In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called…
We may glean from these verses -
I. THAT THE BLOWS WHICH WE SURFER IN OUR ORDINARY EXPERIENCE COME FROM THE HAND OF GOD. No doubt the various calamities by which Egypt was afflicted came to her in the ordinary ways, and appeared to her citizens as the result of common causes. They accounted for them by reference to general laws, to visible human powers, to known processes and current events. Yet we know them to have been distinctly and decidedly of God, by whatever instrumentalities they may have been brought about. "The Lord shall smite Egypt" (ver. 22). So now with us; the evils which overtake us - sickness, separation, disappointment, losses, bereavement, etc. - may occur as the result of causes which we can discover and name; nevertheless they may be regarded as visitations, as chastisement, as discipline, from the hand of God.
II. THAT THESE WOUNDS OF GOD'S CAUSING ARE INTENDED BY HIM TO ABOUND UNTO THE HEALTH OF THE WOUNDED SPIRIT. "He shall smite and heal." God's main purpose in smiting was to bring about a far healthier condition than existed before. Afterwards the chastening would "yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness;" and for this end chiefly, if not wholly, it was sent. We are to consider that this is always God's design in sending affliction to his children. He smites that he may heal, and that the new health may be much better than the old - that the blessing gained may greatly outweigh the loss endured (2 Corinthians 4:17). To part with bodily health and to obtain spiritual soundness, to lose material possessions and secure treasures which make "rich toward God," - this is to be enlarged indeed.
III. THAT THE RESTORATION OF THE SMITTEN SPIRIT IS ATTENDED AND FOLLOWED BY VARIOUS BLESSINGS.
1. The soul addressing itself to God in earnest prayer. "They shall cry unto the Lord" (ver. 20); "He shall be entreated of them" (ver. 22). This is an act of returning from folly and forgetfulness unto the God who has been forsaken: "They shall return," etc. (ver. 22; see also ver. 21).
2. The soul seeking God's acceptance in his appointed way. "There shall be an altar to the Lord" (ver. 19). However interpreted, this passage points to the special means appointed by God through Moses for obtaining forgiveness of sin, and suggests to us the one way - repentance and faith - by which we must seek and may find the Divine mercy.
3. Profession of attachment to God. These five cities should "swear to the Lord of hosts" (ver. 18), The pillar at the border would perhaps be an obelisk, making mention of his Name as the One that was worthy of human adoration.
4. The service of the lip. They would "speak the language of Canaan" - the language spoken by the people of God. Language is far from being everything, but it is far from being nothing (Psalm 19:4; Matthew 12:37; Romans 10:10). By truthful, kindly, helpful speech, and in sacred song, we may do much in serving and in pleasing God.
5. Consecration. "They shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and shall perform it;" the solemn presentation of self unto a Divine Savior and a lifelong redemption of the vow. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.