JEREMIAH 43:7: “And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the Lord. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: How many times have I stubbornly pursued my own will? The remnant of Judah, and other Jews who had been scattered following the Babylonian captivity and occupation, were gathered together in what was left of Jerusalem and Judah. Gedaliah had been appointed governor by the King of Babylon, and was violently murdered in a rebellious uprise. The Jews, priests, and leaders who were left feared the retaliation of the King of Babylon. Together they asked Jeremiah to pray for them and seek the Lord’s guidance. They pledged to follow the Lord’s counsel – whatever it would be!
I have been at this place many times in my life. Faced with a fork in the road, I have sought the will of God and the counsel of others. And like this Jewish remnant, I was not really honest about my intent. I said all the right things, but I really was bent on doing what I wanted to do. I knew it would “look” better if it had the appearance of God’s blessing. When Jeremiah brought the word from the Lord back to the remnant, it was not what they wanted to hear. The word of the Lord was – Stay in the land and be protected by the Lord. The warning of the Lord was – Go to Egypt and face the wrath of the King of Babylon. This was exactly the opposite of what they wanted to hear. So what did they do? They went to Egypt! What did I do – I went to Egypt (followed my predetermined path)!
What a full circle in the life of Israel! Delivered by the hand of God from Egypt under the ministry and leadership of Moses. Wandering in the wilderness for 40 years for their unbelief and rebellion. Finally led into the Promised Land victoriously under the courageous hand of Joshua. Establishing the Kingdom of Israel under the anointed rule of King David and Solomon. Facing internal struggle and being divided as a nation after the death of Solomon. Watching the 10 Northern Tribes being defeated and taken into exile by Nation of Assyria. Finally, facing their own defeat and exile under the mighty King of Babylon. And then – going right back to “square one”, the land of their bondage, with stubborn and rebellious hearts. Well did Peter speak of this cycle when he wrote,
- “What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22 ESV)
Now, it is easy to sit in the grandstand of condemnation and cry – “Those foolish and ignorant Israelites!” Yet, if I am really honest, I have done the same thing many times in my life. Like a small child, I have stubbornly persisted in wanting my own way, manipulating the facts and circumstances to justify my actions, and ultimately have come full circle to once again find myself wallowing in my original brokenness. Some may read this from the grandstands of condemnation and begin to think – “Boy, is this guy messed up!” And to that I would say – “Yes, but I am simply being honest, and I have sincerely repented!” All of us in life are just one step away from entering this turnstile. Paul writes,
- “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-13 ESV)
I have learned, and I am continually learning, to “take heed” to the examples in Scripture, and to “remember” the mistakes of my past. I don’t wallow in condemnation, for when I confess my sins before the Lord, He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins, and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Yet, I put a crease in the page, I hi-light the verse, I set up a memorial – to remember and learn from my mistakes so that I do not travel down this road of brokenness again. Through the bad decisions I have made, and through the grace and mercy of God, I am learning to surrender the stubbornness of my heart to the Lord. If I am truly humble, truly honest, truly open to the will of the Lord – He will always provide a way of escape for me. He was trying to provide one for the remnant of Israel – but they stubbornly went to Egypt. In doing so they left the grace and mercy of the Lord, and they missed His protection and provision.
Lord, give me the grace needed each day to “take heed” – lest I fall. May I remember the former days of my stubbornness and hardened heart. Keep my heart open, honest, and humble before You and others. Lead me in Your paths and help me fulfill Your will for my life. Let Your Kingdom come, Your will be done – in me, as it is in heaven!
In Jesus Name!