I will give Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies and into the hand of those who seek his life, as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon . . . Jeremiah 44:30
I have a weird diet plan that I always think is going to work, but never does. Whenever we leave home for any length of time, I plan on using the change of scenery to change my behavior. Realizing that my late-night eating is a bad habit, I think that perhaps in a new environment, I will naturally stop and then, when I come home, the habit will be broken. The fact that it has never worked does not stop me from trying.
The problem of course, is that my scenery is not the issue. I am the problem and when I go somewhere else, I am still there. I may find success for a day or two, but eventually, my previous behavior returns and soon I am doing the same old things, just in a new location.
The addict often does this. He makes cosmetic changes, hoping that a geographical move will be the new beginning he needs. He moves, only to find that all of his problems moved with him. Cosmetic changes, like moving, getting a haircut, or buying new clothes, do nothing to change the underlying problem.
Today’s passage illustrates the futility of superficial change. Having been conquered once by the Babylonians, God’s people fled to Egypt, hoping for safety there, even though God commanded that they stay in Judah. They ran to Egypt, relying on their foreign gods for protection from the Babylonians.
Their problem was not their geographical location. Their problem was their continued defiance of God. This did not change in Egypt and when they continued in their disobedience, God told them that he would simply allow the Babylonians to conquer Egypt as well.
If we desire authentic transformation, and if we want to know the life and joy of following God, then we must commit to changing the things that need to be changed. Daily, we must go to God, asking him what we must do, and then we must do it. Anything else is just cosmetic change.