As Seen On Sunday: 5 Questions from Egypt
We provide a recap of the Sunday sermon to encourage you in the faith each week but it's not the same thing as being here.
The Israelites of the Bible and even the Jews of today could be regarded as the ultimate immigrants. Abraham left his own people on a journey that would lead to the establishment of the nation of Israel. They immigrated to Egypt under Joseph where they multiplied until they were a liability. Then they set out in the Exodus on their journey to the ‘promised land’ under Moses and then Joshua. Then they have been taken into captivity or occupied countless times. This includes the horrific Holocaust. But just as God promised, He has never allowed them to be completely destroyed or wiped out.
If we look into the history of the Israelites, we find that it was a constant struggle for them to follow and obey God, even when they were receiving new commandments from God and had prophets speaking for God. They constantly looked to other cultures for their own culture. They sort of had fo-mo. They wanted God to do the cool things that he does buttttt they wanted to worship the gods of other lands.
Please do not mistake this comparison for me saying that we know any sort of hardship like they did. I’m still convinced that the “western church” will be much different once the hardship does come.
So today we find ourselves back in Egypt. But not where I thought we would be. I’ve had the Israelites as immigrants in Egypt in my mind since I’ve known what I was speaking on but it most-likely was going to be about the golden calf. But God changes things :) So today we will be looking at Jeremiah 44, which I did not even realize that Egypt appears in Jeremiah but it turns out that Jeremiah was in Egypt with a group of Jews giving them messages from God.
In chapters 42 and 43, we see Jerusalem is already destroyed, the Jews had been scattered but a group comes together and they ask Jeremiah to ask God if they should stay or if they should go. God says stay and they say that Jeremiah is lying about what God said. Jeremiah says that the same thing that happened to Jerusalem will happen in Egypt if they go to there. Despite Jeremiah telling them that God says for his people to stay in Judah, the decision is made to leave again and go to Egypt. Jeremiah was apparently forced to come along with this group as they went to Egypt. They are once again immigrants and refugees in Egypt the place their people had once been enslaved.
Now we have Jeremiah talking to all of the Jews who are in Egypt, not just the ones he has been traveling with. He first reminds people why they aren't in Jerusalem: “they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they” and their fathers did not know, they refused to listen to warnings, and because of that Jerusalem was destroyed. But now while in Egypt they are doing the same things that lead to the destruction of Jerusalem!
[Jeremiah 44:15-18] When confronted with this they said,
“16 As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you. 17 But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem.”
“For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18 But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.”
They basically blamed Jeremiah and God for the bad things that happened to them in Jerusalem, shifting blame from their bad actions, they put their trust in false gods. As a result God promises that the same things that happened to Jerusalem would happen to the Jews in Egypt.
Nice history lesson Sean but what does this have to do with us?
We remember the actions of the Israelites today because we have to be careful not to fall into the same traps. As Christians we are not at home. This city is not our own. We are guests. We are ambassadors for Christ. But are we living like that is the truth? Are we too attached to this land? Are we looking to God or to culture to make us safe, secure, and happy? I think this leads us to 5 questions that we should be asking ourselves.
5 Questions in the Life of an Immigrant.
- Are we even where God has told us to be? Now I understand this can be complicated because sometimes God leads us in a direction and we don't know exactly where we are suppose to be as can be seen by Abraham and in Exodus. In the case of Jonah, he went in the opposite direction of where he was suppose to be. In our passage today, they were specifically where God told them not to be. This is when a missionary will say that God might be calling you to the specific foreign country that they are called to, which He could be. But really, is God telling you to stay put or to move? Did you leave that church or quit that job with or without God? [ Note, Josh brought up the question if we can ever be where God doesn't want us in the fact that God teaches us things we have to learn before we can be "where we are suppose to be."]
- Are we worshiping any of the gods of this land? Maybe not in the traditional sense of worshiping a god in a different religion but bowing down to the distractions of the culture in which we reside. We desire the latest and greatest technology. Fastest car, biggest truck. Fancy house. Often culture says one thing is okay when it is not. In the western Christian culture we often God better bless me and any blessings we do have someone else gets the credit.
- Are any of these radical “prophet” types actually sent by God? The ones that give a date or year and it passes do not seem to have been sent by God. But do we know of any one that it saying something that we should be heeding? Why or why not are we heeding it? What about the Bible? Is the Word of God not prophetic enough for us to heed?
- Are we casting blame onto God or those who have warned us? God told them if they kept doing what they were doing what would happen and then they acted as if a false god was the reason for the good things that happened to them. Have we rejected the Holy Spirit because He has been convicting us of our disobedience?
- Are we the cause of the destruction of our area or country? The Israelites brought destruction on their own God-given land and then brought it on another country. Is destruction coming to America because of Christian disobedience? Could we “save America” if all the Christians started being Christians?
We must decide what kind of immigrants we are going to be. Will we obey God or be part of the problem?