Wednesday in the Word
Good afternoon! I hope you're doing well. I know I always say this, but time really does fly. I can't believe it is already another Wednesday! Today, I'm coming at you with another Hump-Day encouragement in the Word :)
" '... Indeed, all who are determined to go to Egypt to settle there will die by the sword, famine and plague; not one of them will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them.’ " - Jeremiah 42:17
Okay, so I know what you're thinking, "Sharon, you've gone bonkers. There's no way that this Old-Testament-wrathful-God verse is encouraging", but it is very encouraging! Hear me out~
So, a little background story: Jeremiah lives around 626 BC, and he is a prophet who is delivering a message from God to Israel: "Do not be afraid" of Babylon, because He will save them and deliver them. In a bible study group, we just recently went through Joshua, and I see so many parallels in the seasons that Israel is going through now, in comparison to the time of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. This is the same wording that God uses when telling Joshua "Do not be afraid" when going into battle over 2500 years prior to Jeremiah! Despite this being so many generations later, the story of how their ancestors had escaped Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, wandered for 40 years in the desert, and fought miraculous wars against all of the other Israeli tribes has most likely been passed down. Because of this, God is reminding the people that He is sovereign even over Babylon just as He was sovereign over Jericho, Ai, the Northern Kings, and numerous others; it is up to them to trust Him, as Joshua did. Jeremiah 42:17 is not just a warning, but a reminder to have faith, because in His eyes, the only difference between life and death is knowing He is God.
I feel like most of the time, God's graciousness and loving side is only credited through the New Testament, but it's important to recognize that God is constant. He never changes. I find that this is very applicable to this verse, because not only does it follow the reassuring words "Do not be afraid,...", but He establishes that He is the same God that was with Israel in Egypt, led them out, and conquered the land. He is telling Israel that whomever turns back to Egypt has forgotten what God has done, and is therefore no better than the tribes that were demolished during the time of Joshua and Caleb.
Yes yes, I know, it still sounds like a scary, wrathful God, but I think the bigger message behind this is that He is still that scary, wrathful God, but is loving and merciful. He already knows who wants to give up and turn back, but still gives an ample warning and reminder that everything will be okay. He tells them that He will deliver them from Babylon, a crazy strong and big empire that struck fear in the leaders of Israel. He tells them to not be afraid, because He is with them.
Now, in the A.D. days, Jesus' sacrifice has saved us from these horrible deaths. Obviously warfare, murders, and horrible car accidents still happen, but there is grace. We are imperfect people who crumble at the weight of our fears and sins, but there is grace. While grace is a good thing, we are also recognizing less and less what the weight of our sins are. Sin is not as simple as doing something "wrong", but simply turning away and forgetting God. That is what this verse highlights, and let's be honest: how many times do we forget God? How many people have turned away from God? How many families do not even know God? How lenient are we with sin? For Jesus to have taken the wrath for all of us, how much did He suffer? As believers, do we ever think about that?
Even though most of us reading this blog post right now are not fighting physical wars against large empires, we are fighting battles. Some of us are fighting to break the glass ceiling. Some of us are struggling against the economy. Some of us are trying to break free from stereotypes. We all have fears and battles that we are fighting against, and isn't it great to remember that God is the same God who led Israel out of Egypt and parted the Red Sea for them? Once we have turned towards God, we should constantly remember what He has done, and can do, and let that guide us forward. We have no reason to shirk away and turn back, because God has delivered us. No fear in love means knowing that God's love is eternal, everlasting, and never changing, so His sovereignty will always be for our good. Letting fear constrict us is the number one way that The Enemy stops us from feeling God's love and eventually leads us away from God. Just as He warns that going back to Egypt will only bring a horrible death, once we let fear take over and wreak destruction into our lives, and those around us. Our God is the LION of Judah, and has bravely overcome before us and delivered us from the battle. We might get injured, but it will be okay, because God is with us, and there's nothing better than that. Live fearlessly, because that is the biggest testimony for what God's love has done in your life.
Do not be afraid and do something completely out of the norm today! I challenge all my readers to do something out of their comfort zone today and comment about it in the comment section (or send me a message anonymously)! I know we should lead by example, so: today, I talked to someone I have been wanting to talk to, but was afraid all my biggest fears of abandonment and being hated would be confirmed. This person neither told me they hated me, rejected me, nor abandoned me, and we had a good chat :)