The Folly of Egypt

“‘Ah, stubborn children,’ declares the Lord,
‘who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;
who set out to go down to Egypt,
    without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
    and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
    and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation…
Everyone comes to shame
    through a people that cannot profit them,
that brings neither help nor profit,
    but shame and disgrace…

“Egypt’s help is worthless and empty…
They are a rebellious people,
    lying children,
children unwilling to hear
    the instruction of the Lord;
who say… to the prophets, ‘Do not prophesy to us what is right;
speak to us smooth things,
    prophesy illusions,
leave the way, turn aside from the path,
    let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.’
‘Because you despise this word
    and trust in perverseness
    and rely on them,
 therefore this iniquity shall be to you
    like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse,
    whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant…’

“Thus said the Lord God, the Holy One,
‘In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’
But you were unwilling, and you said,
‘No! We will flee upon horses’;
therefore you shall flee away;
and, ‘We will ride upon swift steeds’;
therefore your pursuers shall be swift.” Isaiah 30:1-3,5,7,9-13,15-16

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
    and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
    and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
    or consult the Lord!” Isaiah 31:1

Plans without the Lord are short-sighted, alliances without His Spirit are weak, dangerous, and detrimental. Paths and destinies led by self stray beyond His borders of blessing and protection, refuge in earthly fortresses is doomed to fail. Trust in man-made, self-determined methods comes to naught, and shelter out of God’s presence lacks His favor. All are available, and possible, and in the flesh, enticing. In the heat and thick we are tempted to the opportunistic ‘Egypt,’ but only God is our true safe place and sure provision.

Even alerted, with pride and pomp, we willfully forge our own ways. We yield to the lure of false promises, and our rebel hearts swell to be their own gods. Yet always, God keeps His word, and doles out the consequences He warns will come. He calls us from the deceivers’ course, from all who pervert biblical truth by dangling sensual trinkets, from fruitless striving, and graciously offers the rest and strength of salvation. Will we return, and give in and over to His loving welcome? (Jude 4-5)

Where have we succumbed to folly, to relying on worthless and empty material and methods? What worldly drone, even spiritual-sounding syrup, has stopped our ears to God’s truth? What ingrained habits or unhealthy company lead us astray from God’s right path?

Lord, keep me alert to ungodly passions and people who would deter me from You. Keep me in Your love and truth, and from falling, that I might exalt Your glory, majesty, dominion, and authority forever. (Jude 18-25)

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