Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Flights of Fear

There was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Uriah the son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words like those of Jeremiah.  And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. – Jeremiah 26:20-21

I was just randomly reading earlier and came across this passage where the people of Jerusalem began to get rather hostile about all of Jeremiah’s negativity.  There was an outcry against the prophets, and Jeremiah was not the only one who was threatened.  I think there is a lesson for us here:  Don’t go back to Egypt. 

Uriah’s escape attempt ends unhappily (vv 22-23):  Then King Jehoiakim sent to Egypt certain men, Elnathan the son of Achbor and others with him, and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and dumped his dead body into the burial place of the common people.  In biblical types, Egypt generally stands in for the world system.  Thus the threatened prophet’s flight into that nation could be interpreted as a warning to those who would resort to carnal means to defend themselves. 

As we read through the narrative of the Apostle Paul’s adventures in the Book of Acts, we see that he occasionally used his Roman citizenship and the laws of the empire to his advantage.  When he was arrested by Roman soldiers quelling a riot caused by his presence, the Apostle advised the centurion of his Roman citizenship to forestall being “examined by flogging” (Acts 22:23).  He was shipped out to Rome after his prolonged imprisonment by the governors of Palestine because he appealed his case to Caesar, as was his right as a citizen (Acts 25).  Yet this same Paul states that “ … the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh …” (2 Corinthians 10:4) and that “… we do not wrestle against flesh and blood …” (Ephesians 6:12).

We should always be careful about resorting to worldly and carnal means.  As Uriah found out, the world’s system is no protection against the world’s animosity.  We know that God uses doctors to heal, police officers to protect, lawyers to defend, and judges to decree justice – sometimes, but the kingdom is not ruled by such.  Again, we have the familiar words of Jesus to guide us, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness … (Matthew 6:33).  Our only true protection and security is to be in Christ, clothed in the whole armor of God and protected by the shield of faith. 

The Rabshakeh was trying to instill fear in the hearts of the men of Judah and Jerusalem, but even the devil will tell the truth when it suits his case:  Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him (Isaiah 36:6). 

Far better to say with a shepherd boy … the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's … (1 Samuel 17:47).


John Lien said...

...the Apostle advised the centurion of his Roman citizenship to forestall being “examined by flogging” (Acts 22:23).

He was just being prudent there, Paul was no dummy.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Paul was also able to write more letters by opting to be a prisoner of Rome, so in that sense he was using wordly powers for good, although he was still in apretty bad prison.

Uriah apparently had no ulterior motive other than hiding. Although not to be too harsh, I can understand his initial fears. Unfortunately, he didn't stop to ask for God's guidance before running off to Egypt.

mushroom said...

I agree, I'm not criticizing Uriah. It's just the type.