Many people today consider the Middle East hopeless darkness! However, Isaiah 19:23-25 speaks of a physical highway, connecting Egypt to Israel to Assyria – three nations worshiping together, a ‘blessing’, dispelling the darkness.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.” – Isaiah 19:23-25
For Israel, God will raise up Egypt and Assyria as a buffer between us and less friendly neighbors!
What Egypt and Israel are is clear! ‘Assyria’ sounds like modern day Syria and so it is easy to conclude the two are the same. However, Syria was only established in the 20th Century, with its capital, Damascus, inside greater Biblical Israel (Genesis 15:18), whose northern border was the Euphrates River.
Assyria was an aggressive ancient empire from Isaiah’s time! The map below shows its larger extent in green and the area in purple its core. So who lives in that area today?
Compare with the map below, showing the habitation of the ethnic Kurdish people, located in present day North Iraq (5 million), North-West Iran (8 million), Eastern Turkey (18 million) and North Syria (2 million):
Map indicating Kurdish populated cities [theKurdishproject.org].
There is clearly a correlation between the geography of ancient Assyria and today’s 30 million plus Kurds, the world’s largest ethnic group without a recognised state. So are there any more indicators which might suggest that the Kurds are the reawakened ‘worshipping’ ‘Assyrians’?
- Physically the Kurds today are notably diverse. The ancient Assyrians relocated huge populations in the territories they conquered, so that their empire could be easily subdued, thus creating a highly mixed up gene pool, which is not ethnically Arab.
- The earliest proselytization of Kurds to Christianity in Kurdish lands is attributed to the Apostle Andrew in the first Century A.D.
- In the year 338 AD, a Kurdish ruler, Tirdad, converted to Christianity.
- Saddam Hussein accused the Kurds (Sunni Muslims) of being non-Muslims and persecuted them to the extent of genocide.
- There is a huge move amongst Kurds to form an independent state. Northern Iraq has its own Kurdish Regional Government. On 25 Sept 2017, they plan a referendum towards total independence from Iraq – ‘Kexit’. This move is strongly and jointly opposed by Turkey and Iran.
- Prominent politicians in Eastern Turkey have also bravely called for a Kurdish independence referendum.
- The Kurds of Northern Iraq have absorbed approaching 1 million Christians from southern Iraq, following increasing persecution and more recently due to ISIS – although persecution remain even there.
- The Kurds do not usually display anti-Semitism and even trade with Israel, especially selling oil. Also, Israel has provided the Kurds with military training, support and humanitarian assistance.
- Messianic Jewish believers from Israel have visited Kurdish believers and have been told that the Kurds hold no hostility towards Israel.
- The Kurdish-Speaking Church of Christ (The Kurdzman Church of Christ) was established in Arbil in 2000, and has branches in Silêmanî and Duhok.
- In recent years some hundreds of Kurds from Muslim background have converted to Christianity.
- The prophet Jonah witnessed the conversion of the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, located in the area of present day Mosul. Could this be a foreshadowing of something greater in these Last Days?
Kurdish historic origins are ambiguous, their territory overlapping that of the ancient Medes and also incorporating that of present day Assyrian Christians. However their current geography, unity and aspirations are clear.
God describes the reawakened end-time Assyria as ‘my handiwork’ in Isaiah 19:25. A different term is used for Egypt, ‘my people’ and for Israel, ‘my inheritance’. Handiwork indicates something created, requiring design, endeavor and a process of formation.
Personally I count myself privileged to have a number of Kurdish friends and await expectantly what God will do among them.