Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return to Egypt

August 21: Jeremiah 41-45

1 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” . . . . 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. . . . Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.
Jeremiah 42:1-3, 5-12 & 15b-17

1 When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord their God, with which the Lord their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ . . . . 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah. . . . 7 And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the Lord. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.
Jeremiah 43:1-2, 4 & 7

Return to Egypt

The land was devastated, the enemy had overtaken the land, and only a small remnant of Judeans remained. Not knowing what to do, the people came to Jeremiah seeking the will of the Lord. Should they remain in the land and face the ire of the Chaldeans, or should they flee to Egypt for safety?

5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

It is right to seek the Lord when we are confronted by a crossroad in life, but when we receive an answer from the Lord, how do we respond?

Unfortunately, in spite of all they had been through, the remnant in the land did not learn a thing! God had brought judgment upon Judah because of their rebellion against Him. One would think that this would be uppermost in their minds, as they considered the advice of the Lord.

After ten days, God spoke to Jeremiah assuring the remnant of their safety if they remained in the land of Judah; however, if they followed their inclination to return to Egypt, they would bring upon themselves the fury of the Lord.

So, how did they respond?

When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord their God, with which the Lord their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there.’"

Before we become too judgmental, we must think of our own relationship with the Lord. How quickly are we ready to leave everything and follow the Lord, especially when He is leading in the direction we do not want to go?

We are often faced with this dilemma. Living in the midst of an evil and rebellious generation, we are often tempted to slide along with the crowd rather than to take that step of faith which leads us away from the popular opinion. What do we decide? Do we return to Egypt and a life of sin against God, or do we take the less traveled road of obedience to Him?

Ponder that thought as you face this day. Pray that God will give you strength of mind and strength of character to turn away from the ways of the world and to follow Christ alone.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.


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