Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
After God delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt with His mighty Arm He commanded them, Only he, (any given future Jewish king) must not … cause the people to return to Egypt … '(Deuteronomy 17:16). Because of this commandment, some in Jewish religious circles conclude that once someone returns to Israel, to the Land of their ancestors, it is a sin to leave it again. But was the commandment to be applied solely within a geographical understanding?
Eight centuries later, the Children of Israel had gone full circle. Subject to a coup within the royal house they fear the fury of Nebuchadnezzar. The remnant from Babylonian deportation decides to seek refuge in Egypt. They seek the advice (or approval) of Jeremiah the prophet who tells them to stay put in Israel and trust God. They reject the counsel and go anyways taking Jeremiah with them as a prisoner (Jeremiah 46). God must have foreseen this event for having warned the children of Israel before they even entered the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 17:16).
It is easy to judge and criticize the Children of Israel for this blatant disobedience. “Oh, how children love to judge their parents, especially teenagers!” Yes; we can look at them and say, “Why? Why didn’t they trust God and obey the commandment, especially when Jeremiah told them? Can’t they remember all the bounty and power God showed them in the past …etc …” Yes it is easy to react that way, but the only way to have mercy and compassion on others is to have a good hard and honest look at ourselves. A rule for Jewish judges was that if a judge could not see within himself the fault of the person he was to judge, he would be self-righteous and therefore not fit to judge him. Seeing the fault of others in ourselves provides us with the Spirit of the Judge of the earth who took on sin upon Himself so he could judge us righteously (Isaiah 11:1-4). He asks us, Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye(Matthew 7:3)?. We must remember that, these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11).
A good honest look at ourselves easily reveals the spirit of fear and compromise which stifles our effectiveness for Him as well as eats at our trust in obeying His word of personal revelation to us. It is at the end of our lives that we realize how we have missed the boat. We see then how we have allowed fear and personal interest to provoke us to compromise and choose a life of seeming safety instead of launching out like Abraham into the bright future that could not be altered no matter what.
May we learn from the Children who tried to find safety returning to their old lives. May we learn that we are safer in a desert surrounded by enemies if God is with us that in that within a shaded walled garden with supplies yet without God. We need this lesson to help us face the days to come. We need to live it today so we can teach it to our children for their days to come … and their children’s!