Relevant magazine has just published a write up (see puff piece) on the heretical Rob Bell. I’ve been “blessed” with obtaining a scan of a page such that I don’t actually have to buy it so that I can read some and respond. I don’t have a lot of time but this is totally worth it. First, let’s get some understanding of what this is about, then we’ll tackle the quote and get some follow up in here.

In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will speak the language of Canaan and swear by the LORD of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction.
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. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the LORD because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. Then the LORD will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the LORD and perform it. And the LORD will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the LORD, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.
In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.”

~ Isaiah 19:18-25

There is an absolutely mind-blowing passage in Isaiah 19 where God calls Egypt His son and Assyria His beloved. Egypt and Assyria were the archenemies of Israel. Today, that passage would literally be “Taliban My son, Al-Qaueda My beloved.”

~ Rob Bell, Relevant Magazine Jan/Feb ’08, page 67

When you read it in context you see that the reason that God is blessing Egypt and Assyria as well as Israel is because God has just judged them and punished the lands for their worship of false gods. It was in that persecution from God that they turned in a right response to God and worshipped Him. They had received the grace of God. Not ALL of Egypt and not for all time. Read Judges to see how stupid and sheep-like we are; worshipping God while we have a great leader then back to worshipping idols when we think no one is looking. The last 7 verses speak of FIVE cities turning in a right response to their creator and it’s filled with that language. The best part is, as you know, the prophet Isaiah is speaking in the “prophetic language” which speaks of a recent and a far off prophecy. It meant something to them locally at the time and something that won’t happen for a long time to come. This section is about the day of the LORD, and that, as we know from the rest of scripture, refers to the day when Jesus comes in glory to rule and reign for a thousand years. That’s after the rapture and after 7 years of brutal tribulations.

Does that mean that God is totally accepting of those who fail to call on Jesus in a right response in light of their sinfulness and their separation from Him in that sin? NO! All of scripture declares the glory and righteousness of God and we can see it over and over in the Law, and in His righteous judgements, and in the way in which we are to respond to Him! If you take all that information and all of that knowledge and toss it aside to create for yourself a new god who is loving and accepting for all, then that’s fine but don’t call it Jesus and don’t peddle it to millions of people in your books or “speaking tours”.

Here’s a great commentary on this chapter that explains it in much more detail For reference, I really like the Matthew Henry Commentaries