Passover and Exodus themes in Isaiah
When Isaiah's contemporary, the young king Hezekiah (25 years
old), ascended the throne of Judah (c 720 BC), he began to purify the Temple,
which had been defiled and neglected under his forefathers, and to reinstitute
the true worship of the LORD there (2Ki 18:1-7; 2Ch 29). He next invited all
Israel -- including those who were left in the north after the Assyrian invasion
of Israel -- to come to Jerusalem to keep a renewed Passover (2Ch 30). This was
accomplished in the second month (not the first month, as is the regular
requirement) because the cleansing of the Temple and the people was not complete
at the earlier time.
In the 14th year of his reign, when Hezekiah was 39 years old
(2Ki 18:13), Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attacked the Southern Kingdom, Judah.
He captured most of the defensed cities of Judah until, finally, Jerusalem was
the only place of safety left (2Ki 18; 2Ch 32). At the same time ("in those
days": 2Ki 20:1) Hezekiah was struck down with a deadly disease. But through his
faith, and prayers, Hezekiah's life was spared an additional 15 years and his
nation was also saved from the Assyrian threat through the miraculous overthrow
of Sennacherib's army -- 185,000 strong -- by an Angel of the LORD (2Ki 20:1-6;
19:35,36; 2Ch 32:21-23).
There are good reasons to think that both Hezekiah's healing
and the nation's salvation came at the time of the Passover:
"Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves
for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the LORD is coming out of
his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will
disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer"
Deliverance from the Assyrian is plainly described in
"And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts
will rejoice as when people go up with flutes to the mountain of the LORD, to
the Rock of Israel. The LORD will cause men to hear his majestic voice and will
make them see his arm coming down with raging anger and consuming fire, with
cloudburst, thunderstorm and hail. The voice of the LORD will shatter Assyria;
with his scepter he will strike them down"
The Passover was the only "holy festival" in the Jewish
calendar which occurred at night!
"Like birds hovering overhead, the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem; he will
shield it and deliver it, he will 'pass over' it and will rescue it... Assyria
will fall by a sword that is not of man; a sword, not of mortals, will devour
them. They will flee before the sword and their young men will be put to forced
labor. Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at sight of the battle
standard their commanders will panic, declares the LORD, whose fire is in Zion,
whose furnace is in Jerusalem"
In this case, the city of Jerusalem -- rather than the
individual houses of the faithful in Egypt -- became the place of safety,
protected by the "passing over" or hovering Angel of Life.
Many of the prophecies of Isaiah have a dual fulfillment. A
first, or primary, fulfillment always relates to the days of Isaiah himself.
(This was necessary, because it was by some partial fulfillment in his own day
that every prophet of the Lord was confirmed as a true prophet rather than a
false one: Deu 18:20-22). But also, a second, or final, fulfillment relates
usually to the Messiah of whom Hezekiah and Isaiah were "types" -- sometimes to
events of his first coming, sometimes of his second coming, and sometimes to
Therefore, many of the prophecies of Isaiah (and maybe
especially the ones having to do with the Passover and/or the Exodus) can be
read as Last Days prophecies, about a great King (the Messiah, "son" or
descendant of Hezekiah) who saves his nation Israel (ie, the portion thereof
which has faith in him) when they are threatened in the end times by another
"Assyrian" invader (at the time of another Passover?). This point should be kept
in mind in any consideration of Isaiah.
Some Isaiah references
Isa 4:5: "Then the LORD will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who
assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over
all the glory will be a canopy."
The allusion is to the pillar of fire and canopy of cloud in
the wilderness. God protected Jerusalem from Sennacherib's destruction. God will
provide such umbrella protection in the future.
Isa 10:24-27: "Therefore, this is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: 'O my
people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a
rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did. Very soon my anger against you
will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.' The LORD Almighty
will lash them with a whip, as when he struck down Midian at the rock of Oreb;
and he will raise his staff over the waters, as he did in Egypt. In that day
their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck...
In Isaiah's day, Assyria was overthrown like Egypt was, and
the Jewish captives went free. In the future, God will overthrow the Last Day
"Assyrian" and free His people.
Isa 11:15,16: "The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a
scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it
up into seven streams so that men can cross over in sandals. There will be a
highway for the remnant of his people that is left from Assyria, as there was
for Israel when they came up from
Who are the "slaves" who went free in the "exodus" of
Hezekiah's day? Probably some or all of the 200,000 Jews from the Northern
Kingdom who had been carried away captive to Assyria or Babylon (a vassal city
of Assyria at this time) only a few years earlier. Now, out of fear for the God
of Israel who could so easily destroy a great army, Sennacherib releases his new
slaves and sends them back home. Like Pharaoh, he must have said something like:
"Get out; take whatever you want and leave; I never want to see another
And what about the Last Days? A similar deliverance for Jewish
believers from Assyria and Egypt (where they have evidently been carried by the
Arab invaders) is also alluded to in Isa 19:23-25; 27:12,13; 35:1-10; 43:1-7;
52:1-10 -- as well as Jer 3:18; 16:14,15; Joel 3:2-7; Zec 10:9-11; 14:2; and
possibly Rev 13:10 and Rev 16:12 (which appears to quote Isaiah
Isa 19:1,3,5,11,15: "An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift
cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the
hearts of the Egyptians melt within them... The Egyptians will lose heart, and I
will bring their plans to nothing... the waters of the river will dry up, and
the riverbed will be parched and dry... There is nothing Egypt can do -- head or
tail, palm branch or reed."
