In _____ We Trust
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…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 into Egypt, and there you will die.
~ Jeremiah 42:10, 16
Nebuchadnezzar left a governor in Judah to rule over the remaining people. Rebels in Israel assassinated the governor and invited the wrath of Babylon once again. The remnant sought Jeremiah’s counsel, inquiring as to whether they should stay in Jerusalem and risk Nebuchadnezzar’s armies, or flee to Egypt and seek Pharaoh’s protection. Jeremiah prayerfully considered the matter and received a word from the Lord.
Predictably, the people refused to believe Jeremiah and determined to flee to the land of their forefathers’ oppressors.
We often face the temptation to flee back to Egypt. “Egypt”, in both its literal and allegorical forms, represented a false security, a shallow and deceptive ally. “Jerusalem” represented a place of faith and trust in the living God. Almost as soon as the Israelites escaped their captivity in Egypt many hundreds of years before Jeremiah, they began to lament the uncertainty of their new situation, and craved an oppression that was, if nothing else, predictable. There was a form of security, no doubt. But it was joyless, powerless, and without any hope beyond survival. For all its uncertainty, the Promised Land represented a new, if difficult to imagine hope and future.
Today we face a similar temptation to rely on worldly things that never quite deliver on their promises of peace and happiness, yet offer an illusion of security. Like the people of Jeremiah’s time, we must listen and trust and remain in the Promised Land, or we will also forfeit a bright future for a false hope.
Lord, may I ever trust in you, and not in the things of this world. Amen.
~ Stephen J. Peterson