So they said to Jeremiah, “Let the Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the Lord your God sends us by you. Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”
‘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. 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. And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’
“But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God, 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’— 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, 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. 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.’
“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘As My anger and My fury have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My fury be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse, and a reproach; and you shall see this place no more.’
“The Lord has said concerning you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Know certainly that I have admonished you this day. For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and according to all that the Lord your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God, or anything which He has sent you by me. Jeremiah 42:5-6,10-21
Things are not going well. The King of Babylon had taken much of the people into exile and left only the poor of the land in Judah. The people asked the prophet to pray and ask God what to do. But what God said was not what they wanted to hear and if you continue reading the story, you learn they refused to listen to Jeremiah and they go to Egypt anyway. This demonstrates a larger principle as well as gross rebellion. When we are experiencing the correction of God, we often become very stubborn and hard of hearing. We have a tendency when things are not working out to run away, run to the world – to try things a different way. We run to Egypt thinking things must be better there; even though we know this is wrong. God specifically told the people to stay in the land he had given them and live in submission under King Nebuchadnezzar. But they refused and went to Egypt. We do the same. We find when things are not going well, when God is correcting our sin, we run to the ways of the world, thinking this must be better than the suffering we are experiencing. Yet, we know in our hearts it is wrong. We are not willing to live under submission, we insist on having things our way no matter the consequences.
We practice the idolatry of the world and expect things to get better. Yet, in fact, they get worse. We are now experiencing some severe correction by God, yet instead of running to him, we play like we want to obey him, but really all the while are just running to the world for help. You see, in today’s Christian culture we offer silly platitudes and self-help psychology. This idolatry only deepens the problem and brings the full force of consequences down on our heads. We play at religion and lie to each other’s faces, when the truth is the Church, or organized religion is no different than the world, offering the same corrupt answers. When Yahweh says, do not go the Egypt, he is saying do not run to the world for answers. Be still in what I have given you and all will be well. Obedience is a funny thing, it requires enormous humility. Either we do it God’s way or we don’t. And in the end, just as with Judah, the results (or consequences) will speak volumes of truth.