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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Promises of God vs. The Promises of Egypt (Jeremiah 42:10-11)

 "If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands."

God promises the remnant of Judah that, should they remain in the land, He would prosper and protect them. Moving to Egypt promises Judah an escape from Babylon's dominion and an endless supply of bread, or so they think. They are torn between the promises of God and the promises of Egypt. Theirs is a decision between faith and reason (sight). Will they trust that God will protect them while they live under the dominion of the Babylonians? Or will they run down to the fertile crescent of Egypt which, at that time, seemed beyond Babylon's reach?

Judah stands at the crossroad of two choices: here under Babylonia dominion with the protective promises of God or there out from under Babylon's dominion without the protective promises of God. In order to stay in Judah they would have to face their fears and trust God on a daily basis. Running to Egypt might bring temporary physical relief but they couldn't outrun the Babylonian armies for long.

This narrative teaches us that it is better to live in a dangerous place with the promises of God ("I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands") than to live in a "safe" place without the protective promises of God ('If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you to Egypt, and there you will die").

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Lamentations 5

  • Describe the people of Israel. 
  • It is interesting that joy is the first thing that goes when sin enters the heart.
  • What type of restoration do the children of Israel need?
2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40:1-44:22
  • Who does Nebuchadnezzar establish as leader over the remaining people? What are his instructions to those remaining in Jerusalem?
  • What does Nebuzaradan understand about God and about what has happened to the Jewish people?
  • What instructions does Nebuzaradan give to Jeremiah?
  • Why do the Jews in other countries return to Israel?
  • What warning has been given to Gedaliah about Ishmael son of Nethaniah?
  • Who is Ishmael and what does he do to Gedaliah and people in Mizpah?
  • The people approach Jeremiah and ask for his prayers. What do they promise Jeremiah? What does this tell you about people?
  • What does God promise the people? What does this tell you about God?
  • What do the people think they will find in Egypt?
  • Review Jeremiah 7:23-24. What do these verses tell you about God? About man?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to reveal areas of resistance and stubbornness in your heart. Ask Him to help you to walk by faith and not by sight only.