Bonus Text, November 2016.
One of the best blessings in life is to have a great friend, someone who shares in our happiness and makes life enjoyable. A friend is someone who encourages us and cares for us. And best of all, a friend is dependable. When things go wrong, a friend supports us and helps us. But have you ever had someone you thought was a friend abandon you when you needed them most? That’s such a terrible experience. To be betrayed or ignored by a friend really hurts us.
That’s the way that the ancient Israelites felt about Egypt. Egypt had promised to be a good friend, to help the Israelites and support them. And that was great, since the Israelites were a tiny group of people surrounded by huge empires. So it felt nice to have a big friend on their side, a big nation like Egypt. The only problem is that Egypt turned out to be a very bad friend indeed.
When the people of Jerusalem thought about rebelling against Babylon, the Egyptians promised to back them up, and even encouraged the rebellion. But when it all went wrong and the Israelites found themselves in deep trouble, Egypt abandoned them.
It hurts so much to be let down by friends. That’s why in Ezekiel 29 and 30 we read the beginning of a long section of 7 prophecies against Egypt. In 29:6–7, we see the bitter and painful accusation: When Israel needed support, Egypt was like a reed staff, useless and worthless. Israel needed a strong hand to hold onto, they needed someone sturdy that they could lean on. But Egypt went back on its promises and let Israel fall down.
We know what it’s like to be let down by friends; we know how much that hurts. We wish that we could have a good friend who is dependable and ready to stand together with us. That’s a great wish to have! But it’s also a good reminder to us that we should try to be that kind of person for our friends. Are we dependable? Are we ready to help? I hope so. Because when we support our friends in that way, not only do we become a blessing for them, we also come to represent the love and support of God, who is our greatest friend of all.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis