“Who is this who rises up like the Nile,
like rivers whose waters surge?
Egypt rises up like the Nile,
like rivers whose waters surge.
He says, ‘I will rise up. I will cover the earth.
I will destroy cities and its inhabitants.’
Go up, you horses!
Rage, you chariots!
Let the mighty men go out:
Cush and Put, who handle the shield;
and the Ludim, who handle and bend the bow.
For that day is of the Lord, Yahweh of Armies,
a day of vengeance,
that he may avenge himself of his adversaries.
The sword will devour and be satiated,
and will drink its fill of their blood;
for the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, has a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.
Go up into Gilead, and take balm, virgin daughter of Egypt.
You use many medicines in vain.
There is no healing for you.
The nations have heard of your shame,
and the earth is full of your cry;
for the mighty man has stumbled against the mighty,
they both fall together.”
While working as a software engineer, I spent a lot of time learning about wasted effort. In software, we don’t waste materials when we make mistakes. What we do waste is our own time and effort as well as the time and effort of our investors and our customers. We do that when we make bad decisions. It’s possible to charge down the road of success, only to find that you are harming yourself and others because you are fighting against reality.
Jeremiah records for us that Egypt was going to make an attempt to take over the world. God told them to go right ahead and try. Instead of taking over the world, they were going to fall. It even tells the medical workers to go ahead and try to use their medicine to heal people. Even that was going to fail. Egypt was about to waste their efforts. It even tells us here that “the earth is full of your cry.” It’s one thing to make a private mistake, but Egypt’s mistakes were going to be high-profile.
I see a lesson for us in this. No matter how big and powerful we are, it is possible for us to take on something that will destroy us. God is the one who defines reality and because of this, our success is in His hands, not in our own. Our big idea shouldn’t be to take over the world, but to simply do what God wants us to do today. Then, when He takes over the world, we will be glad we helped. There’s no waste in that.