“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.
God promises, near the end of this chapter, to restore his people if they will just cry out to him. In the meantime, they are trying to protect themselves from the threat of Babylon by running to Egypt for help. They do not realize that Babylon is God’s hand of discipline. It cannot be escaped. Egypt is not God’s source of protection. It cannot help.
What do we look to for our security and safety? Our careers? They will fail us. Our credit rating? That becomes meaningless in a crisis. Our friends? God says his people will be like a lone flagpole on top of a mountain. Friends cannot replace God. When God’s judgment falls, people flee in fear from the smallest threat. “A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain” (Isaiah 30:17) There is no security apart from a gracious God.
If God is so gracious, why does he judge? It is for the same reason that truly caring parents discipline their children. Because they love them. God’s people are chasing after false gods. Is God a petty, envious god? That is hardly the point. The gods of the world that they are chasing after are gods of immorality, violence, and even child sacrifice. This is not how God created his people. His discipline is not vengeful punishment. It is loving discipline. There is a difference. It is for their own good.
So, we come back to the question of what we are trusting for our security. If we receive discipline and turn to God, we will find that we are secure in him. If we resent the discipline and try to resist it, we will find that the very thing we turn to for safety becomes the thing that harms us. A credit card might get you through a rocky financial moment, but it leaves you enslaved to the credit card company until you have paid it all back with interest. The very thing we look to for help becomes our enemy.
God will not share his glory. He knows that in a broken world, everything we look to for security will fail us. He wants us to know the security of trusting him even in the darkest moments of life. He is there. When we look to quick fixes, people, or things as the primary source of our security we are like the one described in Amos 5:19, “A man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him.” There is no safety apart from God. There is no threat too dangerous when we are trusting God. Where is your security today?