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Jeremiah 44:11-14 - Homilies By D. Young

The doom on those making sure of safety in Egypt.

I. A FIXED RESOLUTION . The obstinate self-will of man brings into relief the inflexibility of the righteous judgments of God. The remnant of Judah set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there. What, then, is to be expected but that Jehovah should set his face against them? The more self-will becomes a power in the life, the more nearly does it move in direct opposition to him who is the true Sovereign and Disposer of every human life. We can guess something of the thoughts of these Egypt seekers. They say to themselves, "Henceforth we shall consult for our own safety." They speak as if the peculiar perils hitherto besetting them were the perils of one place rather than another. Perhaps even they reckoned that outside the land of Israel they were beyond Jehovah's reach. Here there is a lesson for us in our selfish aims and pursuits. All selfishness is bad, but even in selfishness a lesser badness is a degree of goodness, and it is well for a man if he gets frequently shaken in his selfishness; for then, his face not being steadily against God, he will find God looking on him encouragingly, to draw him out of his selfishness altogether.

II. A COMPLETE DESTRUCTION . Complete, that is, in the sense of general and final. There was but a remnant to begin with, and of that a very small remnant might escape. The very smallness of the remnant, however, would but magnify the completeness of the destruction, no place is secure against the visitations of God's righteous wrath. Indeed, the greater the appearance of natural security, the more manifest will be the breaking in on this security of the Divine justice. Men must be taught, even by terrible lessons, that, as there is the best kind of safety under the shadow of God's wings, so there is the worst kind of danger the further we go from God. To multiply our own defences is really to multiply our own perils.

III. A NULLIFIED PURPOSE . This remnant, not finding in Egypt the expected safety, thinks there is nothing easier than to go back again to the land of Judah. Whereas they find too late that, while departure from their own proper place is easy enough, return to it may be impossible. Opening the door to get out was one thing; opening it to get in again quite another. Seventy years was to pass before they of the Captivity should return from Babylon—indeed, it would really be another generation altogether; and should those who sought Egypt in contumacy and rebellion expect to fare better? We must be wise in time. To be wise too late gives suffering its keenest edge. So Judas brought back in vain the thirty pieces of silver, and Esau found no place of repentance though he sought it carefully with tears. This is why God is so earnest in promising wisdom and light to those who seek for them, that we may seek for them at the right time, at the beginning of the great opportunity of life, and at the beginning of every smaller opportunity.—Y.

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