Is our nation doing exactly what God told the Israelites not to do, heading for Egypt?
Egypt represents the world and its systems. It refers to the world, the government, and man’s wisdom. Are we looking to those things to care for us, feed us, protect us, and get us out of this mess. Sadly, that is a recipe for disaster.
As a nation what will we do? And if our nation continues headlong toward Egypt, will we be like Jeremiah and Baruch who obeyed God or like the leaders of Israel who rejected God’s warnings? Whose side will we be on … in our hearts, in our personal lives, and in the public arena?
Jeremiah 45 & 46
2 Timothy 3.1-17
Are We Headed for Egypt?
Jeremiah 45 & 46:
Trusting God’s Sovereign Plan
In chapter 45 God speaks to Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe or secretary. Baruch was depressed and discouraged because of all the disaster God was about to bring on his nation.
Baruch hung out with Jeremiah. He knew what Jeremiah knew. He understood the what and why of God’s dealings with His people. And yet, he was struggling with his feelings.
And just because we understand truths like Romans 8.28-29, 1 Corinthians 10.13, and other similar passages, doesn’t mean we enjoy the trial when it affects us! Perhaps, Baruch was asking “Why me? Why did I have to be born at this time in history? Why couldn’t God have sent me somewhere else until all this was over?” Perhaps, he was reminding God that he had served Him faithfully and didn’t deserve this.
The Lord gently rebuked him for his self-pity, but then encouraged him with a promise.
Verse 5, “‘And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,’ says the LORD. ‘But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.’”
God was encouraging him to not be focused on himself, but to trust in His sovereign plan and His ability to use it for good, and to trust in His divine oversight and protection.
Egypt or Bust?
In chapter 46 God turns to the nation as a whole. The people have now fled to Egypt to escape the hardships at home. Remember they had gone there in defiance of a direct command from God. Not only had God commanded them not to go there, He had promised to take care of them if they stayed where they belonged!
While the book of Jeremiah was written to the nation of Israel, there are many principles that can be gleaned and have application to other nations and situations, including America.
In spite of what you hear on the news and in the classroom today, America was founded by godly men on godly principles. For two centuries God used us to spread the Gospel, to protect the weak, and to be a beacon of hope and rescue. Because of that God blessed us with great resources, an abundance of ideas and creativity, and spiritual and physical protection.
But, as a whole, we have rejected the very God who has blessed and protected us. We have loved our sins and hated truth. We have rewritten history to suit our purposes and redefined right and wrong. In fact, we have called evil good and good evil. We have become tolerant of sin, murder, and idolatry; and intolerant of truth and righteousness. And when things turned badly, like the Israelites, we fled to Egypt.
Egypt represents the world and its systems. We are looking to the world, to the government, and to man’s wisdom to care for us, feed us, protect us, and get us out of this mess. Sadly, that is a recipe for disaster. Over and over again throughout the Bible, we have been told to “stand still and see the salvation of God” (Ex. 14.13) and warned not to turn to Egypt. Isaiah 31.1:
1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
And rely on horses,
Who trust in chariots because they are many,
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
Nor seek the LORD!
Let’s look back at Jeremiah 42.7-17:
7 And it happened after ten days that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him. 10 ‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,’ says the LORD, ‘for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’
God’s mercy is available to our nation if we will trust Him and be who He has called us to be. But …
13 “But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the LORD your God, 14 saying, ‘No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell’— 15 Then hear now the word of the LORD, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel. ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. 17 So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.’”
If we, as a nation, continue to look to Egypt for our rescue, how can we expect God’s blessings?
Oh, we cry out in times of crisis. After 9-11 we flocked to our churches. Verses 1-3:
1… and all the people, from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Please, let our petition be acceptable to you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, for all this remnant (since we are left but a few of many, as you can see), 3 that the LORD your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do.”
But just as quickly we turned away from the truth, 43.2:
2 … and all the proud men spoke, saying to Jeremiah, “You speak falsely! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to dwell there.’
As a nation, what will we do? And if our nation continues headlong toward Egypt, will we be like Jeremiah and Baruch or like the leaders of Israel?
Whose side will we be on … in our hearts, in our personal lives, in the public arena?
Today’s Other Readings:
A Light to Our Path
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
We should allow God’s Word to direct every area of our lives—not just how we conduct ourselves at church or around other believers—but in our homes, our work places, in the market place, and as citizens in our nation.
Behind Enemy Lines
“Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.”
We talk a lot about what is going on in Washington. We complain about the partisanship and the inability of our lawmakers to solve the nation’s problems. But what is our responsibility in it all?
James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Perhaps, we have willingly placed ourselves “behind enemy lines.” Should we really be surprised that we’re under fire? But for those who will stay faithful to God and His Word, who will humble themselves and pray, not give in or run to Egypt, God will show Himself faithful.
2 Timothy 3.1-17:
In the Last Days
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth. men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
Men (and women) will be “lovers of themselves.” This certainly includes our generation with its focus on “self-esteem” and personal rights (especially the right to live without the restraint of God’s law).
“Lovers of money”—This requires no comment.
“Blasphemers”—There is no longer any fear of God.
“Disobedient to parents”—This has got to be at an all-time high. There is little respect for authority of any kind!
Read through the list again—“unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”—We are a pleasure driven society!
Look again at the rest of the passage:
“Having a form of godliness”—Many people attend church so they can check off their “God box,” and live like the world the rest of the week. Others, like some of our movie and TV personalities, are always promoting the latest spiritual guru.
“Those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women”—Sounds like TV to me! “Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”—“from such people turn away!” Oprah anyone!
But this chapter also has one of the most important passages for us to know and live by:
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Scripture, unlike the thoughts and impressions of sinful men and women, is given by inspiration of God. That is—it was breathed out by God. It is His infallible, inerrant perfect Word and will for His creation. It is “profitable for doctrine.” Another translation says “teaching.” It teaches us how to live. It is profitable for “reproof”—showing us when we are wrong. It also shows us how to get it right—“correction.” And how to live righteously as a lifestyle—“instruction in righteousness.” When we follow it we are “equipped for every good work”—including the problems and challenges with which we’re faced in our families, in our nation, and in our world.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about ways to make a difference in someone’s life, whether being good really matters, the basics of the Christian life and more.
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