Ever read something you know you disagree with but still can’t help but admire the actual argument presented? That’s how I felt about Robin Parry’s presentation in the second edition of Four Views on Hell. Parry is an editor with Wipf & Stock Publishers (who published both Rethinking Books through their subsidiaries Cascade and Pickwick), and a friend of the Rethinking Hell project. Like John Stackhouse, he’s appeared twice on the podcast (here and the second as part of our series with Chris Date and the contributors to Four Views) and he was one of the plenary speakers at the second Rethinking Hell conference at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena in 2015 (that lecture is available on the conference DVD set). But of the four presentations in Four Views, I am inclined to say that Parry’s is the best in the sense of a well argued, compelling case. This isn’t to say I think he’s right, but simply that of the four authors, Parry has plead his case for universal reconciliation better than the other authors did for their views.
Universal reconciliation, or apokatastasis, is the often maligned (at least in evangelical circles) view that God can and will ultimately restore all people to himself. Whether or not one receives the Gospel prior to their death, God will, through Christ, win a total victory over sin and death. Those who persist until death in rejecting Christ may have to experience a time of corrective and redemptive punishment (as opposed to retributive punishment which is typically in view in most presentations of eternal torment and annihilationism) so as to be brought to proper repentance and sin might be purged and destroyed.
Parry differentiates from many forms of universalism. He makes clear that apokatastasis does not take sin lightly, and that properly understood, his position does is not an “all roads lead to God” argument. Instead, Parry is arguing for a specifically Christian hope- that all things are reconciled because Christ’s victory is complete. So while he acknowledges that his view “is a minority voice within the church… it is not some new-fangled liberal theology.” (101) The central question as he reads the overarching narrative of Scripture and the future hope it points to is “Will God’s desire to save all people be satisfied or eternally frustrated? Will the cross save all those for whom Christ died, or will his death have been in vain for some people?” (108) And this is of course a valid question. If some (perhaps even the significant majority) of human beings die having either not heard or having not accepted the gift offered through Jesus Christ, does this not mean Christ’s death for all has not won a victory for all? Does this not mean God has proven unwilling or unable to save all as he desires (, )? The advocates of eternal torment and conditional immortality will have to grapple with this. Will God not get what he desires? In some sense, I have to concede he won’t. But we’ll leave that aside for a moment as we assess Parry’s argument.
Parry begins by asserting that, although a minority position, there is an established historical tradition of apokatastasis in Christian theology. He cites a long list of theologians who did (or who least may have) held to universal reconciliation. Most would certainly concede Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, and admit a strong probability that Clement of Alexandria, Maximus the Confessor, Isaac of Nineveh, Evagrius Pontocus, and Theodore of Mopsuestia held this view (though the orthodoxy of the latter two is highly suspect, and Theodore was anathematized at the very controversial 5th ecumencial council). But Parry adds other possible universalists, some of whom I would say Parry would have a tough time proving, most notably Athanasius (who was probably a conditionalist). But his assertion that apokatastasis has a historical basis is clearly reasonable and hard to refute, since many of these universalists are held in high regard and recognized as pillars of orthodoxy. So, dismissing universalism out of hand is simply to ignore the historical evidence. Whether we want to admit it or not, the fact remains that universalists have a place at the table, and ought to be treated as equally orthodox brothers and sisters. Robin Parry himself, and Brad Jersak have been friends of Rethinking Hell, and we are happy to count them as such. We obviously interpret Scripture differently, but we recognize that apokatastasis as it is argued by Parry is an evangelical option.
This of course brings us to the most important issue here; it is often assumed that universalism must be argued in opposition to the text of Scripture, not from it, and thus, if evangelicals trust the authority of Scripture, universalism cannot properly be considered compatible with evangelicalism. But, as one reads Parry’s chapter, one can’t help but be impressed with the extent to which he commits to faithful exegesis of the biblical text rather than dodging it. The challenge then for evangelicals who disagree is to actually engage with the argument to evaluate the actual exegesis.
Parry’s approach is to take the broad sweep of the metanarrative of Scripture and try to establish a telos, or end to which it is moving. Here, Parry follows the common creation, fall, redemption, consummation model, and uses as an interpretive lens concluding that all things are from him (creation), but the fall “makes it impossible for us to reach our destination. Instead we spiral away from God, the source of life, into corruption, decay, and death.” (105) But all things are for him and through him, so God begins the process of redeeming all things, and, argues Parry, since all things are to him, the redemption project will result in all things reaching their telos, their destination or end, which is God, because the “telos of human creatures is, in community, to be filled with God and to image God in the world.” (105) This was the intent of creation, and if God’s purpose and desire is to be met, all things must brought to their designed telos, and “God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” ().
Parry focuses in on several New Testament texts which seem to imply that God’s design and desire is to justify and reconcile all people through Christ, and that Christ’s death is for all. He cites passages like , , , , & 12:32, , , , . He argues that Christ’s death and resurrection are framed as being for all of humanity, and God’s desire in the incarnation, death, and resurrection is to redeem all (noting Athanasius and Gregory Nanzianzen who argue that the Word takes on the fullness of human nature to redeem all of human nature, and all of humanity; see pg. 107).
In this, says Parry, we see God’s story setting out a trajectory; the salvation of the cosmos which he created good and created with a purpose, a telos. The biblical story is then the story of God, in the end, fulfilling the original intent for creation which got derailed by the fall. Parry notes the common objection that universalism has diminished view of the severity of sin, which, in my opinion, even in his brevity, Parry capably rebuts, saying that the whole point of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus shows that yes sin is severe—so severe that God has to personally enter human history to resolve—but that sin cannot thwart God’s purposes.
“Every doctrine of hell implies a doctrine of God, and every doctrine of God will shape one’s theology of hell” (112). I think all of the contributors can agree with this, as would I. I have serious objections to the doctrine of God which emerges from Burk’s chapter, and even some real struggles with Stackhouse’s. I actually think Parry gives much to commend in his comments regarding hell and the doctrine of God (112-113). Of course, as I noted in my response to Stackhouse, our formulation of assertions regarding hell must rest first and foremost on Scriptural exegesis, but how our conclusions on that fit together with out other assertions matters. Some interaction with the character of God after working through Scripture is preferred over the other way around—trying to fit Scripture into one’s view of God. Although notably brief, I think Parry’s insistence on God’s essential goodness, love, and mercy is well put. That said, his affirmation of God’s goodness does not fit exclusively with universal reconciliation, in my opinion. I would point out that many conditionalists have argued passionately for God’s inherently loving nature. In fact, in the first edition of Four Views on Hell, conditionalist Clark Pinnock wrote a passionate essay that was heavily criticized for being sentimentally driven, which absolutely emphasized a doctrine of God similar to that which we see in Parry.1 It is, I believe, mistaken to argue that “a theology of hell in which it can be seen as a manifestation of divine goodness: of loving justice, and of just love” (113) is only found in universalism. I would certainly reject Burk’s assertion in his response to Parry that God’s justice demands eternal torment as the only appropriate response, or that God’s judgment, which he believes ends with the unending torment of sinners, “is part of God’s putting things right” (130), but I would have to argue that Parry’s description of God, though accurate, does not demand we conclude that universal restoration is the most biblically sound, and theologically consistent view.
Does this description of the big picture of the biblical metanarrative combined with a few samples of biblical texts which speak of “all” or “the world” provide evidence for a definitive statement that God will do somehow redeem those who persist in the way of destruction? I don’t think Parry has met the bar he was aiming for. Do these texts really confirm that all persons will be reconciled or do they rather mean that reconciliation is possible for all? If God makes eternal life available to all2 but some opt out of that, does that mean God’s purposes have been eternally frustrated? Parry’s question is valid, but I’m not sure there’s a simple answer. The problem arises when we see considerable evidence in Scripture suggesting that some, perhaps even most will not have eternal life. For example, we see Paul speak of the opponents of the Gospel being punished with “eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord” (). We read of Christ’s warning that the righteous will enter eternal life in the Kingdom, while the unrighteous will go into “eternal punishment” (). Even if we understand “eternal” as “of the age”, as Parry does (120-121), there is still no indication that Jesus intends us to see here a period of punishment followed by entering eternal life. It seems to me that Jesus was telling his hearers that those excluded will be permanently excluded from the life of the age to come. We read in of fires of judgment being kept for “the destruction of the ungodly”. In the preceding chapter we read that the wicked will come to extinction. Jesus speaks of two ways; eternal life and destruction/perishing (e.g. , ) which is echoed by Paul (e.g. , ), James (), and John (). And in perhaps one of the trickiest passages for Parry’s argument, Paul says of the enemies of the cross, “Their end (telos) is destruction” ().
So is Scripture polyphonic? Is there a disagreement between different passages? Can Paul speak of some having a telos of destruction in one passage while saying all have a telos of redemption and eternal life in another? The text which Parry points to in order to define the trajectory of the metanarrative () is problematic, because although the text says “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (1:19-20) we cannot stop reading there. It certainly looks, if we read these verses in isolation, that the text supports Parry’s claim. However, as I’m sure someone must have pointed out to Parry by now, Colossians continues on from there; “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel” (a, emphasis added). So while (and , , , etc.) certainly give us cause to hope that all can have eternal life, those same books warn us that not all will have eternal life. and 6:23 make it difficult to affirm Parry’s thesis that suggests all will be saved. affirms Christ’s death is complete in making access possible for all, but 5:17-21 provide what certainly appear to be important conditions that need to be appropriated; that new creation is dependent upon one being “in Christ” and “reconciled to God” with some form of participation or agreement required. likewise says that yes, Christ died for the sin of every person, but the rest of 1 Jn. (esp. 5:1-12) is difficult to reconcile with Parry’s assertion of universal application of the saving work of Christ.
The objections to universalists are substantial, and certainly well known to Parry. He addresses many of them in the second half of his chapter. What is the place of judgment when everyone ends up at the same telos? Can one come to Christ after death? What about those other texts? Because of limited space, Parry obviously cannot tackle all the objections in detail in this contribution. But he does provide some answers which, although I’m not persuaded by them, move the conversation forward. He argues that we see in some examples, earthly judgement poured out on a nation, city, or people, which is then to be followed by restoration. Jeremiah brings a prophetic word against many nations, and also speaks of a restoration to come afterwards, and Ezekiel even speaks of the restoration of Sodom (Ezek. 16:53), and suggests reconciliation of Egypt (114-115). Parry suggests that this is analogous to how final judgement will play out. People will be judged, humbled, appropriate redress will be made, but restoration will come after this. While intriguing, I think this goes beyond the text. There is a sense of definiteness and finality to the judgement we see referred to in the texts noted above, and others.
Regarding postmortem repentance, Parry argues that there isn’t explicit support for this notion, but there isn’t explicit evidence against it either. His challenge “does death somehow fix us in some eternally sinful state?” is one that needs to be wrestled with by folks on all sides, as is Parry’s appeal to the character of God revealed in the parable of the lost sheep; that God “keeps on seeking a lost sheep ‘until he finds it’ ()” (116, emphasis Parry’s). Can God redeem a beloved, albeit rebellious, person after they have died? Well, the chapter after the lost sheep parable gives us the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, which does not give literal details on the nature of hell (it’s set in Hades, not Gehenna), but it does give the impression at least, that the Rich Man won’t cross the chasm to be where Lazarus is. Jesus seems to be saying that our earthly lives determine what comes next, and it does seem that this is fixed when the Rich Man enters Hades. It would be unwise to be too absolute when dealing with parables, but one can’t help but think Parry has pushed beyond the text here.
All of the texts Parry addresses as “tricky texts” I discussed in my response to Burk, and so I will simply respond to Parry’s reading by saying that these texts are best understood as pointing to irrevocable non-being and exclusion from the age to come as the telos of those who finally and ultimately reject God’s redemption.
Overall, Parry has given an incisive, and intelligent overview of a specifically evangelical universalist position. I am glad Zondervan did a 2nd edition mainly because of this essay. I don’t think Burk or Stackhouse brought anything new to the table in their contributions. Wall’s essay is interesting, bringing a protestant case for purgatory. In the first edition, the Catholic Purgatory view was presented, and no evangelical argument for universalism was included. Kudos to Preston Sprinkle and the publishers for filling out the discussion, and kudos to Robin Perry for an interesting, albeit unconvincing presentation. I was left wanting to pursue his case further.3 Parry’s bold, against the current, yet also gracious and respectful in tone, incisive case is what one wants from something like this project. He brings a lively, well composed, “good bang for your buck” argument, covering a lot of ground in a small space. As much as some may want to, I don’t see how evangelicals can continue to dismiss apokatastasis without real engagement. I remain unconvinced by the argument, but pleased and eager to continue real engagement with those who are convinced.

