Having first established—by analyzing the Book of Isaiah’s internal literary features—that “all things that he spake have been [in ancient times] and shall be [in the end-time]” (3 Nephi 23:3; cf. Ecclesiastes 1:9), we learn that Egypt, the great superpower of Isaiah’s day, forms a type of America, the great superpower of our day. But in Isaiah’s depiction of “Egypt”—a codename for America—that illustrious nation is coming under God’s judgment for having turned idolatrous. Egypt has begun suffering an irreversible series of setbacks.
Its political leaders think they are wiser than its founding fathers: “The ministers of Zoan [the political capital] are utter fools; the wisest of Pharaoh’s advisers give absurd counsel. How can you say to Pharaoh [the president], We ourselves are as wise as the first rulers? Where are your wise men indeed? Let them please tell you, if they can discern it, what Jehovah of Hosts has in mind for Egypt!” (Isaiah 19:11–12). These godless rulers are so out of touch with the true God that they are incapable of foreseeing their own self-destruction:
“The ministers of Zoan have been foolish, the officials of Noph deluded; the heads of state have led Egypt astray. Jehovah has permeated them with a spirit of confusion; they have misled Egypt in all that it does, causing it to stagger like a drunkard into his vomit. And there shall be nothing the Egyptians can do about it, neither head nor tail, palm top or reed” (Isaiah 19:13–15). The “head” or leadership and “tail” or lowlifes, the “palm top” or elites and “reed” or masses—all experience public embarrassment and a worldwide disgrace.
Word links and drunkenness imagery connect Egypt’s political leaders to Ephraim’s ecclesiastical leaders: “Woe to the garlands of glory of the drunkards of Ephraim! Their crowning splendor has become as fading wreaths on the heads of the opulent overcome with wine. My Lord has in store one mighty and strong: as a ravaging hailstorm sweeping down, or like an inundating deluge of mighty waters, he will hurl them to the ground by his hand. The proud garlands of the drunkards of Ephraim shall be trodden underfoot” (Isaiah 28:1–3);
“These too have indulged in wine and are giddy with strong drink: priests and prophets have gone astray through liquor. They are intoxicated with wine and stagger because of strong drink; they err as seers, they blunder in their decisions. For all tables are filled with vomit; no spot is without excrement” (Isaiah 28:7–8). Ephraim’s origins in Egypt—which parallels Ephraim in today’s “Egypt”—permeates the end-time fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies concerning Egypt. When law and order finally break down, Egypt spirals into anarchy:
“I will stir up the Egyptians against the Egyptians; they will fight brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor, city against city and state against state. . . . Then will I deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master; a harsh ruler will subject them” (Isaiah 19:2, 4). In the end, Egypt and the rest the world suffer what can only compare to a nuclear war: “When Jehovah enters Egypt riding on swift clouds, the idols of Egypt will rock at his presence and the Egyptians’ hearts melt within them” (Isaiah 19:1; cf. 9:18–19; 33:11–14).
Saving the day are covenanters in “Egypt” whom God sends a deliverer: “When they cry out to Jehovah because of the oppressors, he will send them a savior, who will take up their cause and deliver them. Jehovah will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day. They will worship by sacrifice and offerings, and make vows to Jehovah and fulfill them. Jehovah will smite Egypt, and by smiting heal it: they will turn back to Jehovah, and he will respond to their pleas and heal them” (Isaiah 19:20–22).