Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 21: Friday
“If you really set your mind to enter Egypt and go in to reside there, then the sword, which you are afraid of, will overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine, about which you are anxious, will follow closely after you there in Egypt, and you will die there. So all the men who set their mind to go to Egypt to reside there will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence; and they will have no survivors or refugees from the calamity that I am going to bring on them.”
In Friday’s Bible reading of Jeremiah 42–46, those left in Judah after Nebuchadnezzar’s army has deported most of the people and burned Jerusalem, are ready to flee to Egypt out of fear of the Babylonians. They seek out Jeremiah to ask the Lord what they should do, promising to obey God whether His word is pleasant or unpleasant; however, they have no intention of obeying God unless the answer is what they want to hear. God knows this and had Jeremiah tell them:
The LORD has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go into Egypt!” You should clearly understand that today I have testified against you. For you have only deceived yourselves; for it is you who sent me to the LORD your God, saying, “Pray for us to the LORD our God; and whatever the LORD our God says, tell us so, and we will do it.”
Upon hearing this, in chapter 43, the people accuse Jeremiah of lying. Such is the power of denial and self-deception. They have already seen Jeremiah’s prophecies about the fall of Jerusalem come true, yet they persist in believing that God’s judgment will not fall on them. The people do go to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them. He prophesies to them of God’s coming judgment, and the depth of their rebellion is revealed in their reply:
“As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we are not going to listen to you! But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food and were well off and saw no misfortune. But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have met our end by the sword and by famine.”
This statement is breathtaking in its defiance of God. They refuse to see their misfortune as God’s judgment, even though they have been plainly told that it is. Rather than admit any sin, they are determined to persist in their idolatry. Rather than turn back to God and ask Him to keep them safe from the Babylonians, they flee to Egypt.
Most of Jeremiah 46, contains his prophecy concerning Egypt and the coming invasion of the Babylonians. At the end of the chapter, despite Judah’s rebellion against Him, once again, God promises to bring His people back to the land. He will make a full end of the nations to which He drives them, but He will not make a full end of Israel, but correct and punish them.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter