Do Not Go Down to Egypt
“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance,but not of my Spirit,
that they may add sin to sin;
2 who set out to go down to Egypt,
without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
3 Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.
Woe to the alliance with Egypt! The whole project is doomed to failure.
4 For though his officials are at Zoan
and his envoys reach Hanes,
5 everyone comes to shame
through a people that cannot profit them,
that brings neither help nor profit,
but shame and disgrace.”
6 An oracle on the beasts of the Negeb.
Through a land of trouble and anguish,
from where come the lioness and the lion,
the adder and the flying fiery serpent,
they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,
and their treasures on the humps of camels,
to a people that cannot profit them.
7 Egypt’s help is worthless and empty;
therefore I have called her
“Rahab who sits still.”
A Rebellious People
8 And now, go, write it before them on a tablet
and inscribe it in a book,
that it may be for the time to come
as a witness forever.
When I was a teacher, a common piece of instruction from the administration was this: If you don’t document it, it didn’t happen. We were required to put “situations” with students or parents in writing. Here God gives the same directions: Write it down. It will stand as proof.
9 For they are a rebellious people,
children unwilling to hear
the instruction of the Lord;
10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
11 leave the way, turn aside from the path,
let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel,
“Because you despise this word
and trust in oppression and perverseness
and rely on them,
13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you
like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse,
whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant;
14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel
that is smashed so ruthlessly
that among its fragments not a shard is found
with which to take fire from the hearth,
or to dip up water out of the cistern.”
God says that Egypt’s “help” will be like a wall of defense that bulges and collapses, or like a piece of pottery which breaks so completely that no fragment is large enough to use for another purpose. Judah is foolish to turn elsewhere for help, when the Lord is calling them back to himself.
15 For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Is there anything that can touch our hearts like the power of stillness?
For the hearts that will cease focusing on themselves, there is “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 47); “quietness and trust” (Isaiah 30:15), which is the source of all strength; a “great peace” that will never “make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165); and a deep rest, which the world can neither give nor take away. Deep within the center of the soul is a chamber of peace where God lives and where, if we will enter it and quiet all the other sounds, we can hear His “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12).
There is only one way to know God: “Be still and know” (Psalm 46:10). “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
–from Streams in the Desert
But you were unwilling, 16 and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
therefore you shall flee away;
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
therefore your pursuers shall be swift.
17 A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you shall flee,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
like a signal on a hill.
The Lord Will Be Gracious
18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
Have you ever noticed that God is not in a hurry? It took 40 years for Moses to receive his commission to lead the people out of Egypt. It took 17 years of preparation before Joseph was delivered from slavery and imprisonment. It took 20 years before Jacob was released from Laban’s control. Abraham and Sarah were in their old age when they finally received the son of promise, Isaac. So why isn’t God in a hurry?
God called each of these servants to accomplish a certain task in His Kingdom, yet He was in no hurry to bring their mission into fulfillment. First, He accomplished what He wanted in them. We are often more focused on outcome than the process that He is accomplishing in our lives each day. When we experience His presence daily, one day we wake up and realize that God has done something special in and through our lives. However, the accomplishment is no longer what excites us. Instead, what excites us is knowing Him. Through those times, we become more acquainted with His love, grace, and power in our lives. When this happens, we are no longer focused on the outcome because the outcome is a result of our walk with Him. It is not the goal of our walk, but the by-product. Hence, when Joseph came to power in Egypt, he probably couldn’t have cared less. He had come to a place of complete surrender so that he was not anxious about tomorrow or his circumstances.
This is the lesson for us. We must wait for God’s timing and embrace wherever we are in the process. When we find contentment in that place, we begin to experience God in ways we never thought possible.
19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!”
God waits until the disaster of our choice has taught us the foolishness of that choice . . .
23 And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. In that day your livestock will graze in large pastures, 24 and the oxen and the donkeys that work the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. 25 And on every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
. . . and once we turn to God, he will be our Teacher, Guide, Giver of rain and prosperity, Healer, Rock, and Defender.
26 Moreover, the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the brokenness of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.
27 Behold, the name of the Lord comes from afar,
burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke;
his lips are full of fury,
and his tongue is like a devouring fire;
28 his breath is like an overflowing stream
that reaches up to the neck;
to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction,
and to place on the jaws of the peoples a bridle that leads astray.
29 You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
1 John 4:17 (NLT)
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
30 And the Lord will cause his majestic voice to be heard and the descending blow of his arm to be seen, in furious anger and a flame of devouring fire, with a cloudburst and storm and hailstones. 31 The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the Lord, when he strikes with his rod. 32 And every stroke of the appointed staff that the Lord lays on them will be to the sound of tambourines and lyres. Battling with brandished arm, he will fight with them. 33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it.
Do you take the time to rest in the peace that God has promised to you? Take a few moments now to Be still and know. Click HERE to listen to La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale, and the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, with Philippe Herreweghe, conductor, sing “Grant Us Thy Peace” by Felix Mendelssohn.
O Lord God grant us Thy peace and thy mercy
For these times in which we live!
For there is none other save Thou, Lord,
Who hath the power to fight for us.
What a gorgeous and moving piece of music!