“Then all the people of Judah, from the least to the greatest, as well as the army commanders, fled in panic to Egypt, for they were afraid of what the Babylonians would do to them.” – 2 Kings 25:26 NLT
Do you remember how this story all started? The descendants of Jacob had been living in the land of Egypt as slaves. They had grown and multiplied so greatly that the Egyptians had become fearful of their sheer numbers and were making their lives increasingly difficult. God heard their cries and sent Moses to them as a deliverer. God miraculously freed them from their slavery to Egypt and led them to a land He had promised them – the land of Canaan. On the way there, they whined and moaned about the difficulty of their journey, their lack of food and water, and the leadership of Moses and Aaron. They even expressed regret that they had ever left Egypt, begging Moses to take them back. But God continued to put up with their bickering and complaining, providing them with manna and quail to eat and water to drink. He even kept their sandals from wearing out as they walked across the wilderness. While the first generation were required to wander in the wilderness until they died off for refusing to obey God’s command and occupy the land, the second generation actually made it in. They began to do what God had told them to do, and started amassing victories over the nations that lived in the land. But they never did obey God completely. They began to intermarry with the pagan nations and worship their gods. God gave them Judges to rule over them and rescue them when they got in trouble for their sinful lifestyles. He then gave them kings to act as His vice-regents, ruling on His behalf. But most of them turned out to be godless, rebelling against the very one who had placed them on the throne in the first place. Eventually, the kingdom split in two, dividing up the land and the people, and leaving the people of God in a constant state of civil war. And now we come to the end. The northern kingdom of Israel had been taken captive to Assyria years before, and now Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians. A remnant had been left in the land and been allowed to live off the produce of what was still a very productive land. Yet, they decided to rebel once again, killing Gedaliah, the governor the Babylonians had put over them. Then out of fear of retribution, they all fled to – of all places – Egypt. The story has come full circle. They are right back where they started from. Yes, some of them are in Assyria and some are in Babylon, but a small remnant find themselves in the land of Egypt, the very place God had delivered their forefathers from all those years ago.
Things had come full circle. For all intents and purposes, the land of promise was now empty again. The people of God were living in exile in Assyria, Babylon and Egypt. But God was not done with them. He continued to speak to them through His prophets like Ezekiel and Daniel, men who were living in exile along with the people. These men would continue to call the people to repentance and remind them that God was going to return them to the land one day. He would remain faithful to His covenant promises. A descendant of David would someday sit on the throne in Jerusalem. The city would be rebuilt and the land reoccupied.
But how sobering to think about these people returning to the very place where God had once delivered them. They had gone back instead of forward. They had reverted to their old way of life. God had delivered, but the digressed. He had released them from slavery, but they willingly returned. And isn’t that what many of us do in our lives today? God delivers us from sinful habits and unhealthy lifestyles, only to watch us willingly return right back to where we started. We go back to the beginning and wallow in the same addictions and habits we once struggled with and He delivered us from. Rather than trust Him, we return to what was comfortable. We forget how miserable we were before. Somehow we convince ourselves to believe that the past is preferable to our present circumstances. Yet God is calling us to trust Him. He wants us to remain faithful to Him, regardless of what we see going on around us. He wants us to stop rebelling and start relying. Going back to Egypt is the easy way out. It appears to offer us a way of escape and a respite from the difficulties in our lives. But God wants us to trust Him with our present and our future. He wants us to rest in the fact that He has a plan for our lives and He knows what is best. Running away to Egypt is not the answer. Returning to our past is not the solution. Trusting Him is.
Father, it is so easy to run away to Egypt – to return to what we know best – our old habits, sins, addictions and hangups. But keep us trusting in You regardless of how things may look around us. Egypt will always be there, tempting us with apparent safety and security, but never let us forget that You set us from those things to which we are tempted to return to. You have a greater future planned for us. But we have to trust You. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men