the penalty of disobedience, were to abandon the counsels of human wisdom for the fancies and fooleries of the juggler, so will men find that sin leads down from the guidance of reason to the dictates of folly and the misleadings of delusion. It is not long before the sinner experiences "the deceitfulness of sin;" before he finds that he does not impose ca other men half so much as he is imposed upon, or as he imposes on himself. He comes to think that utterances which are earthly, or of lower origin than that, are the voices of heaven; he "calls evil good, and good evil;" counsel which he ought to abjure as diabolical, he deems excellent and wise; neglecting truths and principles which would be his salvation, he falls back upon sentiments which lead down, with certain path, to innermost and uttermost ruin.
III. BONDAGE. (Ver. 4.) It is one of the most certain and one of the saddest penalties of sin that the wrong-doer is handed over to the despotism of "a cruel lord." By what truer or more descriptive terms could these enemies of the soul be characterized into whose iron grasp the transgressor falls? Is not the insatiable craving for strong drink or for the hurtful narcotic a "cruel lord?" What but cruel lords are covetousness, ambition, lasciviousness, the voracity or extreme delicacy of those "whose God is their belly" - the passion which demands and will not be denied, which consumes the time, which saps the energy, which steals the manhood that should be devoted to nobler ends, that should be laid on a worthier altar? The victims of vice are "holden with the cords of their sins;" they are "in the hand of a cruel lord," who will make them pay "the uttermost farthing."
IV. SHRINKAGE. (Vers. 5-10.) Egypt should be pitiably reduced; the waters of its life-giving river should be wanting (ver. 5), its vegetation should fade and die (ver. 6), its industries should be stopped (vers. 8, 9), its chief men should be overthrown (ver. 10). All Egyptian life, through its length and breadth, should be struck a ruinous blow, should shrink from fullness and power into feebleness and decline. Under the dominion of sin, human life suffers a ruinous reduction. Made for God, for his likeness, for his fellowship, for his service, for the highest forms of usefulness and the noblest order of enjoyment, we sink into folly, into selfishness, into smallness of aim and littleness of accomplishment; our lives are narrowed, lessened, shriveled. It is the pitiful penalty of departure from God, of withholding our hearts from our Divine Friend. In Christ we realize the fair and blessed opposites of these. In him is
(1) peace (John 14:27; John 16:33; Ephesians 2:14);
(2) enlightenment (1 Corinthians 14:20; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:9); freedom (John 8:32-36; Romans 6:18; Galatians 5:1); enlargement (Matthew 5:45; John 15:14; Romans 8:17; Ephesians 2:6; Revelation 1:6). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.