The Ancient Egyptians are not only famous for birthing one of the most enigmatic human civilisations in history, but also for propagating practical polytheism. The level of superstition and polytheistic proclivities resulted in one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world – the Great Pyramid of Giza. This was happening at the time when Egyptian Kingdom had reached highest crescendo. From among a plethora of deities, we find a unique one by the name Isis. Isis was the goddess of magic (probably the Egyptian magicians who tried to compete with Moses had offered sacrifices to her. Nevertheless Isis was squarely humiliated by Yahweh). She was also in charge of fertility and motherhood. The Egyptians could have prayed to her to stop Hebrew women from giving birth (the Hebrew women were popping out children like popcorns and Pharaoh was not excited with this stark reality). The motherhood in Isis could have led the Egyptian princess to have compassion on a Hebrew boy that had been dumped in River Nile. Isis was also in charge of death. As such she must have provoked Pharaoh to pursue and decimate the freed Hebrews. It is ironical that Isis was also the goddess of healing and rebirth. Unfortunately, she failed to heal the Egyptians’ boils that afflicted them when they refused to release the Israelite. What about the firstborns who perished at the night of the Passover, and the soldiers who drowned in the Red Sea? Did they go through a rebirth?
Isis was johnny-come-lately. She could not outsmart Yahweh. No spirit can outmanoeuvre Yahweh. No power of hell can bind what Jesus has already freed. You cannot bind what Jesus has unbound. You cannot snatch anything from the hand of God. He is greater than all. This is the surety we have in Him (John 8:36; John 10:29)
Interestingly the Ancient Egyptians had individual instructional manuals for navigating from the earth to the underworld. The Western scholars called this the Book of the Dead. The Book of the Dead claimed that Isis was a goddess of justice, mercy and righteousness.
Years later we find cults subscribing to Isis and this practice would punctuate the Greco-Roman Empire for along time. Scholars say that it was one of the cults that became a formidable opponent to Christianity. Isis lost it during Moses time but still willed her power hoping to compete with Yeshua. She bit what she could not swallow. Despite this, we still have pockets of Isis adherents among the Wiccan religion. They practice contemporary and ancient witchcraft.
ISIS of the Middle East
The highly esteemed Ancient Egyptian goddess is neither the first nor the last to be known by the name Isis. A new group of marauding cutthroats appeared in the Middle East in the mid of 2000s. The group went through a metamorphosis and finally adopted the name ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). The conglomeration goes with other initials such as Daesh and ISIL. They prefer to be called the Islamic State.
ISIS has been on the rampage in Syria and Iraq, destroying lives and property. They have not spared ancient towns, artefacts and items of historical value. They have proved to be a thorn in the flesh of the UNESCO. This kind of wanton destruction ignited military reactions from concerned parties – Arab countries, Iran, Turkey, Russia, United States and her allies. The kind of military ingenuity and sophistication observed in ISIS has never been witnessed in any other terrorist group.
It was just recently when they had plans to target commercial planes using bombs hidden in laptops. Luckily, the Israeli intelligence had been on their trail and managed to hack into their computer systems. The intelligence gleaned from ISIS computers suggested that they were in the process of using laptops to hide explosives. This information was passed on to the US intelligence. What followed was banning of laptops in commercial planes. Later President Donald Trump shared this classified information with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov resulting in a firestorm. It was uncouth for the US president to share such confidential information with Russia.
In 2014, ISIS dug tunnels under Iraqi’s town of Mosul peradventure to loot valuable ancient items. In the process, they also destroyed the tomb of Biblical Prophet Jonah. They claimed that the tomb was drawing people from true worship into idolatry. Ironically this made it possible for archaeologists to strike a stunning find beneath the tomb.
Early this year, in the month of March, the Daily Telegraph reported that an Iraqi archaeologist by the name Layla Salih found a marble cuneiform inscription of Assyrian King Esarhaddon inside one of the ISIS dug tunnels. The inscription was dated 672 B.C. That is the time when the palace was part of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. It is believed that the palace was built for Assyrian King Sennacherib and expanded by his son Esarhaddon. His grandson King Ashurbanipal renovated it later.
Approximately two and half millennia ago, a great king reigned over Judah in the land of Israel. His name Hezekiah means Yahweh strengthens. Across the River Jordan, reigned another powerful king by the name Sennacherib, King of Assyria.
“Your enemy could be living just across the river.”
Assyria was a superpower. We can see this in the Scripture. Surrounding countries were forced to serve Assyrians and even Hezekiah paid tribute to Sennacherib. Hezekiah gave everything he had until the treasury became empty. Funnily the King of Assyria was not satisfied. It is the same case with the enemy we encounter as Christians. The more we give to him, the more he wants. Satan is never satisfied with our evil ways. The more we perpetuate evil, the more he would want us to continue on that path.
Sennacherib mobilised his forces immediately Hezekiah ran out of goodies for him. He came upon Judah in shock and awe. Sweeping like hurricane, he destroyed the rest of Judah except Jerusalem. However, the city of David was to be ruined in no time. Sennacherib breathed fire and brimstone as threatened to smash the city to smithereens. Chabad tells us that it was a time of Passover. Instead of merrymaking and jubilation, Hezekiah and his people were full of grief and sorrow. They had received an intimidation letter from the Assyrian King. Hezekiah decided to seek divine intervention through prayer.
“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made Heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, Lord, are God.”
2 Kings 19:14-19
God answered this prayer through Prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. The angel of death smote the Assyrians at night. Sennacherib woke up to destroy Jerusalem only to be met with corpses of his fighting men. He was utterly demoralised that he went his way to pray to his god. Chabad tells us that he promised his god a sacrifice of his two sons if the god could restore him back to the prestigious position he enjoyed before he messed with Judah. The sons he was to offer killed him and ran away. The other son Esarhaddon took over.
The threats of life
What kind of threats are you facing in life? Are they greater than Yahweh? Are you under siege?
We take comfort in the fact that the God of the Bible hears and answers prayers. He has the final say. He knows the right time to break the camp of the enemy.
He may not always stop Sennacherib from approaching and making threats, but He will not allow him to enter Jerusalem. Anxiety, grief, fear, blames and counter blames, regrets and sullenness will not force the enemy away. Our praises, prayers and pleas will cause God to send His angel into our situations.