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 shall be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel shall be the third group with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of Hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”
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 (Gen. 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 this map, showing the habitation of the ethnic Kurdish people, located in present day North Iraq (5 million), Northwest Iran (8 million), Eastern Turkey (18 million) and North Syria (2 million).
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 recognized 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 A.D. 338, 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 Sept. 25, 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.
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 “the work of my hands” in Isaiah 19:25. A different term is used for Egypt, “my people” and for Israel, “my inheritance.” “The work of my hands” 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.