Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellors of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say you to Pharaoh…
The strong, energetic language of the prophet respecting the princes and counselors of Egypt express for us the vast injury which is wrought by untrustworthy teachers in every place and time, and the duty of the people to be on their guard against such seducers (ver. 13).
I. THE LEADERS THAT MISLEAD. (Vers. 10-13.) These are:
1. In the nation, leading their fellow-countrymen into a false and spurious patriotism; into vain-gloriousness; into luxury and extravagance; into the ruinous error that the fascinations of military glory are preferable to the advantages of peaceful industry, etc.
2. In the Church, leading their fellow-members into theological error; into doctrine which is not a faith but only a philosophy, or which is not a faith so much as a superstition; into indulgence in emotion without the cultivation of Christian morality; or into habits of virtue that do not rest on the basis of personal attachment to God, etc.
3. In the family, leading their children into laxity of belief; into the conviction that worldly success is of greater account than the favor of God and the possession of spiritual integrity; into the practice of dubious habits which tend to immorality or irreligion, etc.
II. THEIR LAMENTABLE RELIGIOUS IGNORANCE. (Ver. 12.) The "wise men" of Egypt could not tell "what the Lord of hosts had purposed; "they did not know his mind. What availed all their other knowledge, all their political sagacity, all their pretentious skill, it they were utterly ignorant of what was in the mind of God? Our leaders of to-day, in whatever sphere they may preside, are useless and worse than useless if they cannot propose those measures, if they cannot commend those doctrines, if they cannot foster those habits and instill those principles, which are according to the mind of God, which contain the will of Jesus Christ. To advise the policy, to repeat the phrases, to build up the character which they themselves received of their fathers, may be wholly inadequate, utterly inapplicable, entirely wrong; what is wanted in our leaders is the power to perceive the mind of God, to especially understand what is "his will concerning us in Christ Jesus," to guide and teach and train so that their disciples shall live in the light of his truth and the enjoyment of his friendship.
III. THE MISCHIEF WHICH THEY WORK. (Vers. 13, 14.) These men seduced Egypt from the true path, and they led her to err and stagger in false paths. The immensity of the evil which is wrought by False leaders, whether in the nation, the Church, or the home, is seen by regarding it on the negative and on the positive side.
1. They seduce from the saving truth. (1 John 2:26.) They lead men from the fear of the living God; from the faith and love of Jesus Christ; from the produce of the heavenlier graces, and therefore from living the nobler and worthier life; from the possession of a peace which no distractions can disturb, and of a treasure which no thief can steal, and of a hope which triumphs over death.
2. They lead into the saddest and even the grossest evils. Their disciples "err... as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit." A painful but graphic picture of those who are led astray into evil paths, into beliefs which are not only false but shocking, into companionships and alliances which are not only unsatisfactory but demoralizing, into habits which are not only wrong but shameful. It is the duty of the community, in view of the fact that false and foolish leaders have always abounded, and that their influence is disastrous,
(1) to be sedulously on guard lest these should be appointed;
(2) to depose those that are found unworthy of their charge,
(3) to realize that every individual man is responsible to God for the faith he holds and the life he lives (Luke 12:57; Galatians 6:4, 5), - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Surely the princes of Zoan are fools, the counsel of the wise counsellers of Pharaoh is become brutish: how say ye unto Pharaoh, I am the son of the wise, the son of ancient kings?