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  1. I wrote some thoughts on Pinnock, hell, justice, holiness, and the love of God here []
  2. Although Rethinking Hell contributors take various opinions regarding election and soteriology, I personally hold to a general atonement view; that is that Christ did die for all, not simply for the elect. []
  3. Parry wrote a book length presentation of evangelical universalism, under a pen name, which I am planning to pursue in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. []

who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:19-20

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 3:17

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

19:1 An oracle concerning Egypt.

Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,
and they will fight, each against another
and each against his neighbor,
city against city, kingdom against kingdom;
and the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out,
and I will confound their counsel;
and they will inquire of the idols and the sorcerers,
and the mediums and the necromancers;
and I will give over the Egyptians
into the hand of a hard master,
and a fierce king will rule over them,
declares the Lord God of hosts.

And the waters of the sea will be dried up,
and the river will be dry and parched,
and its canals will become foul,
and the branches of Egypt’s Nile will diminish and dry up,
reeds and rushes will rot away.
There will be bare places by the Nile,
on the brink of the Nile,
and all that is sown by the Nile will be parched,
will be driven away, and will be no more.
The fishermen will mourn and lament,
all who cast a hook in the Nile;
and they will languish
who spread nets on the water.
The workers in combed flax will be in despair,
and the weavers of white cotton.
10 Those who are the pillars of the land will be crushed,
and all who work for pay will be grieved.

11 The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish;
the wisest counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel.
How can you say to Pharaoh,
“I am a son of the wise,
a son of ancient kings”?
12 Where then are your wise men?
Let them tell you
that they might know what the Lord of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
13 The princes of Zoan have become fools,
and the princes of Memphis are deluded;
those who are the cornerstones of her tribes
have made Egypt stagger.
14 The Lord has mingled within her a spirit of confusion,
and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds,
as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
15 And there will be nothing for Egypt
that head or tail, palm branch or reed, may do.

16 In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the Lord of hosts shakes over them. 17 And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians. Everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the purpose that the Lord of hosts has purposed against them.

18 In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the Lord of hosts. One of these will be called the City of Destruction.

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the Lord because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. 21 And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?