God fought against the idols of Egypt, and against Egypt's
"foolish counselors". Will there be a Last Days realization of this prophecy, to
match the one in Hezekiah's day?
Isa 19:19-22: "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of
Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. It will be a sign and witness
to the LORD Almighty in the land of Egypt. When they cry out to the LORD because
of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue
them. So the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and in that day they
will acknowledge the LORD... The LORD will strike Egypt with a plague; he will
strike them and heal them. They will turn to the LORD, and he will respond to
their pleas and heal them."
This is Exo 2:23-25 again: God's people, in bitter servitude,
cry out to Him; He hears their cry, and sends a deliverer.
Will some of the Egyptians (and Assyrians) worship God too?
Consider Isaiah 19:23-25, where these erstwhile enemies of God and His people
will be blessed along with Israel. Surely this is a vision never truly realized
in the past. What a wonderful thing it will be -- and soon! -- when it becomes
reality in Christ's Kingdom!
Isa 27:1: "In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword, his fierce, great
and powerful sword, Leviathan the gliding serpent, Leviathan the coiling
serpent; he will slay the monster of the
The two "serpents" are probably the Tigris River (which
"glides" or "flees" or "rushes" -- cp Isa 8:7,8) and the Euphrates River (which
"coils" or "twists") -- hence identifying Assyria/Babylonia (Syria and/or Iraq);
the "monster of the sea" would be the crocodile of the Nile River -- signifying
the power of Egypt. Thus Isa 27:1 is explained by...
Isa 27:12,13: "In that day the LORD will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to
the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be gathered up one by one. And in
that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and
those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy
mountain in Jerusalem."
("Ariel" -- which signifies either "the Lion of God" or "the
Altar of God" -- is evidently a figurative name for Jerusalem.) Here is the
destruction of God's enemies, who disappear like a dream in the night! This
recalls, of course, the night of the first Passover.
Isa 29:7,8: "Then the hordes of all the nations that fight against Ariel, that
attack her and her fortress and besiege her, will be as it is with a dream, with
a vision in the night -- as when a hungry man dreams that he is eating, but he
awakens, and his hunger remains; as when a thirsty man dreams that he is
drinking, but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched. So will it be with
the hordes of all the nations that fight against Mount
Isa 35:1-10: "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will
rejoice and blossom... they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our
God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those
with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come
with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you'... Water will
gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will
become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it
will be for those who walk in that Way... the redeemed will walk there, and the
ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting
joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and
sighing will flee away."
This section is filled with analogies to the Exodus. Israel's
enemies are defeated, and the captives go free, through the desert -- where
water is miraculously furnished to sustain them (cp 41:17,18; 43:19-21;
48:20,21) -- walking in the "way" set out by their God, until they come in
rejoicing to Zion, or Jerusalem. Something very much like this must have
happened to the captives in Assyria and Babylon when they were freed after
Sennacherib's great defeat. Is this a Last Days prophecy also? Surely!
Isa 37:36: "Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and
eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next
morning -- there were all the dead
The enemies of God's people smitten by an Angel of the
Will there yet be a similar defeat of a great occupying army
of Arabs in Israel (Joel 3:11-16; Psa 83:9-18; Oba 1:15-20)?
Isa 51:9,10: "Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD;
awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut
Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through? Was it not you who dried up
the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea
so that the redeemed might cross over?
"Rahab", or "strong one", was a well-known nickname for Egypt.
The "monster" (or "dragon") refers to the crocodile in the Nile, a Biblical
symbol of Egypt. "Cross over" refers to the Red Sea crossing. So Hezekiah's
people were being urged to remember the Exodus. But Last Day Israel will one day
talk about a deliverance which far exceeds that of the Mosaic Exodus:
" 'However, the days are coming,' declares the LORD, 'when men will no longer
say, "As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,"
but they will say, "As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up
out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished
them." For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers'" (Jer
"Everlasting renown"? Is this an Exodus/Passover term? Yes, it
is equivalent to the everlasting, or covenant, Name of God -- Yahweh, or Jehovah
-- revealed to Moses in the burning bush of Sinai (Exo 3:14). The God of Israel
is from everlasting to everlasting; He is the Eternal God, and He vows to make
Himself known to all nations through His people Israel. That purpose is as firm
now as it was in Moses' day, or Isaiah's day, and it will be fulfilled in the
future when God, through His Son, delivers His people (the faithful remnant of
believing Israel) out of Egypt and Assyro-Babylonia once again.
Isa 63:11,12: "Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and
his people -- where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of
his flock? Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them, who sent his glorious
arm of power to be at Moses' right hand, who divided the waters before them, to
gain for himself everlasting renown...
Deliverance at Passover?
Reasons -- valid reasons -- may be produced for reading the
"times" of Dan 12 (and Rev 11 -- 13) as descriptive of a literal period of about
3 1/2 years. The location of the special "feast days" in the Jewish calendar
allows for the possibility that all three termination dates (the 1,260th day,
the 1,290th day, and the 1,335th day) fall on special "holy convocation" days.
This is either a most extraordinary coincidence, or a divine design.
In this scenario, a period of 3 1/2 years could begin with the
Feast of Tabernacles (in the 7th month of the Jewish calendar) and end at
Passover (in the first month). And the final 45 days (during which is
accomplished the last great deliverance of Israel) could begin at that same
Passover (the 1,290th day) and culminate at Pentecost (the 1,335th