With the Assyrian invasion looming over their heads, the nation of Israel was faced with two options. They could trust the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - the God who brought them out of Egypt and made them into a great nation - to deliver them from destruction or they could enlist the help of a floundering, weak nation to the South.
Instead of relying on God and His promises, Israel turned to that little nation to the South: Egypt. Yes, Israel enlisted the help of the very nation that had only years before held them captive as slaves!
As a result, Isaiah pronounces judgment on those who opted to trust in man rather than in the God of Israel. Listen to what he has to say here:
Isaiah 31:1: "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and who depend on horses! They trust in the abundance of chariots and in the large number of horsemen. They do not look to the Holy One of Israel and they do not seek the Lord." [CSB]
When faced with danger, Israel chose to seek the safety of Egypt's military might rather than the God who had brought them out of slavery and made them into who they were as a nation in the first place. And this wasn't the first time they did this, either!
Mere weeks after being delivered out of slavery, the Israelites grumble to Moses about their lack of food. In despair, they cry out:
Exodus 16:3: "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted. Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger."
Ponder that for a moment. God had just delivered them from Egypt, miraculously parted the Red Sea to facilitate their flight from Pharoah, and was now leading them to the Promised Land. On the way, they get a little hungry and immediately begin lamenting that they left Egypt at all!
Then again, years later, their knee-jerk response to danger is to run to Egypt, where they believe horses and chariots led by mere men will save them from the Assyrian invasion. It sounds crazy, doesn't it?
But what if I told you that we are guilty of the same thing every single day?
That might sound ridiculous, but I assure you - we are all guilty of returning to Egypt. Don't believe me? What is your gut response when faced with a difficult situation in life? What do you do when you find out a loved one has died, or you lose your job, or you learn that you are unable to have kids? Is it to seek the Lord in prayer? Or is it to lose yourself in a pool of fear and anxiety?
Or what is your response to temptation? In moments when you are presented with sin, do you always say no? Or do you find yourself engaging in the viewing of pornography, or telling another lie, or burying your problems in excessive alcohol consumption, or yet again allowing your temper to get the best of you?
It seems as if our default response to difficulty is to run back to the things that once controlled us. We all have our Egypts - our pet sins - that we run to time and time again to alleviate our stress, or our worry, or our anxiety, or our whatever it is that is ailing us.
Whenever you do these things - whenever you choose sin over trusting God - you are going back to Egypt. You are returning to the things that Christ delivered you from when he saved you and forsaking the God who redeemed you in the first place. So I beg of you, Christian.
Don't go back to Egypt.
When you are faced with sin, don't allow yourself to be pulled back into its clutches. The Israelites trusted Egypt and Assyria walked all over them. The same thing will happen to us if we fail to trust God in our lives. Mere men cannot fulfill our needs. Sin will never truly satisfy us, no matter how appealing it may seem.
God did not save you so you could return to your sinful ways. He didn't choose you from before the foundation of the world to merely return to the base ways of those who do not know God. No, Titus says that,
Titus 2:14: "He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works." [CSB]
And again in Ephesians 2:10 Paul explains that, "we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do." [CSB]
Christ redeemed us so that we would be a people His Father could possess. A people created for good works who are zealous for those good works. We weren't saved so we could go back to Egypt.
We were saved so that we could glorify God here on earth.
So today, say no to Egypt in whatever form it presents itself to you and instead, say yes to God's purpose in your life. Say yes to the good works He created you for and, "Return to the one the Israelites have greatly rebelled against. For on that day, every one of you will reject the silver and gold idols that your own hands have sinfully made." [Isaiah 31:6-7 CSB]
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