A daily devotion for August 30th
A Message About Egypt
46 This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations:
2 Concerning Egypt:
This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
3 “Prepare your shields, both large and small,
and march out for battle!
4 Harness the horses,
mount the steeds!
Take your positions
with helmets on!
Polish your spears,
put on your armor!
5 What do I see?
They are terrified,
they are retreating,
their warriors are defeated.
They flee in haste
without looking back,
and there is terror on every side,”
declares the Lord.
6 “The swift cannot flee
nor the strong escape.
In the north by the River Euphrates
they stumble and fall.
7 “Who is this that rises like the Nile,
like rivers of surging waters?
8 Egypt rises like the Nile,
like rivers of surging waters.
She says, ‘I will rise and cover the earth;
I will destroy cities and their people.’
9 Charge, you horses!
Drive furiously, you charioteers!
March on, you warriors—men of Cush[a] and Put who carry shields,
men of Lydia who draw the bow.
10 But that day belongs to the Lord, the Lord Almighty—
a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes.
The sword will devour till it is satisfied,
till it has quenched its thirst with blood.
For the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will offer sacrifice
in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.
11 “Go up to Gilead and get balm,
Virgin Daughter Egypt.
But you try many medicines in vain;
there is no healing for you.
12 The nations will hear of your shame;
your cries will fill the earth.
One warrior will stumble over another;
both will fall down together.”
13 This is the message the Lord spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to attack Egypt:
14 “Announce this in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol;
proclaim it also in Memphis and Tahpanhes:
‘Take your positions and get ready,
for the sword devours those around you.’
15 Why will your warriors be laid low?
They cannot stand, for the Lord will push them down.
16 They will stumble repeatedly;
they will fall over each other.
They will say, ‘Get up, let us go back
to our own people and our native lands,
away from the sword of the oppressor.’
17 There they will exclaim,
‘Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise;
he has missed his opportunity.’
18 “As surely as I live,” declares the King,
whose name is the Lord Almighty,
“one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains,
like Carmel by the sea.
19 Pack your belongings for exile,
you who live in Egypt,
for Memphis will be laid waste
and lie in ruins without inhabitant.
20 “Egypt is a beautiful heifer,
but a gadfly is coming
against her from the north.
21 The mercenaries in her ranks
are like fattened calves.
They too will turn and flee together,
they will not stand their ground,
for the day of disaster is coming upon them,
the time for them to be punished.
22 Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent
as the enemy advances in force;
they will come against her with axes,
like men who cut down trees.
23 They will chop down her forest,”
declares the Lord,
“dense though it be.
They are more numerous than locusts,
they cannot be counted.
24 Daughter Egypt will be put to shame,
given into the hands of the people of the north.”
25 The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh. 26 I will give them into the hands of those who want to kill them—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past,” declares the Lord.
27 “Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel.
I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.
28 Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant,
for I am with you,” declares the Lord.
“Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”
This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations: Concerning Egypt: This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah... Jeremiah 46:1-2
This takes us back to the year 605 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar first came up against Judah. He was met by the armies of Egypt at the city of Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and there one of the great strategic battles of all history was fought. Until then, Egypt had been the most powerful nation of the day, but Babylon broke the power of Egypt at that place. In chapter 46, Jeremiah is describing that battle in advance — how long in advance we do not know. He describes in very vivid terms the advance of the Babylonian army, the clash of these conflicting forces, the terrible battle that ensued, and the final defeat of Egypt. We will not take time to cover these verses, but you can read them for yourself. The language is very beautiful.
However, in the midst of this a characterization is made of Egypt. In the Scriptures Egypt is a picture of the world and its influence upon us. Egypt was a place of tyranny and bondage for the people of Israel. They were under the yoke of a wicked and severe king who enslaved them and treated them cruelly. Yet strangely enough, after they escaped, it was the place they always fondly remembered and wanted to return to. They remembered the food, the comfort, and the ease of life in Egypt. So this has always stood as a picture of the lure of the world to the believer — to think as it thinks, to react as it reacts, to seek from the world your own satisfaction and pleasure and enjoyment instead of living for the glory of God.
Now, when I refer to
the world I am not talking about people, nor about doing any specific so-called
worldly thing. That is not what worldliness is. Worldliness is an attitude of life that causes you to think of living only for your own pleasures and enjoyment. That is what Egypt symbolizes in Scripture. The character of Egypt is described for us in Verses 7-8:
Who is this, rising like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge? Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge (Jeremiah 46:7-8a RSV). Every spring the Nile River rises and overflows its banks, and this restores Egypt. The prophet uses this as a picture of the way the world comes at us — in surges and waves. We think we have it licked, but pretty soon it will come at us again. Repeatedly, throughout our lifetime as believers on our spiritual pilgrimage, the world rises to afflict us and to lure us, and seeks to betray us and get us back into bondage again.
But there is another message here about Egypt, Verses 13-24, delivered by Jeremiah after he had gone into exile in Egypt. Here he describes the forthcoming invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which took place after Jeremiah's death. In accord with this prophesy, Nebuchadnezzar came down into Egypt and took over the land. In the midst of this prophesy is another characterization of Egypt,
Call the name of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, (Jeremiah 46:17 RSV)
Noisy one who lets the hour go by.
Isn't that a strange name to give somebody? That is the characterization of Egypt — and the world. It is one of the ways we can recognize the world: it loves noise, because it does not want to stop and think. It loves to kill time. The world comes at us constantly, trying to get us to think only in terms of immediate pleasure and indulgence, and forgetting that it leads to slavery and bondage. So God punishes Egypt — that is the message here.
Thank you, Father, for the faithfulness of your word. Teach me to stand against the world and stay faithful to you in this day of moral dissolution.
Life Application: Are we learning to identify and compare worldly attitudes by comparing them with God's Word of Truth? Have we succumbed to the worldly distraction of noise?
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