Then Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, “Take great stones in your hand and hide them in mortar in the brick work which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah. Tell them, Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne on these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his royal pavilion over them. He will come, and will strike the land of Egypt; such as are for death will be put to death, and such as are for captivity to captivity, and such as are for the sword to the sword. I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt. He will burn them, and carry them away captive. He will array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd puts on his garment; and he will go out from there in peace. He will also break the pillars of Beth Shemesh that is in the land of Egypt; and he will burn the houses of the gods of Egypt with fire.’ ”
Instead of running to God, the remnant of Judah ran to Egypt. Here we read that Jeremiah was told by God to predict the attack and captivity of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. Once again, God calls Nebuchadnezzar: “my servant.” Let’s consider what has happened here and see if it might apply to us today.
Egypt had been a very strong and large kingdom for a long time. They were definitely larger and stronger than Judah at that time. They had survived many attempts by others to take them over. Wasn’t it logical for a small group of weak people from Judah to seek refuge from a well-situated and strong nation? From an economic perspective, Egypt had more resources too. Wouldn’t it make sense to build yourself up in a place where there were more resources? It would actually go against logic and science to not move to Egypt for a while. I say this because I want to illustrate the limits of science. Just because things have always been a certain way, doesn’t mean that they will continue to be that way in the future. The only basis on which science is allowed to continue to be a guide, is when God indicates that things will continue in the future as they have in the past. In this case, God clearly indicated that the future would be very unlike the past. The times were changing. Babylon was going to take everything over, including Egypt, and the remnant of Judah would have been better off living in the place that they had been assigned by Babylon.
I believe that the Bible indicates that, in this world, our desire to go against God’s guidance is fueled by our desire for money. We begin to trust in our ability to get and keep money instead of believing in the clear words of God. Here’s what we are told in the New Testament:
1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Was the remnant of Judah being greedy? They were destitute and in great need. Their cities had been wiped out. They were refugees weren’t they? Perhaps from a worldly perspective they were merely in need, but God had clearly told them what they were supposed to do. I believe that in their own greed for gain, even as poor refugees, they disobeyed God and put themselves into horrible danger. They would now have to see the same destruction that destroyed their own country happen again in Egypt. They “pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The road to greed doesn’t depend on how rich you are. It only depends on whether you choose money instead of God and that appears to be what the people did.