Jeremiah 42:13-16 (AMP) But if you are going to say, “We will not stay in this land,” and [in so doing] do not listen to the voice of the Lord your God, saying, “No, but we will go to the land of Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the sound of the [warrior’s] trumpet or hunger for bread, and we will stay there,” then in that case listen to the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “If you are really determined to go to Egypt and to reside there [temporarily], then the sword, of which you are afraid, will overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine of which you are afraid will follow closely after you in Egypt, and you will die there.
How frustrating must it have been to be Jeremiah during this time. He was the man God decided to speak His Word through. It was not an easy Word either. He was beaten for it, put in stocks for it, put in a pit for it and even spent time in the courts prison for it. Yet, he did not change what God proclaimed.
Here the people are asking Jeremiah what God says about their decision to go to Egypt. Exodus happened in the 13th century BC, Babylonian captivity in 539 BC, yet the people were still looking back to Egypt. How many generations had passed? Whenever, there was a threat, Egypt was their answer. God delivered them from there before, He would do it again, right?
This is what He told them: verses 9-12, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: ‘If you will indeed remain in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I will relent and be satisfied concerning the disaster that I have inflicted on you [as discipline, and I will replace judgment with compassion]. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear [as if he were deity]; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for [he is a mere man, but I am the living, omniscient God and] I am with you [always] to protect you and to deliver you from his hand. And I will show you compassion, so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your own land.
The Babylonian captivity was going to last 70 years. There were people who would be led captive and would return in their life time. This could not be said of those who chose to return to Egypt. One such person that is possibly recorded, but I cannot find any definite disproof or proof of, was Mordecai. Mordecai is the uncle of Esther, who raised her as his own. We read in Esther that he and his family were led away to Babylon as part of the captivity (Esther 1:6). He did not live a terrible life. It even shows that he held office at the king’s gate (Esther 2:21). He was able to carry out his duties in his customs. He honored the king. There was some upset that happened, but God worked it out in their favor. Upsets are going to happen.
What caused me to take notice was Mordecai was mentioned again in Nehemiah (7:7). Could this be the same Mordecai? He would be very old, but that would not be unheard of. Ezra 3:12, “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first house (temple), wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy.” This could very well be the same Mordecai. Proof that God did keep His promise.
My take away…stop looking to what worked in the past. God is not a formula to plug in to get the outcome you desire. Do not look back to the old land that He delivered you out of? We are a people that craves familiarity and want to keep our options open. We survived there and we can survive there again. What if He wants better for you than to just survive? What if He wants you to thrive? What I love about Mordecai’s story is that when he was led into captivity, sorrow and self-pity were not part of his story. He was told by God that he would be able to trust the king, and He would take care of him and his people. Just because harm was intended by someone else, did not mean that it was able to succeed. Mordecai did not run. He did not go back to the familiar. He trusted God at His Word.
Luke 9:62 (AMP) But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”
It is never going to be as good as it was back there. He wants better for you! Stop trying to get back there, move forward. God is not something you plug into the equation for the favorable outcome. He should be the source. My question to you is, “Are you looking for options or choosing obedience?” The Israelites wanted options. Mordecai chose obedience.