When the Babylonians took Israel into captivity, a remnant was left in Judah. They asked Jeremiah to seek the Lord for them so they would know what to do. Should they stay, or go to Egypt? They said they would do whatever God told them.
Ten days later, God spoke to Jeremiah. Ten days is a long time to wait for an answer, but that’s a thought for another day.
Anyway, God gave Jeremiah an answer. The remnant should stay in Judah and He would bless them. They would have houses and crops and livestock and peace. If they went to Egypt, they would have famine and pestilence and the sword and destruction. So…they went to Egypt.
I wonder why. There’s some indication in the scriptures that they were afraid of the Babylonians coming back for them. So maybe they had already decided to go and asked Jeremiah, hoping he would confirm it. Or maybe they just asked for show, to look very righteous and holy. Or maybe they were so sure they knew what God would say, so sure they had figured Him out. Who knows?
And then the story fast forwards to Egypt. They’re there. They’re living their lives. God gives Jeremiah a word for them.
He reminds them of all those who went to captivity in Babylon and all their forefathers who burned incense and sacrificed to foreign gods. For generations, God had told them not to, but they never listened. Jerusalem was destroyed — they had been warned many times. Israel and Judah were taken captive. Again, they had been warned many times.
Well, as it turns out, the remnant who had been left in the Promised Land, who would have been blessed had they stayed in Judah, who didn’t listen and went to Egypt. That remnant. They were now…burning incense and sacrificing to foreign gods in Egypt.
God said to stop. They said no. They said that when they sacrificed to foreign gods, things were good. When they stopped, things were bad.
I get that. Sad, but true. It’s so easy to look at circumstance to make choices. It’s so easy to look at others and say, “Wow, that’s working well for them. I should try that.” It’s so easy to decide for myself based on what I want, what I like, what feels good. It’s so easy to make things happen for myself.
But my God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He’s a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He wants me for Himself. And He wants to give me Himself. That’s not a bad deal.
But it does mean trusting God. It means submission. It means testing and trials. It means not following the ways of the world, no matter how good they look. It means seeking God and obeying Him, even if I want a different answer.
It means being blessed. It means drinking living water, never to thirst again (John 4:14). It means growing in character. It means walking by faith and seeing God’s provision. It means peace and love. It means the glory of God.
It’s not easy. And sometimes the ways of the world look considerable easier. They make more sense. They’re more comfortable. But only for a season. The end doesn’t work out so well (Psalm 73).
It’s my choice, really. God is in control of when and how He blesses me, and pretty much everything. But this choice? He leaves that up to me. Will I obey or not? Will I say yes or no?
For someone who likes control, this is where I have it. This is my golden opportunity. So what’ll it be?
I choose yes. I choose obedience. I choose blessing. And that takes trust. And faith. I choose those.
So what happened to the remnant in Egypt? Did they stop worshiping foreign gods? Did they get their blessing?
No. Nebuchadnezzar came to Egypt too. The remnant was virtually destroyed. Even Jeremiah died in Egypt. (The remnant had taken him with them when they left Judah (Jeremiah 43:5-7).) And just as God had said through Jeremiah, very few ever returned to Judah.
I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if they had stayed in Judah, Jerusalem, and Israel. We’ll never know what they forfeited. But I do know this: I don’t want to forfeit anything God has for me. So I leave my life in His hands. I trust Him with my todays. And I trust Him with my end.
Praise be to the Lord Most High!