Carved stones & baby crocodiles
The Egypt portion of this extraordinary trip is coming to a close. Tomorrow we are off to Jordan for four days of exploration and continuing discovery of the implications that the biblical lands have upon our understanding of the text of Scripture. Aswan, in what was once ancient Nubia, was the setting for our last full day in Egypt. It could not have been a more fitting and beautiful conclusion to our time here.
An early morning departure to see the unfinished obelisk that was commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC followed by a water taxi ride to the island home of the Ptolemaic temple of Pylae were first on the agenda. The massive size of the granit obelisk seen half carved from the quarry was an impressive reminder of the extent to which the ancient Egyptians strove to maintain a type of theological dominance over their people. The Pylae Temple too, dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis, held these ancient people in its grasp for more than 1,000 years until the decline of the Roman era.
The afternoon was a celebration of Nubian culture. Water taxis shuttled our group past Elephantine Island through a series of intricate channels at a point in the Nile known as the first cataract. A Nubian village lay tucked away on the western bank just where the Sahara Desert kisses the Nile River. We explored its markets, met the people, and drank tea with crocodiles. A sunset cruise on our water taxis returned us back to our River boat where we enjoyed another extraordinary Egyptian meal and a Nubian musical show all while wearing tradition Egyptian dress.
Amidst all of the historical wonder and fascinating cultural expression that exists here, you cannot visit Egypt without being overwhelmed with a sense of the darkness that dominated the lives of the ancient Egyptians. Even today, despite the warmth and genuine hospitality that characterizes Egyptians, they remain predominately in that same condition. Over the past few days, as I have thought about this, I have also had on my mind a passage from the prophet Isaiah concerning this ancient land. I leave it with you to consider. May it encourage you to pray for its fulfillment in a soon and coming day, and may it increase your love and hope for the Egyptian people.
“In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord near its border. It will become a sign and a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. the Lord will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. The Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them. In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isa. 19:19-25).
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